Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jennifer Au & Nutmeg

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Jennifer Au. I am a veterinarian (DVM), an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (DACVS). I am also a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) and the director of the Canine Rehabilitation Service at OSU.

With me is Nutmeg, a 5-year-old female, spayed mixed breed who is probably part spaniel, part pit. Since everyone nowadays likes to have 'hybrid' dogs I like to call her a Spitt-bull for fun.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine? What's brewing?

Nutmeg and I just completed a 5K run hosted by the veterinary students at OSU called Vets for Pets. They help raise money for a local charity as well as promote fitness and welfare of pets and people.

Nutmeg decided to jump in the pond on the route twice. She doesn't need the coffee to warm up but I do. It's a Starbucks Venti skinny carmel latte to get me warmed up.

How were you and Nutmeg united?

While I was on faculty at Michigan State University a few years ago a couple of the 4th year veterinary students on the shelter medicine rotation brought me an injured dog to be evaluated. She had an injury to her hock or ankle causing lameness and instability. I recommended surgical stabilization but unfortunately the shelter was unable to pursue it due to financial constraints.

Back to the shelter she went but I kept thinking about her. One of the students was going back to the shelter later that week to check on another patient. I asked to ride along 'just to see the shelter' since I had never had a chance to visit. Needless to say Nutmeg came home with me that night. She is doing great on her 'ankle' nowadays.

Your OSU biosketch says you have "a strong background in ferret emergency and surgical procedures." What led you to ferrets?

As a kid I was very interested in all sorts of animals, starting off with gerbils and hamsters as pets, moving on over the years to all sorts of 'exotic' pets; rabbits, chinchillas, reptiles, etc. A friend gave me a ferret for my birthday one year and it was love at first sight. That love and interest continued though veterinary school and the early part of my career. During this time I progressed from having a single pet ferret to running a ferret rescue, showing ferrets (yes, there are ferret shows) and breeding ferrets.

After veterinary school I did a 1 year internship at the Animal Medical Center in NYC. My initial intent was to pursue an exotic animal residency and specialize in exotic pets and ferrets primarily. I realized, however, that I was finding myself interested in things outside of the exotic field such as dogs, cats, emergency medicine and surgery. Instead of applying directly for a residency in exotics I took sometime to work in the veterinary field doing primarily emergency work, This allowed me to continue my exotic pet interests but also allowed me to experience dog/cat medicine, emergency medicine and surgery. Ultimately I pursued a surgical internship followed by a 3-year surgical residency at Texas A&M in part because I felt it gave me the best of all worlds: exotics need surgery and a I can help a large number of patients (dogs/cats) by not limiting myself to just the exotic field.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

I'm not exactly sure how I came up with Nutmeg but it just seemed to fit. I think part of it was her color reminded me of nutmeg. My Tante (Aunt) Dine tried very hard to dissuade me from the name fearing we would end up calling her Nut for short. She was right, we do call her Nut for short but it fits her perfectly. Along with Nut there is The Nut (more formal), Nutter, Nut-butt and Nutter-butter. In addition there are the descriptors of 'Spitt-bull' and 'the elusive long-haired pit bull'. If my orange cat, Brooklyn is around, nicknamed Peanut, the pair are Nutter-butter - Peanut–butter.

What is your dog's best quality?

Nutmeg is pure love and happiness. She thinks everyone is her friend and goes belly up to every new person so they can rub her belly.

Her pure joy in the world makes me happy. It doesn't matter what kind of day I had -- she makes me smile and that is priceless.

If Nutmeg could change one thing about Ohioans, what would it be?

She would want people to judge her, and other dogs, individually rather than making a judgement based on a particular breed. She is an ambassador of love and happiness in a (part) pit bull body. She thinks breedism is similar to racism, sexism, etc.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Nutmeg could speak, which actor should do her voice?

I think I would say Julia Roberts but more for her laugh. I just think of Nutter as happy and laughing with a joy about life.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Thank you for a lovely story on a pit-mix. I wish more people would recognize how great these dogs are! Bianca

  2. Nutter is just so sweet. And there is no doubt they were meant to be together.

  3. I have a dog that I think is a spaniel-pit mix too! He looks a lot like Nutmeg, except in a different color.