Tag Archives: Pets

DIY Doggie Wrap (or Baby Wrap)

Click here to watch our DIY doggie wrap in action – featuring Mimi!

Mothers hailing from different cultures on every continent have been “wearing” babies upon their own bodies for centuries. Traditionally, baby-wearing is a convenient and pragmatic method to keep track of little ones, while continuing activities of daily life and maintaining the intimacy of mother and child.


Nowadays in North America, baby-carrying cloths are trendy accessories that are marketed under brands like Moby WrapBoba Wrap, and Baby K’Tan. But why limit baby-wearing slings, wraps, and carriers to human babies? We decided to make our own wrap… for our pup Mimi! Continue reading DIY Doggie Wrap (or Baby Wrap)

Acadia National Park

In continuation of our zeal to see as many National Park Service sites as possible (and building upon our cancellation stamp and map pins collections) combined with our efforts in getting-to-know our new Yankee home base, we made the short trek up the coast to spectacular Acadia National Park! With superlatives including the only national park in New England and the oldest one east of the Mississippi River, Acadia certainly did not disappoint and is now near the top of our list of all-time favorite National Park Service sites! The breathtakingly diverse Acadia National Park comprises magnificent  Continue reading Acadia National Park

Mimi’s Doggie Door

One of Mimi’s favorite pastimes is getting a breath of fresh air on our balcony. She puts her tiny head between the posts of the balcony and enjoys the spectacular view as much as we do! Recently, however, because our balcony gets quite a few gusts at this height, we have installed a wind barrier to protect our potted garden. Unfortunately, this barrier prohibits Mimi’s 20cm-high view of our 25th-story vista. Here’s our design solution: a tiny laser-cut door to give Mimi an unobstructed view!

Mimi is a happy, peppy pup and the theme we chose was equally fun and playful. For the basics of the main design Continue reading Mimi’s Doggie Door


April Tran (AKA “Picaroo”)

On April 1, 2003, the Tran family went to the local pound in Houston County, Georgia. Before Kathy’s mom even parked and turned off the engine, her brother, Tom-Vinh, spotted a white dog with brown spots. She was cowered in the corner of the outdoor kennel shaking and afraid while the other large dogs with her barked at her. Tom said immediately that that was the dog for us. As we inquired about the dog in the office, a lady exclaimed, “That’s my dog!” She had just brought her pet to the pound and had not even had a chance to sign the paperwork to relinquish her dog. When she found out we were interested, she retrieved her dog from the kennel. We followed this lady home and she gave us all of the dog food and supplies she had. We saw that, unfortunately, she really could not care for her dog. Her dog lived in a small closet in the kitchen – she slept, ate, and used the bathroom in the same little area. It was heartbreaking.

We took our new family member home and Kathy’s mom named her April as she came to us on April Fool’s Day. She was already an adult when she became a member of the Tran clan. The veterinarian estimated that she was born in 2011-2012.

When April first came home, the hair on her ears fell in clumps with light touch, probably from stress or the bleaching shampoo her previous owner used. She also had intermittent seizures and was not housebroken. Kathy’s mom was patient and persistent, however, in loving and training April and she became a healthy and happy dog! She is incredibly smart, mastering a number of tricks, including sit, down, shake, pray, and jumping through a hoop!

April has a total of five perfect spots – one over each ear (extending over her left eye), two on her back, and one over her tail. Of course we don’t know for certain as she is adopted, but we believe that April is a Jack Russell terrier. She certainly has the energy and intelligence typical to the breed. She also looks like Wishbone the dog, the “little dog with a big imagination” who is the star of the 1990s television show. Wishbone daydreams about literary classics, imaging that he is the main character – maybe April does, too! Here’s a comparison for you to judge by yourself…

april 1x

For over a decade until Kathy’s mom passed, April was her faithful companion. Wherever Kathy’s mom went, April followed (especially if that somewhere was the kitchen!). Even when Tom and Kathy moved away for college and work, April was always there. She kept Kathy’s mom company every day and night, at home and on long road trips.

April currently lives with Tom in central Georgia! Check back soon for an album of very cute pictures of her!

“The Bittersweetness of Medical School Match Day”

By Kathy May Tran

Click here to view this article published on MOGUL, an online publishing platform for women.

Click here to view this article published on KevinMD.com, a health blog for physicians about all things medical.

Friday was Match Day.

At 12 noon EST, medical students all over the United States simultaneously opened envelopes which revealed the destination of their residency training. The tradition is an exhilarating and emotional event for everyone involved. For medical students, it is a milestone that symbolizes a dramatic life change and a new adventure. It marks the culmination of years of hard work, the end of one thing and the beginning of another. For me, Match Day was an opportunity to reflect upon the difficulty of my medical school years and how those struggles changed my professional and personal life for the better. Continue reading “The Bittersweetness of Medical School Match Day”

Lab Mice

lifemousies3We understand that animal research is necessary to the advancement of scientific and medical knowledge. We support it and we have participated in it; however, we cannot help but feel sorry for the innocent creatures who unknowingly give their bodies and lives to educating and helping others. After working in Vaccarino Lab at the Yale Child Study Center for three years of college and the summer afterwards, Kathy longed to save a couple of the many mice who are born, raised, altered, and potentially sacrificed for research. When she left Yale, her labmate kindly offered two young mice to share her home in New York City.

The mice are unnamed and are only referred to as Mr. Mousie and Mr. Mousie, even though they are both female. One of the most pleasurable aspects of raising mice is simply observing them. Their play and their interactions are hugely entertaining. At the beginning, the only way to tell them apart was by a clipped ear on one mouse. This mouse is now clearly the dominant mouse – she takes the food from the other’s hands and is much larger.

lifemousies2Our mice eat fortified pellet food with occasional supplemental treats like fresh vegetables, unsalted sunflower seeds, and oatmeal (they love oatmeal!). We clean out their bedding of shaved wood about once a week. When their cage is cleaned, we place them in a warm washcloth and rub gently to clean them (though this is really not necessary as they groom themselves). Afterwards, they run around our apartment in a hamster ball.

We also routinely change the objects and toys in the cage. After all, Kathy’s project was about the beneficial effects of environmental enrichment. These mice get lots of exercise doing “monkey bars” on the cage and on their running wheel. Their toys include a hanging bell (intended for birds), tree branches, plastic tunnels, egg cartons, and toilet paper rolls. Kathy’s coworkers at Pediatric Ophthalmic Consultants have been wonderful at saving potential supplies! The compressed cardboard that comes in toner boxes is especially fun for our mice. Of course, all recycled toys are ink-free.

lifemousies1Surprisingly, our mice are very clean. They often groom each other and they usually even have a “pee corner” (too much information?). They do not smell though their not smelling obviously hinges upon the frequency that we clean the cage. They are not loud, as long as we oil their running wheel. They are great pets. Mr. Mousie and Mr. Mousie are now loved parts of our family, and we are thrilled to have their company. Mice are wonderful pets and we hope you consider raising a couple of your own. The pleasure we get from caring for and watching these two mice grow reminds us of the many creatures who have contributed to the discovery of medical knowledge. Even though we support the use of animals for research, we also have a great respect for all little lives that are involved.

In memoriam: Our beloved mice both passed away peacefully in their very old age. They are safely buried at the East River Espanade in Manhattan, New York City and rest eternally in peace. In the future, we hope to raise more rescued lab mice as a thank-you to the many who have donated their lives to science.

Japanese Shore Crabs

lifecrabbies1From 2006 to 2007, Kathy coordinated the Teen Docents Program for local high-school students at the nonprofit organization Artspace. One of the docent activities was a trip to Long Wharf in New Haven, Connecticut to collect objects for an aquarium art display they created. Of those objects were crabbies.

These spoken-of crabbies are Japanese shore crabs (also known as Asian shore crabs). They are an invasive species to the United States and can now be found all along the East coast, especially in the Northeast. They are a very competitive threat to native crab species because of their hardiness. Their kind did make it all the way to the U. S. from Asia, after all! Japanese shore crabs live in rocky zones – and Long Wharf is the ideal habitat.

lifecrabbies2After having such fun with the teens, Kathy begged Silas to go back to Long Wharf so that they could catch a few of these crabbies as pets. He was reluctant at first: What would these crabs eat? Where would they live? How do we take care of them? Can they survive indoors? Do they smell? After completing thorough research (or as thorough as we could manage, since there aren’t many web pages about raising Japanese shore crabs as pets), we decided that crabbies may be a good idea. And so we embarked on the Crabbie Expedition of 2007. We weathered the coldest, windiest day possible to turn over rock after rock in search of the scurrying creatures. At the end of the day, we took them back to Silas’ place in a tupperware container. Oddly enough, we had a seafood dinner on our way home but no worries – we both refrained from crab.

We learned about ideal habitats for crabbies and modified the information we found to suit our particular species of invasive crab. Fortunately, these things can apparently survive anything so we’re sure that all of our mistakes in their care were kindly overlooked. The habitat we created for the crabbies included a round, old-fashioned goldfish bowl and a couple of tall jars. The bottoms were lined with fish tank gravel and rocks from the wharf. We also purchased Instant Ocean salt water mix, a couple of chemicals, and fish food to start us off.

lifecrabbies3Our very first crabbies were tiny! In fact, one was no larger than the word “crab” in 12pt. Times New Roman font. But they were our first ones and we were very excited to have them. After we were more comfortable in our ability as adoptive parents to the crabbies, we set the smaller ones free to thrive and grow in the rocky waters, and we brought home larger crabs to care for. The bodies of these were slightly smaller than a quarter, as you can see from the image.

No, crabbies aren’t cuddly. And they don’t exactly come bounding across the grass at the sound of your voice. But trust us – they really are great fun! We enjoyed watching the crabbies play with each other, hide between the cracks of the rocks, and eat with their mini claws. When they molted, we collected their beautiful shells, a perfect but lifeless replication of our little pets. We learned to separate the suddenly soft post-molting crabs, since we learned from a cannibalistic tragedy with the first crab that molted.

If you don’t have the room, the time, or the permission for raising a dog or cat, perhaps you should try shore crabs!