Posts By Leah Bertagnolli

tetanus bacteria

Diseases We Shouldn’t See

Considering the horse’s signs could have been an example in a textbook for baby veterinarians, it took longer than I’m proud of to make the diagnosis. The filly stood stock stiff, drooling, wild-eyed, trembling, and sweating. She couldn’t eat, her heart rate was sky-high, and her distress was evident. It wasn’t until I went to… read more


Real Vets Use Duct Tape: And Other ‘Tails’ of Veterinary Improv

A black cotton dress, a science fiction novel, and a roll of duct tape have a lot in common. As I turned the last pages of The Martian and set it on my hotel nightstand, I heard myself sigh. I was in a hotel and my luggage was lost. In the bathroom, I attacked the same… read more


Outfoxing the Foxtail

Folks who live in the strange lands where rain falls year round may not have met this diabolical tool of evil, but for those of us living in the lands of gold(en brown), foxtails are a summertime menace. This harmless appearing plant awn looks like the lovechild of a Victorian fan and a Robin Hood… read more


What Kind of Noses? Zoonoses!

The first time I saw the word zoonoses in a class syllabus in veterinary school, my mind immediately went to the rubber “animal noses” that my father would buy by the dozens in nature stores and zoo gift shops. Few things amuse Dad more than wandering around with a rubber rhinoceros snout fastened over his… read more


Pet Guests for the Holidays

Holidays in our family wouldn’t be the same without pets: standard poodles in reindeer antlers, a pit bull in a fisherman’s sweater and light up Christmas collar, an otherwise proper relative (identity hidden to avoid coal in my stocking this year) startled into yelling “Crotch Dog!” at the holiday feast. Ah, the memories. Then, there… read more


The Eyes Have It

It happened again this morning. As I was toweling off my face, I dislodged my contact lens. The typical mental dialogue in this scenario goes something like this: ‘Okay, no big deal, once I’m dry and can get to the mirror, I’ll take the lens out, rinse it, and put it back in. Meanwhile, I’ll… read more


Spring Training

Swaths of the United States resemble the ice planet Hoth right now, but here in California it’s spring: puffy blossoms, mutant grass, and a wispy-cloud-laced cerulean sky. Don’t hate me; we also have no water. This morning, in deference to spring, I squeezed into running tights and sports bra and reminded myself that my July… read more

Checking Society's Vitals – The Many Hats a Veterinarian Wears

If you ask most people what they think a veterinarian does, you (at least in my experience) get some variation on “takes care of sick animals.” Poke that answer with a stick a few times, and eventually some other stuff will float out of the subconscious murk– usually from the same part of the brain… read more

Chasing Zebras

“When you hear hoofbeats, look for the horse, not the zebra.” – Classic medical advice Zebras are obnoxious and hard to catch. I know this because I once watched one dash out into the field, halter dangling around its neck while my syringe was falling from its body. Vaccination was unsuccessful, needless to say. At… read more


What Do We Tell the Kids?

A fragment of conversation anchored my feet to the floor, over-filled laundry basket perched on my hip. My two oldest children were playing with their plastic horses. One horse had a bandaged foreleg. My ears caught the syllable “—ize” come from my oldest daughter, then about six. Her younger brother, about three at the time,… read more