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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Changing Vets

Uploaded: May 17, 2013
I originally planned to write this blog about transitioning from Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center to Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital, but events this week changed some of those plans. Instead I'll write about my past and present experiences with Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center and Urgent Care and my current experiences with Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital and the pros and cons of each.

I moved to San Ramon in 1997. I had two cats or maybe three at that time. I boarded them at the Norris Canyon Animal Hospital, which was near my new job at Two Annabel Lane. I remember seeing an illustration in the lobby of the new animal hospital planned for Bishop Drive. That of course became Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center. I don't remember if Urgent Care was part of the original name.

I continued to bring my cats to Bishop Ranch, which I shall refer to now as BR, but the vet hospital has grown very big and hospital-like. In fact they boast that they are like a real hospital with all of the services and facilities, and they are.

Being like a real hospital also has some negative aspects. BR has lots of Doctors. In fact they seem to be hiring new ones every time I go in. They list 15 Doctors on their website. That's good for getting a same-day appointment, but now it is too much like visiting a people Doctor.

First you check in at the front desk. Then you wait with your cat for about 10 minutes in a crowded waiting room, usually filled with dogs. Then a Vet Tech takes you back into one of the little examining rooms where you wait another 20 minutes. One time I waited almost an hour. I finally came out to see what was taking so long and the receptionist said, "We forgot about you." Nooooo.

I was bringing my big cat, Molly, to Bishop Ranch for weight loss. Dr. Baine said she needed a low carbohydrate diet and put her on Hills M/D. Hills makes three different kinds of diet food, M/D which is for diabetes but can be used for weight loss, R/D which has fiber added to bulk up the food without adding calories, and W/D which is their standard weight loss product.

Molly lost about two pounds in three or four months, but for almost two months she plateaued at 17 lbs. Dr. Baine just told me to "feed her less," even though she had been throwing up half her food. Dr. Baine phoned me later and suggested switching from Hills M/D to Purina D/M, which I did, but it didn't work any better. So that's when I decided to switch to Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital.

I made an appointment with Dr. Sandy Block, who is the owner of Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital. The receptionist told me Dr. Block likes to spend an hour with new patients, and she set up an appointment for Wednesday afternoon, March 13th.

Dr. Block worked at BR about 10 years ago. According to one of my friends in Safe-Cat, she left because she wasn't up to their medical standards. I asked Dr. Block about that and she said she wanted to spend more time with patients, which didn't fit with BR's appointment schedules. I understood that very well, and that's exactly why I wanted to switch from BR to a smaller, more personalized animal hospital. It also didn't hurt that Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital is only 5 minutes from my house.

Dr. Block did a very thorough exam of Molly and put her on Hill's new Metabolic cat food. She told me to feed her 1.66 cans a day. Molly liked the new food and didn't throw up as much as she did with the M/D or the D/M. Over the last two months she's lost 1.5 lbs. Dr. Block wants her down to 13.5 lbs., which is about 1.5 lbs. less than Dr. Baine's target weight.

Not only has Molly been losing weight on the Metabolic food, I won a free case after bringing her in for a weigh in. I didn't even know there was a contest, but every time I bring her into Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital for a weigh in, my name is entered into the monthly drawing for a free case of food. I was so pleased with the way Dr. Block is taking care of Molly, I planned to switch my other three cats there too.

About a year ago I rushed my cat Smudgy to BR. I wrote about this in my blog Goodbye Smudgy. I was stuck at a light on Bollinger Canyon Road for 2 minutes, and by the time I got him to BR he was gone. I thought that if I could have gotten him to a vet 5 minutes sooner, he could have been saved.

Well this past week I had a replay of rushing a sick cat to Bishop Ranch, but this time with a happier ending. My cat Cinnamon was hiding under the bed. She usually does that when she isn't feeling well, but I am not able to get her out from under the bed by myself. So I called Elise Stewart, President of Safe Cat. It was Mother's day, and I wasn't sure she would even answer. She did answer, and said BR closes at 8 pm on Sunday, and it was almost 8 pm. She said she'd come over in the morning.

I didn't think it was too serious; so I thought Monday morning would be fine. The last time Cinnamon hid under the bed she had a broken tooth. Elise Stewart pulled her out and I took her to BR for an extraction and cleaning. That wasn't an emergency, so I didn't think it was this time either.

I called Elise around 10 am on Monday morning. Cinnamon was looking weaker and I wanted to get her into the vet that afternoon. Elise said she couldn't come over and I should call Nanette, one of the other Safe Cat volunteers who lives in San Ramon. I called Nanette and she was going out and would be back about 1 pm. She said she'd call me when she got home.

I made an appointment at Bishop Ranch for 4:10 pm to be sure Nanette would be able to get Cinnamon out from under the bed with enough time for me to take her over there. I thought she should go to BR in case it was something serious and she needed surgery. Besides Cinnamon's medical records were at BR and not at Bollinger Canyon yet.

By 1:30 pm I hadn't heard from Nanette and started to worry about Cinnamon. She was whimpering under the bed but wouldn't come out. She was near the side where I could see her but couldn't grab her. She looked very weak.

So I called my neighbor Sally, who also has cats. I wasn't sure Sally would be able to get Cinnamon out from under the bed but I was getting very worried about her.

Sally came over and was able to get Cinnamon out fairly quickly. She put Cinnamon in a carrier and said I should take her right away. I thought I had time to phone Nanette and leave her a message that she didn't need to come. I also phoned BR to say I was coming in with an emergency by 2 pm.

Sally was getting very worried and reminded me of Smudgy, and I should go right away. Cinnamon was fading fast. As I was driving on Alcosta past Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital I thought about taking Cinnamon there, but I knew they would not be prepared for an emergency, so I continued another 10 minutes and got to BR at 2:10 pm.

A Vet Tech rushed Cinnamon back where Dr. Shann Ikezawa examined her. Cinnamon's blood count was very low, only 5 out of 30. She needed an immediate blood transfusion. She was having difficulty breathing and put into an oxygen cage.

Dr. Ikezawa told me Cinnamon has blood type B, which is much rarer than type A. They reached a type B donor on their Donor List. I asked if Cinnamon could hold on until the donor cat got there. Dr. Ikezawa smiled and nodded yes.

Cinnamon was at BR for three days until her blood count stabilized at 24 or 80 percent. Dr. Ikezawa took bone marrow samples to test for leukemia and cancer, but both turned up negative. I was able to take Cinnamon home Wednesday afternoon. She'll be going back this Wednesday for a follow up. I hope her blood count will be back up to normal by then.

Dr. Ikezawa is treating Cinnamon for an autoimmune condition until we know what caused her blood count to drop so low. I will continue to take Cinnamon to BR for at least a year until she recovers completely or requires continuing care for the rest of her life.

I brought Molly to Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital on Tuesday to be weighed. I told the Vet Tech about Cinnamon needing a blood transfusion. The tech said they are not set up for blood transfusions; so it was a good thing I continued on to BR. Cinnamon is doing well so far on her medications. I'll write a follow up after her checkup on May 23rd.

I still plan to switch my other cats to Bollinger Canyon Animal Hospital, but Pet lovers in San Ramon are so fortunate to have a facility like Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center and Urgent Care here when we need it.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by tiki3, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 17, 2013 at 7:58 pm

This is a very timely blog post. We are considering switching our cats from our current (not named above) vet to another. It's helpful to hear about the experiences of others.
Very sorry for your loss of Smudgy, but happy to hear Cinnamon pulled through and wishing her much future health.

Posted by , a resident of San Ramon,
on May 19, 2013 at 9:33 am

A touching story from a very kind lady who truely loves her pets. It takes a lot to put yourself out there Roz. You are a San Ramon treasure. The Dirkarino thanks you for sharing.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on May 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


Thank you, Dirka. Now doesn't it make you feel better to be nice than angry. Being angry isn't good for your heath or your goats.


Posted by , a resident of San Ramon,
on May 19, 2013 at 9:35 pm

The Dirkarino is fair and balanced. If someone spreads misinformation here, the Dirka will call them on it every time. That doesn't mean the Dirkarino is not nice. My goats are awesome, they are majestic creatures, but they are livestock, not pets. Watch a goat jump sometime and tell the Dirkerness is is not cool. Dirkarino has pets too, he likes the kitties and doggies, but does not eat them. Weasel politicians have it coming and so do those who write poorly researched unsubstantiated, unscientific biased dogma and post it where there is a comments section.

Roz, the Dirka has always been kind to you, even if he does not agree with your liberal view of constitutional matters. The Roz has always worked tirelessly for her community and her causes. This is something a reasonable and enlightened person respects, even if he does not agree with the politics. Dirka does not feel better, he does not need to feel better. The Dirka is all good and the goats run free in the pasture, they have no anxiety and their milk is sweet.

Posted by Dirka_Dirka, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 19, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Web Link
Dirka Dirka Bakala

Posted by Baaaaaaah, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 19, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Web Link

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on May 20, 2013 at 1:54 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Wonderful photos, Dirka & Baaaaaaah.

I've never personally owned a goat, but I have gifted goats through organizations like Heiffer Web Link and Oxfam.


Posted by Prudie Silverspoon, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 20, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I think Dirka's goats should join Gambolers Anonymous.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on May 24, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Good news about Cinnamon. I took her in for a blood test on Wednesday and her blood count is back up to 29, which Dr. Ikezawa said is low-normal. Dr. Ikezawa reduced the second dose of prednisone from 1 cc to .5 cc.

Cinnamon is looking much better, more alert and comfortable, and her energy level is back to normal. She has a recheck at BR on Wednesday morning. I am hoping she will receive clean bill of health.


Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on May 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Roz, I enjoyed your story about your San Ramon veterinary services experiences. I will pass your story link on to my daughter, who is graduating from the U.C. Davis veterinary school in a few weeks. She will not be close enough to offer your animals any medical treatment; she will be joining an existing veterinary practice in Visalia, California (that city is located between Fresno and Bakersfield, for anyone who is geographically challenged about Central California communities).

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on May 25, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Congratulations to your daughter. U C Davis is an excellent school and renowned for its Veterinary school. My neighbor Sally complains that there are not enough cat vets in this area. She takes her cats to one in Walnut Creek. I hope your daughter will specialize in cats, and move back here. That's the problem with Bishop Ranch, too many dogs and dog vets!


Posted by Ms. Bunny, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 28, 2013 at 7:59 am

Well Roz, I've owned cats all my life and currently have two. I use to go to Village Parkway and Dorothy Tanner was outstanding but? It turned out I needed more resources hence the switch to Bishop Ranch which is but a mile or two away. I use 3 vets (no names mentioned-all quite knowledgeable about cats) and there are ANOTHER 3 vets I wouldn't "touch" there with a "ten foot pole" (bad experiences) This happens, no big deal, just glad I know who the "red flags" are. Currently, these wonderful 3 vets are all familiar with my cats and each one is most capable and has given me stellar advice and outstanding care to the cats. So I am heartened I made this change 4 years ago. Their capabilities there and resources are WONDERFUL and though I've been kept waiting on rare occasion? It was for emergency situations only which I heartily give way to with no complaints because I've had them myself! Glad things are humming along with the kitties. I'm an animal lover in general - pets make life worth living, no matter what your choice.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on May 28, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Thanks for the comment Ms. Bunny. I thought you had bunnies (I read that in one of your posts). Now I'll have to call you Ms. Kitty, no she was the bartender in the Long Branch Saloon in Gunsmoke.

Can you tell me which of the three doctors at BR are cat specialists and which ones to avoid? You can email me off the record at


Posted by Ms. bunny, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 29, 2013 at 7:43 am

I've raised bunnies, owned a few dogs, mostly cats, birds and tropical fish. I cannot give you the names of who I (underlined) will never return to but? I can give you the name of the best 3 feline vets there:

Dr. Megan Armor
Dr. Larry Gilman
Dr. Kristel Weaver (on maternity leave July thru Sept. no doubt)

Hope this helps...

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on May 29, 2013 at 9:53 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Yes, Ms. Bunny. I have not used those three vets at BR. Dr. Pogrel and Dr. Dodd are both very good too, and Dr. Baine is good but I don't think he's a cat specialist.

I made an appointment with Dr. Armor when I was planning to bring Cinnamon in that afternoon, but Cinnamon was in such bad shape that I got her there as early as I could for emergency treatment. So I didn't see Dr. Armor and have not used her before.


Posted by Ms. Bunny, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 29, 2013 at 10:51 am

Dr. Pogrel KNOWS cats???
Wow. That's a revelation.
You could have fooled me (far more into dogs...)

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