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Compendium July 2009 (Vol 31, No 7)

The Editor's Desk — Food for Thought

by Robin Henry, Senior Editor

    This morning, as I was preparing my daily dose of coffee, my cat Sam gave me one of those looks that only a cat can give you. Outside, a thunderstorm was making the sky resemble the beginning of The Wizard of Oz, and Sam—no fool—was on his way to the basement just in case the house decided to take off. At the top of the basement steps, he turned and looked at me, dressed for work and getting ready to face the weather, and his big, golden, Maine Coon eyes said it all: "So where are you going?"

    Sam—like his domestic shorthair "brother," Angel—has no concept of work, of course. Among the clutter on my office bulletin board, I have one panel of a Get Fuzzy cartoon, in which Rob (the resident human) is yelling at Satchel Pooch and Bucky Katt, "Don't all thank me at once for going out and supporting you two!" Satchel's reply is, "Now…where do you go every day?" Bucky's is more pragmatic: "Bring back food." I've labeled the characters in the strip as "me," "Sam," and "Angel," in that order. That's how it is with cats and work: blissful ignorance. On days when the weather makes my morning alarm seem even earlier than it is, I greatly envy my cats.

    And yet...the past 2½ years as senior editor of Compendium have probably been the most rewarding so far in my 13 years of working in the health care publishing industry. They've been interesting—sometimes in a "may you live in interesting times" kind of way—and challenging. The journal has undergone a complete redesign, and we've launched four new series (Feline Focus, Surgical Views, Focus on Nutrition, and Applied Dermatology), a growing bank of online resources at CECenter.com and Vetlearn.com, and a monthly e-newsletter, Compendium Extra. It takes a talented, committed team of people to make it all come together every month, and I'm fortunate enough to be part of one.

    More importantly, I know that what we do every month matters. In my previous jobs, on the human side of medical publishing, communications went one way: the publications I worked on went out into the world and disappeared, like radio signals into space. Not so with Compendium. Many Compendium readers have a relationship with the journal that goes back years—or even decades—and many have told me so with pride. At this year's ACVIM conference, several people stopped by the Veterinary Learning Systems booth and commented on how much they appreciate the journal. Meanwhile, here in the office, we were fielding e-mails from readers eager to read upcoming online articles.

    Compendium readers also have sharp eyes and wits and aren't shy about e-mailing with questions when something doesn't seem to add up. These e-mails always make me wince, but only because I'm a perfectionist by nature and hate to realize I missed something. The questions themselves are welcome. They prove that not only is the journal being read, but it's being read carefully, by people who find it worthy of comment and correction.

    So it's worth getting up and enduring the pity of my cat on a blustery morning. Sam and Angel will never understand why I let that infernal alarm disturb them 5 days a week, but on the other hand, they can't know the rewards of being involved with a community of people with such an ongoing drive to learn and share knowledge. Reading the articles and communicating with the authors and readers of Compendium make me think hard every day, and I enjoy that. So I'd like to say thank you to everyone who contributes their time to this journal, whether by writing for it, reviewing it, or reading it. It is a privilege to work with all of you.

    And as long as I remember to bring back food, Sam and Angel would agree.

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    NEXT: Abstract Thoughts — Intussusception After Methiocarb Toxicosis in Dogs