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Cool Pet Facts

Hello, readers! Just a quick line to introduce myself, a new member of the District Veterinary Hospital team, Capitol Hill neighborhood and the Hill Rag. I am one of the veterinarians here at District Veterinary Hospital-Eastern Market, along with Dr. Dan Teich.

Originally from Ohio, I attended Ohio State University for my doctorate of veterinary medicine. My husband and I moved to DC this summer with our dog Mira and two cats, Ivy and Rumple. I look forward to meeting you!

Some Help for the Holidays
Ah, the holidays. The crisp weather, the seasonal festivities, the awkward work and family gatherings. Are you prepared for the inevitable fumbling that accompanies questions such as, “I see you have not started a family”? If not, fear not. We here at District Veterinary Hospital are to the rescue. Smooth over any unwelcome question with this bevy of interesting facts about dogs and cats. Trust us, no one will notice.

Cool Words to Drop into Conversation

  1. Borborygmous (bor-bor-ig-muss) is the gurgly sound made by the gastrointestinal tract as it goes about its routine. As in, “Why Aunt Martha, how kind of you to mention the delay in my dissertation. As you can tell from my pronounced borborygmous, I need to go immediately to the appetizer table. Farewell!”
  2. Polydactyl (polly-dac-till) means having extra toes, as is common among cats and great Pyrenees dogs. Try it when asked about the condition of your house. “You know, if only I was polydactyl like my dear cat Persimmon, I feel that I could get a better handle on cleaning.”
  3. Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia (s-feeno-pal-a-teen gang-glio-nur-al-gee-a) is an ice cream headache. We are not sure if dogs experience these, but we sure do. Use the phrase with flourish for a dramatic exit. Throw your hand across your head (ideally after eating something cold) and yell, “Alas! What wretched sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia! Away, I must, away!” No one will question you. We swear.

Cat Facts Relevant to Nearly Any Situation

  1. A group of cats is called a clowder. A group of kittens is called a kindling. Try this when asked about your timeline for having children: “It takes a clowder to raise a kindling, truly. And Joe and I, we are real fire starters for soup.”
  2. Cats have whiskers on the back of their front legs. Best deployed on the co-worker whose personal bubble is lacking in size and who, amazingly, is always right behind you when you turn around. As in, “You know Berrybea, my cat? She has these amazing whiskers on the back of her legs that let her know when something is too close to her, even when she can’t see it. Sometimes I really envy Berrybea.” Pair this with a big step away.
  3. Cats have free-floating clavicles (collarbones), which allow them to squeeze their shoulders through any space that their head can fit. Consider this when the ice cream headache trick does not work. It is best paired with a demonstration. Just be careful to choose a first-floor exit route with a soft landing.

Dog Jokes That Will Make You Immensely Popular

  1. How did the dog stop the discussion? He pressed the paws button. Tell this joke when asked to comment on politics, money or religion. Repeat several times as needed to drop an appropriately large hint.
  2. Why wasn’t the dog a smooth talker? All he could say was “Rough, rough.” This is best reserved for instances of sticking one’s foot in one’s mouth. We find it is best received when followed by a small tail wag.
  3. What do you call a dog that licks an electrical socket? Sparky.

Dog jokes can make excellent cues to one’s partner that the time to escape a certain conversation, party or individual is nigh, especially when said joke is deployed during a particularly awkward silence.

So there you have it: a practically failproof arsenal of facts, jokes and new vocab to push your holiday party game to the top.

Best wishes in your holiday adventures from the team at District Veterinary Hospital. May the cool animal facts be with you.


Libby Torchia, DVM, is at District Veterinary Hospital, 240 Seventh St. SE; 202-888-1230 and desk@districtvet.com.

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