A Samoyed is a large dog with long white fur- the kind of fur that can hide a secret. It was midnight when the family noticed that their slightly pudgy Samoyed was acting strangely. Strangely indeed. She had started labor! It was midnight and there was a large dog that did NOT want to be moved. What could the family do? They called Dr. Carol Miller, a vet who makes house calls.
Carol spent the rest of the night with the family and delivered five brand new puppies. Thankfully, this was a story with a happy ending.
Carol is a Lehigh Valley native, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Stamatakos. She graduated from Colorado State University in 1986 with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and joined a practice in New Mexico. This fulfilled a lifelong dream. Her father had encouraged her early interest in medicine. She had always loved animals. The two interests merged and being a veterinarian became the dream of a young girl.
In New Mexico, as her family grew she sought a way to continue with her dream and still give her young children the attention she felt they needed and deserved. So was born the idea of being a veterinarian whose primary practice would be house calls.
Although licensed to treat anything with fur, feathers, fins, or scales, Carol's focus is house pets. As her experience with house calls grew, she found some very distinct advantages to her approach. First and foremost, the stress experienced by the pet was much less when the treatment was provided at the animal's home. Wouldn't it be wonderful if your doctor would come to the house when you felt bad! Many clients were busy individuals or couples who appreciated that Carol would make house calls after they got home from work. They were able to continue their routine, such as cooking dinner, and have their pet cared for at the same time. In today's busy world, time is often more precious than money. Elderly individuals appreciated avoiding the strain it put on them to get their pet to the veterinarian. And finally Carol enjoyed meeting the people and pets and getting the opportunity to know the families a bit better.
One of Carol's more unusual situations in New Mexico was a patient named Miss Piggy. Miss Piggy is an interesting name for a 13-foot python weighing in at over 100 pounds. The unfortunate Miss Piggy had a festering infection after a run in with a rabbit. Miss Piggy needed medication twice a day, but her owner had to work. Carol took Miss Piggy home for a week! Miss Piggy recovered. She enjoyed the bathtub and the backyard during her stay. Carol did comment that her cat seemed more relaxed after the week was over.
Carol also volunteered for a raptor rehab program in New Mexico treating injured eagles, hawks and owls. It was interesting to learn that bald eagles are quite nasty compared to golden eagles. Carol explained that there is a way to hold their feet to prevent damage to you from the talons, and then you just have to keep the beak away from your face. I can't hold my nine-pound dog in place long enough to give a pill. Imagine an animal with more than a five-foot wingspan!
Carol has recently started her house call practice in the Lehigh Valley. She has affiliations with two local veterinary hospitals where she can treat or refer animals requiring more extensive care. A surprising amount of situations can be handled in the home. A partial list includes physical examinations, vaccinations, medical diagnosis, blood samples, wound treatment, nail trimming, and minor surgery such as sutures. On a sadder note, hospice care in the home can be provided for terminally ill pets; and even euthanasia when it is necessary. This is sad, but how much nicer for all involved to be in a home setting rather than an office setting. Placement assistance can be provided for pets who's owner cannot cope with a serious medical condition while someone with different circumstances might be able to handle it.
Community service activities in the Lehigh Valley include speaking at local schools about a career in veterinary medicine and providing surgical and medical services for Peaceable Kingdom. Peaceable Kingdom was founded by Liz Jones for the rescue of stray animals. Liz has recently acquired a van for Peaceable Kingdom and dedicated the van to the memory of local veterinarian Terry Miller who was taken from this earth too early by the sea.
For your convenience, here are several internet links for high quality information on pets. Carol suggested that future pet owners would be wise to research pet characteristics before obtaining their animal. In the case of dogs, breed characteristics are important. These sites will help.
American Veterinary Medical Association: A wonderful amount of information including help in selecting a pet and even including a kid's corner: http://www.avma.org
Ralston Purina Company provides at interactive breed selector you can visit by clicking HERE
American Animal Hospital Association: Includes a pet care library among other features: http://www.healthypet.com
A good place to read about a medical condition involving your pet is http://www.vetinfo.com
I'd like to end this article by introducing Francine. Francine is an iguana who is not quite as long as she once was. A nasty tail infection had killed tissue, threatened her entire tail, several toes, and might have caused further problems. Ten inches of tail had to come off to prevent further loss. Carol did the surgery and a happy Francine is around to scramble on another rock and bask in the sun yet another day.
Dr. Carol Miller serves the Lehigh Valley area and can be reached at 610-962-2313 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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