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Companions Furever

by Bryan 20. February 2012 11:30

Many generations of WSU DVM graduates will remember PJ from anatomy and his talent with creating exceptional anatomic specimens, many of which were sold to other universities or veterinary practices. Several years ago, PJ began to get requests from individuals to preserve their companion animal when it died.  PJ being PJ, he set out to satisfy himself that he could do so with the quality that made him (and WSU) proud.  Having satisfied himself he could do so, he subsequently fulfilled these requests from a handful of individuals, preserving for them their recently deceased pets, ranging from an iguana to small dogs.

I never thought much about it since then -- to me it is just another manifestation of the bond between people and animals and I don't judge whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.  I was prompted to recall PJ's efforts when we were c,ontacted recently by an independent filmmaker who is doing a full-length documentary called Furever.  Although it is mammal-centric, the title is a clever play on "forever", and I'll overlook the detail that iguanas do not have fur (and "Scalever" just doesn't do it).

This filmmaker, Amy Finkel, became interested in the subject when she read a story of a taxidermy shop that had begun to do the same thing PJ was doing, freeze-drying pets so they could stay with their human after their death.  More background on Ms. Finkel and her film can be found here and here.  The story of her filming and interaction with various faculty and students in our college can be found here.

Those of you who have interacted with PJ know how much he cares about animals and probably wouldn't be surprised that in spite of his sort of crusty ex-Marine demeanor he did not give a second thought to, without judgment, fulfilling the requests he received from those who wanted to honor their human-animal bond in this way.

What do you think? 

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Why We Need Zoos

by Bryan 6. February 2012 07:20

Although on some days I feel as though I'm running a zoo, this post isn't about metaphorical zoos with legions of cats to herd.

Rather, it is about the real thing. 

One of the many fortunate circumstances that go with being dean is that I get to serve with a wonderful group of people on the Board of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, which by the way has a new logo that I think is very many images can you conjur up from this graphic? 

From them I have learned to appreciate the critical place of zoos as oases in urban environments where people can have some of the wonder of rounding a bend in the path and sighting a rarely seen animal, or hearing -- off in the distance -- a sound that begs for further exploration.  Aside from the "cool" factor of seeing animals from other continents that marked my experience with zoos as a kid, I never really considered how critical zoos are for connecting people with animals and their conservation as we increasingly urbanize our populations around the world.

I am fortunate to have spent the bulk of my life in rural or near-rural settings with easy access to vast expanses of undeveloped, or at least under-developed, nature, as it were.  Thus, rounding the bend to espy a bear or moose or elk or deer or coyote or fox, or whatever, has been a rather routine experience for me.  Similarly, being in a place where the quiet stands out for being so silent, only to be broken now and again with cries of birds, insects, or other animals is not uncommon for me.  But now with my experience on the board, when I am wandering the grounds of the zoo I am struck about how essential that place must be for the many who aren't able to experience the world in the way I am when I am out fishing...or just out.

I am prompted to say these things by this essay from the NY Times, which appeared over the weekend.  Those who run the real zoos have made huge strides in how animal behavior and welfare are enhanced by modern exhibits, husbandry, and veterinary care.  Even so, there are those who question whether zoos should exist at all.  However, as I experience the zoo with newfound appreciation, and when I consider arguments such as those advanced by this essay, I cannot imagine a world where these magnificent artifices did not exist to connect urban and suburban dwellers to animals and their conservation.

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A Clear Focus on the Human-Animal Bond

by Bryan 3. February 2012 12:05

From time to time I have commented on the artistic creativity that abounds among the people of our college, and this post returns to that theme.  As before, though, even though the theme is the same, the content is very different.

Holly Irish is a 4th year vet student from Sequim.  She is the latest to have her work exhibited in the Animal Health Library series as part of our Art in the Library.  Here is an example if this collection, in which Holly explores the human-animal bond through stills.

I really like her blending of color and black and white to draw out the connections between people and animals.  When I look at her photographs it is very easy for me to feel the many different depictions she draws from her subjects' bond and fascination with animals.

Many more of these photographs can be seen, of course, in the library if you live here or get the chance to visit Pullman in the next few months.  Until then, you can see a few more here, where you can also learn more about Holly.

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Weather Whiplash

by Bryan 2. February 2012 15:16

The view from my "office" two weeks ago (Naples, FL): 

The view from my office a week ago:

After all that snow, most of which has already gone, it now seems like Winter is on its way out on the Palouse.  I'm ready for Spring.

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WSU Art in the Library

by WSU CVM 31. January 2012 08:58
Art in the Library presents: photographs by Holly Irish - Class 2012

The College of Veterinary Medicine welcomes Holly Irish, who will display her work in the Animal Health Library, located on the first floor of Wegner Hall (Room 170) during Spring semester 2012. Holly’s art depicts the bond between people and animals, and all of the different ways it can be expressed. She set out to capture these relationships in her camera lens.

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WSU CE Webinar: Feb 22, 2012 Veterinary Dentistry: Steps to successful extraction

by WSU CVM 30. January 2012 13:53

Dr Tammy White presents a one hour webinar on Veterinary Dentistry: Steps to successful extraction at 6 pm Pacific Time on Feb 22, 2012.


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WSU CVM Teaching Academy Faculty Development Workshop

by WSU CVM 30. January 2012 07:10

Diane O’Dowd will give a keynote address, "Creating intellectually stimulating environments in large classes,” at noon Wednesday, Feb. 1, in CUE 203, followed by free workshops Thursday-Friday, Feb. 2-3.

For more information and to register (not required but requested for planning) go to


Celebrate the life of Dr. John Gorham

by WSU CVM 18. January 2012 13:26

Please join us on Friday, January 20, 2012, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m  in the Lewis Alumni Centre to celebrate the life of Dr. John Gorham, who passed away on October 14, 2011.



by Bryan 12. January 2012 18:37

Happy New Year everyone.  It is not really the result of a New Year's resolution, but I'm back to blogging.  Doing so is actually quite fun, but with trying to keep up with both Vice Provost and Dean duties I just fell out of the habit.  I'm back to just being Dean now, having given up the Vice Provost duties in July.  Periodically contributing to this blog is back on a front burner. 

This post is one I've been planning for a long time, and so it is a perfect one to mark my restart.  I have the pleasure of highlighting again one of the many multi-talented people in this college.  This time it is Debby Alperin a research assistant in Vet Micro Path who also happens to be an outstanding photographer.  Some of Debby's photographs were assembled for the latest show in our Art in the Library Series over the fall and winter.  You can find more of her photos here, but she has allowed me to share one of my favorites with you in this post.

I have commented here before about how I love the clouds on the Palouse.  Those of you who know this place know how the rolling hills change their textures and colors with the comings and goings of the seasons.  And then the clouds...  It is not just the clouds themselves, although they are often beautiful in their own right.  But the interplay of their beauty with the textures and colors of terrain.  I've wondered why the clouds always seem to be right on top of us much of the time, and I've speculated that it is because we live on a high plateau above the canyons.  Whatever the explanation, the dynamic changes in weather, season, and cropping creates a myriad of effects of low clouds and terrain that are at times astounding.  In the end, thoughts of explanation miss the point, ...just enjoy...

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Snowy Owl undergoing treatment at WSU Vet Hospital

by Admin 10. January 2012 13:57

A snowy owl that flew thousands of miles from its home only to collide with a car west of Spokane, Wash., is being treated at Washington State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital.


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