Sunday, August 27, 2023

The Problem and The Compulsion

I have had this conversation a thousand times before.

A thousand times I have explained the same problem, the same outcomes, the current state of our profession, and the same desperate passionate plea to provide better for the sake of all living things.

With each plea for help, pitch for the solution, and nodding heads of understanding, the problem remains here at my feet grinning. 

The problem sits, consumes and grows.

Problems this big, the kind of big that swallows lives and breaks hearts, can define a life. 

I may have come to vetmed to save pets lives, but this profession is more than practicing medicine, it is about protecting and saving lives. When I can't do this it's a big problem. This problem has gripped my life's work and taken it into a place I never thought I would become so compelled and stuck within.

What do you do with a problem that allows suffering, denies culpability and consumes as it festers? Well, I guess if I am me I dig in. 

I am now companions with my problem. My problem has become my compulsion. As compelled as I was to become an adult and leave the shadows of a small existence in an even smaller northern town. Compelled to be unburdened by the confines of a family fleeing a city that left them feeling monitored and microscopic. To the girl who I once was compelled to find a bigger life with a chance at freedom to the cost of a uniform. To be compelled to go to sea for a decade to buy your second chance elsewhere. Compelled to fight and outlast the years it took to get into veterinary school and quench that little girls soul still alive inside her and be the Herriott she heralded. I am compelled to do this too. Shake the ground so hard that the tallest tress tremble and the smallest beings benefit. Just like all of these before I will not stop until this to is notched in my belt and a little piece of kindness is given back to those who never formed the language to ask.

Here's the pitch, (for the one-thousandth-plus time), in small bites;

"The house is ALWAYS stacked against you." Whatever veterinary clinic you walk into, (and for my analogy: any casino), they have the upper hand, almost all of the control, and very little, (if not intentionally absent), motivation to provide you all of the options available to you and your pet and no upfront transparency to allow you to be prepared, informed or flexible once you walk in their door. I used to hope that moral fortitude, ethical foundations, and our own soul-filled desire to make a difference within the profession we were all so passionate about might motivate a righting of the compass, but it appears the gap grows ever wider and the despair ever deeper. 

"There are so few governing rules in veterinary medicine that it has allowed the single minded behemoths to eat up the landscape for profits without limitations." If you work in a profession that is being acquired by venture capitalists there is a dollar figure so alluring you take notice. Why is it happening so quickly in veterinary medicine? Money. Just money. We are perfectly positioned to be so lucrative the vultures are eating us up in record numbers in record time. Here's the facts that allow vetmed to be so profitable. For many people our pets are our reasons for everything. Price is not set by, nor limited, nor overseen, nor fixed, nor ceilinged, for anything from anyone at anytime. We, the profession, the individual and the facility, can charge anything we want for anything you need/want. The reason; well pets are property, and the market will bear what costs are, until it's 2 am and your pet is dying and you have no other options, AND, no one publishes their prices. Consumers don't ask, don't know, and don't have the ability to query costs before, nor, negotiate during a pet visit. You are a victim to an establishment that now has you hostage, and we know it. How does that feel when your pet is dying, sick, and you are both at the mercy of someone just out to make money? The house is ALWAYS stacked against you. And no, you shouldn't trust us. We don't work for us, or you, or pets anymore.

What is the price you put on your pets head? Maybe its not a question you have ever had to ask yourself but be warned it is the only question the VC's in this arena care about. If they think you will spend $20,000 for a pyometra that's what they ask. How many of you have access to that at 2 am? How many of you couldn't afford this and will have only one other option given to you; euthanasia. 

The system is getting worse as the money gets fatter cats, fatter. Ask your vet if they work for a corporately owned VC? Ask them if they received a sign-on bonus? What if that sign-on bonus was $250,000? Who do you think is going to pay for that? How much is the price on your pets head worth? How else can those sign-on bonuses be paid? I promise it isn't coming out of the fat-cat at the top of the food chain who owns the place, and btw has zero interest, nor experience, nor knowledge of any aspect of vetmed other than its profitability.

So, now that you understand the money, let's talk about the other thing the house has on its side; liability.

Liability is managed in CYA documentation. We are very good at this. We are, after all now owned by the fat-cats with the fat-cat lawyers. Although the single veterinary practitioners liability insurance hasn't met any other kind of human medical malpractice comparison, we pay hundreds, they pay tens of thousands, when we start to ask $20,000 for a pyo, (remember pets are property, we only need to provide "replacement" value) it might be time to change the valuation of our culpability. 

Are you beginning to believe that the house has this gig rigged yet?

Let's talk about signing documents? Are we the only profession in the world that has customers sign something AND NOT GIVE THEM A COPY IMMEDIATELY? Why is that? And why can't clients turn the table on this practice? Why aren't we providing guidance to save lives instead of practicing a professional skill to avoid liability while we with hold access and options? (More on this via Pawbly.com soon).

Here are some of the stories I get sent every day. (Find all of them on my YouTube channel and Pawbly.com)

From my friend;

"My cat was a diabetic. He was having some kind of crisis and needed emergency surgery? Our $5,000 walk-in deposit went to $10,000 within a few hours. We didn't have the $5,000 and we certainly couldn't pay the $10,000." I knew what was coming next. Yes, they euthanized."

What the actual,,,, I have never had a emergent diabetic case that needed surgery. And every, (yes people EVERY) case has options. Like, let's start with insulin and fluids. Basic medicine every vet was taught. We don't practice affordable care because it is not maximum-profits care.

The practice owner I met last week at the veterinary career fair summed it up perfectly. "It is our job to offer best practice care (i.e. most profitable) and if they cannot afford that, then we offer other options." Sounds kind of unfair to you, the consumer, doesn't it? 

To the weekly requests I receive to unblock a cat, look for a nasopharyngeal polyp, or save a pyometra (all of these cases are given with real-life pets on my YouTube channel) for a tiny fraction of the costs being given elsewhere, I have to remind myself that I am not alone. I cannot fight for all of these pets, provide all of these services alone. And so my war with the current state of vetmed wages on. 

Unblock cat here.

Cat with polyp case here. And here.

Pyometra here.

For those of you who don't care, maybe you think you are sheltered? Some of you are. Some of you have a great vet who you know and care about, and, who you believe cares about you too. Some of us are still out here working for ourselves. Putting our own reputation and shingle on the line. We are affordable because we care about you AND your pet. We value what we always have; being a trusted part of our community. We care about lives, legacies, and ethical traditional vetmed values. But what will happen when we leave, or retire, or die? What will happen to you and your pet when we have to decide what the future holds for our clinics? What happens when its 2 am, we are closed and you need help from someone else?  What do you think your vet will do for you when you are at the front door of the fat-cat clinic? Ask them? Don't wait until you find out in real-time with a real emergency.

Go back to rule number 1. The house always wins. When your pet needs something, critically needs something you will very quickly be reminded that pets are now a luxury for the rich. No longer the middle class, but the rich. Rich people seek other rich people to get richer,, they don't apologize for this. When I started in vetmed in the 80's an exploratory surgery, let's say for a corncob stuck in the intestines, was about $300. Ten years ago it climbed to about $1,000 to $1,500. Five years ago $4,000. Today, at almost every specialty, and some ER's it is $10,000. How many people can afford this? What happens when a corn cob isn't removed? Your pet dies. Dying of a treatable condition used to be far less common because veterinarians had obligations they took personal responsibility. We had our own practice to protect. We were a part of our community and word would get around fast if we failed to help, failed to provide care, or even worse if we failed to provide an affordable service. 

the easiest thing for you to do, and the way the house insures its victory, is by you giving up. Once you sign that euthanasia form, it is over. You have conceded all and given permission. I know, and I do believe that there is no greater gift then ending suffering kindly, but, how many pets are given up on because vet med has made any other outcome impossible? There is a war coming to vetmed. There will be enough people forced to abandon the one being they love more than anything this world holds and the war will be for them. There is a class action lawsuit that will follow, and with this a littany of others will follow. People will have their voices heard and this profession will have the first righting forced upon them after never have had one before. 

Property. As the legal liberties are awarded, and the price points become both transparent, publicly provided, and openly traded services will provide some degree of stability and fairness. Does the profession want to lose the legal status of pets being property? No. With this definition there is a limit to liability we face when clients seek compensation for damages. But, the classification of property 

ways to escape being a victim;

independent practices. find, meet and ask the owner what you can do, or need to do, to be cared for. P.S. "get insurance" should not be, and cannot be, the only answer.

This profession has wounds that run deep. We have apologies to be spoken, and we have a path that cannot continue at the pace and prices we are requesting.

I have been a veterinarian for almost 20 years. I have seen every kind of case with every kind of pet parent behind it. Very, very few are without hope nor options. I have also owned a practice for almost all of this time. Are the prices skyrocketing into exorbitant? Yes, they already have. Are there veterinarians and owners out there profiting without remorse? Absolutely. When you live in a place that loves money more than life, profits more than 

Be very careful what you wish for? Want to be the one-and-only decision maker for your pet? Then they are property. Want to have every treatment option available for the most beloved being in your life? Better have deep pockets and instant availability for those dollars. Want to be insulated from heartbreak because your love for your pet leaves you vulnerable? Just remember that the person who decides whether or not your pet gets the care they need has a limitless ceiling and you are at the ends of their strings. They give you care based on two things; your ability to pay, and their willingness to help you. Thats it. Feeling like a your pet is a pawn in a venture capitalists portfolio? They are. Welcome to my problem. I suggest you get pissed enough to do something about it before you get screwed and have your heart broken over the loss of your treatable companion.

And maybe think about the price on your pets head before it's 2 am and you have to consider it, and start demanding a change now. The divide between need and access is getting wider and the 


Here's what's ahead;

its time to put liability CYA paperwork in pet parents hands.

its time that pet parents be given all of the options, with written line item estimates, before a deposit is given.

its time for transparency;

its time to publish who owns the clinic you are at.

who was given a sign-on bonus that might have influenced the price on your pets head.

its time to publish average costs of care before a pet parent drives to your facility at 2 am.

its time for accountability outside of the faces of the veterinarians who are already emotionally bankrupt and emotionally unwell.

its time for the public to re-think the laws that dictate the unconditionally loving, uniquely beloved soul sleeping/purring next you in bed every night as disposable/replaceable property.

it's time to compel the house to meet your needs and standards and put them out of business before they bankrupt your ability to love your pet.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

The Hardest Days.

The hardest days are lived in snapshots.

Frozen moments of the day that solidify, remain indelible, and scar. 

I have collected mountains of them. Held them in my arms like a clutch of kittens too fragile to walk away from and too demanding to dismiss. I know they are the villains to my story that makes the read worthwhile, but when away and alone I sit and wonder if I need to be so burdened by them. How can I extract the color without bleaching the meaning they must hold for me to carry them for so long?

The past few weeks have been vibrant and jarring. The color that propels heartrates into arrythmias.

I live within the proverb; intentions matter. I also suffocate screaming for merciful reprieve because these two words are so impactful. Within these intentions you are left to question motives at every movement. Veterinary medicine is a quagmire of bipolar extremes. Emotionally charged, diabolically opposing, with violently swinging requests of the pet care spectrum you often cannot foresee. What gives a family the gift of a graceful, peaceful passage, also leaves the other owner with a disposable/replaceable burden they simply want eradicated. The purveyor of these passings is too often  given a heavy burden. Or, what one family wants and will fight for another will dispose of without whim or wait. I have been bullied, berated and threatened for caring too much, and too little. Never have I euthanized a treatable pet without fighting to give them every chance, at no cost, which somehow vilified me even more. I have been dumped for an easier practitioner who works on an upfront-pay-and-I'll-remain-mute basis because I dared to open my mouth to attempt to defend a pets life. I have been threatened when I refused to be a part of a pets undoing unjustly. And with each I remind myself "that no good deed" often comes with punishment, however unintended, and unwarranted. I have also come to realize that a dignified end of life death is often a merciful act. But, dare I try to be the inspector of this intention, question the reason, and the tables will swiftly turn from humble request to angry accusations. How is it my place, my duty, and my obligation to question who dies and when? 

I am often asked if euthanasia's are the toughest part of my job, (I have written about this before), and no, when I am being asked this it is always at the hand of someone who loves so deeply they see beyond themselves. A euthanasia request for a pet that hasn't seen a vet in years and is suffering from a treatable condition they still don't want to try to treat, yeah, that's soul-sucking. A euthanasia request because it's cheaper to buy a new one than deal with the old one, yeah, that's a cancer you never recover from. This is my life. The one I chose. The one I fought so hard for.

For the pet owner (emphasis on owner for this is the only title that provides such privilege), the mere perception that I would ever question their intentions or motives can/has unleashed raw anger and threats of questioning your own compassionate humanity. On the flip side there are so many euthanasia's I have declined for fearing my thinly skinned heart could not bear witness, nor survivors remorse, from the act. I believe that for almost all of us veterinarians our internal parting words for excusing these acts, even when we cannot understand, nor agree with the motive(s), are; "if not us, who?" For within these requests there is always a pet, this piece of property, that will be/can be abandoned, tortured, hurt, or dropped to be surrendered at the shelter for the same request. If an owner wants it to be done, it will be done. Just as all property can be disposed of. No law, shame, or unjust reason will change this. So it happens, almost always, that these pets can leave by my hand with me telling them softly that they mattered and they are seen. I, in every goodbye, steal a moment for myself to say that they are everything that holds value and they are loved. I can at least always give them that. And then pardon myself in silent solidarity later. 

Euthanasia, in vetmed is the Medusa of intentions. I am the Master of my own acceptance that I am confident in my own intentions, I will never be everything to everyone. I have grown into an adult who rarely cares anymore if I am liked. I am not mute and I insist on this being married to my intentions.

This week brought us two families who tragically had to say goodbye to two pets within the same day, two days apart. When I admit that this has never happened before in my 18 years of practice I cannot believe it happened two days in a row. How is it that luck never translates to lottery tickets? I had been asked if I would do both dogs at the same visit? A way to condense the pain into a more efficient way to let one dog say goodbye to the other before we said goodbye to him? Thankfully we both agreed this would be too difficult on our hearts.

I have done double euthanasia's on two other occasions. Both were excruciating. After each I promised myself I wouldn't/couldn't do this again. The grief around these always leaves me reeling. I feel twisted in my intentions, and guilty in considering to deny it. How can I be a veterinarian who knows there needs to an end to a suffering we cannot avoid, and not feel a stab of feeling selfish within considering how to address and face this request. Euthanasia's however hard, can't ever be about me I reminded my inner gooey-yolk of a heart.

The first double euthanasia was two old black labs. They were 13 years old brothers, struggling to remain ambulatory. They had great difficulty getting up and walking more than a few steps without collapsing in pain. They lived on a sprawling, verdant bucolic farm and their quality of life was significantly impacted. The owner was not able to get one of them in the car, never mind two, so I agreed to come to the house. When I arrived they saw me approaching, and as if by some divine interventional miracle managed enough energy to get up from the front porch and run a half a mile in different directions. I followed the slower one to the west, sunset in my eyes, dragging my medical bag to the edge of the property to find him solo. I knew then that I had made a significant rookie mistake; coming alone, agreeing to do this in the first place and a massive miscalculation on time, ability to drag a deceased 80 pound dog back to the house and then repeat the process on the other. I too had not planned for how I was going to get them into my car. (Have we ever talked about the physics of dead weight being much heavier than alive? Someone has to have done a research paper on this?). The logistics, inability to walk so far, bring dogs back from so far and the emotional turmoil about how to make this horrible day less horrible for a pet parent who couldn't/wouldn't help me with this was traumatizing to all of us. Pets, all animals, all living beings, seem to sense goodbyes, and regardless of how warranted they are, they react. The reserve of adrenaline to preserve their life defies all diagnostics and prognostic indicators. The primitive call to get up and run even when you know you are no longer viable to evade allows bodies to defy biology and physiology. I can tell myself every moment of my professional, and personal life that I am here to relieve suffering, but yes, the desperate plea of those pitifully sad eyes looking at you as you send them away can hurt so bad you cannot find solace in the present, nor your intentions.

The second double pet euthanasia was a long time client who battled a many-years long breast cancer battle. When she went into remission after a year of treatment she bought herself a Corgi puppy. She had set that as her accomplishment prize and she wanted to be well enough to take on another Corgi. Her original Corgi was about 3 years old by now. Young enough for a sibling and sweet enough to allow one without bitterness or jealousy. She wanted to be sure she would be well enough to care for both of them. Almost 8 years passed and her battle reappeared and raged again. In a matter of a few short months she lost all of her body weight, her hair and her spicy wit. When she elected hospice her last wish was for her dogs to be with her in her casket. She made an appointment with me to ask me if I would be there for her in this request as I had been there with her in all of the rest of her pets lives. I struggled with this request so deeply and profoundly that it almost broke me. Truly, it was the single most wrenching thing to be asked. I was this woman's trusted veterinarian for almost 12 years. She valued my compassionate care for her dogs, and knew that I cared for her as I cared for them.  We had been a team for all that was our lives with her most beloved companions and she had one more request for me to assist her with. She wanted the four of us to be together to say goodbye to her dogs that she could no longer take care of. I spent hours almost begging her to see if we could find them a place to go together. She was convinced that they would be neglected, mistreated, or unable to build a new life without her. She wanted to be present at their departure and she wanted them to be with her as she was laid to rest. It was one of the most emotionally gutting moments. How do I put all of my love, attention and energy into one euthanasia and then within moments try to muster it all genuinely for the other? I had flashbacks of being at the county shelter where the pets would be lined up as if in a genocide to clear the cages. One, after another, after another, Void of the dignity that ending a life turned into out right killing should be made of. It was the longest, most brutal, most conflicting experience. A few months later their mom passed away at home from metastatic breast cancer, I hope they are all together on a couch feeling like their family of love has enough belly rubs and wiggle-butt endearments to make the after life as magnificent as we all hope it to be.

These last weeks I have averaged about 3 euthanasia's a day. We joke that euthanasia requests always uptick in the days before major holidays, (Thanksgiving for the win), with all of the family arriving and the incontinent pet being the main incentive. Or the days before Summer vacation departure when you cannot come to terms with the emotional trauma of leaving a sick pet in someone else's care, or the inner turmoil of cancelling the trip because you expected they wouldn't have lived this long when you booked it 6-8 months ago. Or the back to school chaos and the days that you have to go back to work, the kids will be away all day and the luxury of constant care via Summers timetable. 

Last week a very old, very poorly looking lab came calling for help. She could barely walk or lift her head. She was labored, exhausted and sporting a severely distended belly of fluid. Within a few minutes I had confirmed what my fears told me. She was bleeding internally and there were only two options and a stopwatch timer to decide them within. She was dying in front of us and we either needed to get her on the surgery table immediately or euthanasize her now before she died imminently.

The response is universally the same. A tidal wave of tears, and a few moments to talk amongst the family to decide. They decided to let her go but only after they called the kids to come say goodbye. What ensued was two girls under age 6 bawling and screaming in agonal grief. The girls insisted on being present, a decision I feel very strongly is not theirs to decide, and subsequent hatred toward the veterinarian who was "killing" their dog. I was yelled at, thrown fists at, and made to feel like the most horrible human on the planet, which to this day, and likely every day of their lives I will be referred to as. How else can they process their heart break? How would I have been any different at their age? Why do we have to let our little kids see things that aren't going to be anything other than devastatingly painful?

And why do my shoulders have to be so broad as my heart grows so hypertrophied, thin, big and bulging with the responsibility I cannot always accept as kind?

Why if I am so convinced about the inherent holiness of my intentions do my convictions question my motives?


Ok, I know this one was a tough one,, so for all of us who need a reminder.,,, Here are some photos of my week and why I still love being who I am and doing what I do,, and how often one bleeds its color into the other,,, my ombre life.

Seraphina,, my beloved cat waiting for me to get back in my desk chair.

Winnie takes a quick nap while waiting for more treats during her puppy visit.

One of my favorite faces,, this is Goose. He always makes me feel like being a veterinarian is the highest honor possible.

Josie getting ready to go home after her spay.

These two are my giggles in my day., This is Lydia and Grace holding our beloved Hamilton.
If a clinic has a soul it is the reflection of the people who make all we do possible

Penny,, and her worried face. Beagles are my favorite breed but the lack the badge of courage,, which they make up for in adorable-ness. She was here for a 2 second visit and a hug from her mom.

The most challenging internal medicine case of my career is crowned by this little one. This is Snickers.. the most loved pup you will ever find. 


I write about the life I live. Complicated, conflicted and full of purpose. For more please search a topic and see what 10 years of blogging and 18 years of practice yields.



Saturday, August 12, 2023

What Am I Supposed To Do?

The question plays on repeat. Over, and over. And, over again.

It is inescapable. Perplexing, vexxing, and excruciating. All of these and sticky beyond excision. 

Nana, broken leg, ER advice; "surgery 10k, or euthanize"
my advice; "cage rest" 
she is alive and doing well today because her dad refused to have only two options for her



There are fixable veterinary problems all around me. In my effort to provide exposure to these treatable and yet often ignored veterinary issues, encouragement to face and fix them, I seem to have made myself the wailing post. I have become the beacon for hope and last place for help when there is none to be found at the footsteps of present veterinary provider. 

My question isn't why I have become this person, my question is how do I keep from becoming the only vet who cares enough to put the patient before the profits and the fear?

And all of those blocked cats..


I have spent a great deal of  time asking me how I got here? Why I feel so alone here, and what the hell I do about it? 

I have spent so much time in the problem that I cannot walk away. I cannot shutter it, suffocate it, stow it, or sacrifice it. I am in it, wholly and without reserve. 

What would you do if you knew there were answers, some of them ridiculously easy to solve,  answers that would save lives, save human hearts from being crushed, and right a wrong that just grows more egregious as it  consumes the caring around it.

What do I do?

And all of those PU surgeries

Today it was another desperate plea. A question on the Pawbly, the pet care site asking for help. They are always the same. 

"I love my pet. They are my whole world. They have this problem..... I have been to so many vets, no one cares. I saw your video. Is there anyway you can help me?" .. and there is always a photo. A photo of the pet. So sweet, innocent, and fragile and in desperate need. How do I turn away from those faces?  How do I stay in this profession if I sacrifice my ability to have compassion so strong it compels?

Babybear

Veterinary medicine is about taking care of animals. Somewhere along the day to day grind this got lost. It became about money, and egos, and trying to be bigger than our britches. We became distant from our purpose, and divided from our clients. When it was not profitable, or easy, or worth our time we blamed them, the clients, the people who make all of this possible. We used cruelty to remind pet parents that this illness, this unforeseen accident, disaster, (albeit treatable), isn't worth us intervening if they can't pay us handsomely for it. The cost of care has skyrocketed, the treatment for all of the ailments remains what it was decades ago when everything was a few  hundred dollars, or less. 

.. and so I remain here. Asking myself the same question and dedicated to finding, exposing, and disrupting the same problem.

Want to see what I am talking about?

See my YouTube channel 

or Pawbly.com 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

The Cost Of Hope

 Hope. When there is everything, and nothing, there is still hope.

Hope, for me in vetmed, is all of those blocked cats who never see a chance at help
because we may it too expensive.

A long time ago there was a girl who was afraid. Of all of the things she was this one thing dominated. It was what propelled her, crippled her, and reminded her. It was the beast she lay victim to for all of the days. It was the affliction her mother had and her mother before her. It was everything and nothing. It was, and it was what she let it be. 

It was like this for a very long time. A lifetime, and then, a lifetime more. 

Mom in her barn for her first antique sale.
She was beamingly happy, can't you tell?

It took a long time to recognize the part of her she didn’t have to be. She knew that there had to be more to this journey. The one she woke up to everyday to repeat the whole pattern again. But when you carry a beast so big, and so heavy, for so long, it is hard to raise your eyes above it. Maybe fear is the antidote to hope? she thought. And, maybe hope was the cure for her fear? And with that it began; the daily ritual of pulling her bootstraps up and raising her chin above the horizon, just to see if maybe out there somewhere there was another option to her fear. Maybe there was a place she could leave it? Just to rest its weary head for a while. Maybe, it was as tired of her as she was of it? Maybe, they could exist without each other? The shell without the cortex. The cure without the disease. Maybe, if she could grow big enough and strong enough, she could outgrow its need for her, and with all things that persist long enough, her need for it? Maybe? Just maybe?

What happens is that time works its magic on you and you grow comfortable with even the most horrible. You get used to each other to a degree that makes it hard to coexist without each other, even when the other half is a cancer stealing you from yourself. A bad marriage arranged on the most horrific of terms. Life is like that. It will kill you if you let it. Leach you to anemia just to see what the reserve tank has in it. Medicine, the art of molecular life in the grips of another life, the host with its many moving parts all required to work in tandem even when they have opposing agendas, is just like this. A dance, a tango set to a music you cannot always chose. You try to lead but you know the tempo might change and there may be feet stepped on as you tip-toe across the floor. 

Isn’t life like this for all of us? The calculations of actions you make silently within to try to make it through life with as little turmoil, pain, and scarring as possible. At what point do we learn that if you don’t have one side of the coin its impossible to know the other. Maybe with age there is wisdom and the ability to excise the fear so you can live with just the hope?

Outer Banks. Duck

Today is Mother’s Day. The day that we all celebrate the origin of our existence on the double X chromosome in our own DNA. For me, 5/14 is the day my mother died. On this day at 4:14 pm in a little stone house not too far from my own, my mom took her last breath. I say this as it marks a date, impermeable, and in-excisable. The pivot point to which the calendar resets, and a life without another starts. I say this because that day changed so much within me. There is a book to write about her, and her impact upon me. A book that sits waiting for the time and the distance to write it without it eating me up. Consuming me like the fear that swallowed her and kept her trapped within.

Today I remind myself that there is life after another life passes on. I cannot call her gone. She is never gone. She is here all around me reminding me to always have hope. To always see the beauty and the joy in the life that exists even if you have a difficult time seeing through the tears. Today I talk about hope.

Today I opened my eyes before the sun came up. The sky crept from black to the darkest of blue. A grey-washed out kind of blue. Smeared in its blurry shadows. Quiet, heavy, and slumbered with a fog that keeps all of the earth’s tiny souls safe in their beds. The first rays of sunshine wake up the world and to this awakening the first chirp can be heard. It is my time to be alone and feel as if the world will remind me that I am never really solitary. One little chirp. Just a call in the almost-darkness to awaken the rest. I turn on my Merlin app, and start to record. I now know that this tiny rooster call is an American Robin. Maybe being afraid, and trying to replace it with hope is about seeing the bravery in the darkest of places and still singing?



The potting shed. Mom and Diedra's boys

I made a video the other week about all of the clients I see who come to me having to lay their pet to rest after disease, and age, and all of the many afflictions that life can wear you down from. They always ask me the same thing, without fail; they ask, “this must be the hardest thing that you have to do as a veterinarian?” And I always reply the same way… “No. You loved your pet so much that you made them a part of your family. They were loved every moment of their lives. How lucky they are for that, and I know they are so grateful to have been yours.” That is the hope in the face of fear. That is the beauty in the face of death. Maybe losing someone you love is about remembering the hope they brought you every day you were together?

With hope springs gratitude eternal. Is there anything we wouldn’t give for that?

Happy Mother’s Day to you all. (regardless of what your chromosomes or current children roster looks like)..

The first icy drink of Summer. A mojito from our mint patch.
Diedra, mom and me.

And P.S. go out and foster, adopt, and live life with someone else… pets count as kids these days,, so we are all moms here. Maybe there is life outside of the one you are living right now where hope springs eternal? And, maybe its time to go look for it? Let’s all look for hope in the love that reminds us we are all mothers. 

P.S. I write about all of the issues that being me brings. I know that I am not alone and I hope (there's that word again), that others hear me and know that they aren't alone either.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Inspiring My Compulsion

 I often wonder which I am,

how much of the current circumstances dictate one v. the other. And, why I have to allow the compulsion to have such a negative connotation even when I know that they both play off of each other and feed into each other. 

My kitten Birdie, who I saved from being unwanted, from a 4 month long rabies quarantine, named, spayed, vaccinated, and then gave her a home full of love.
She is checking out her Easter basket I made and the flowers we grew and bouquets I created. 

I tell myself over and over, like some meditational affirmation, that as long as my intentions are pure and genuine with the goal being to serve something and someone beyond me, that it isn't terribly important to categorize and profile. Right? 

Can I be both inspired and compulsive? Is one beneficial and the other detrimental? Can I be a half of two and more than one as the product?

The bike path, Georgetown to Lewes, Delaware

Yesterday we went for a run with the dogs. We are staying at my friends beach house in Lewes, Delaware for the week. Myself, my husband Joe, my sister Diedra, and her two boys along with one of their friends. Our normal routine is to get up around 8 (a good two hours past our normal at home chore and make it to work time), and run with the dogs before it gets too hot outside. The typical mid-July day temps are mid-nineties, and the sun is brutal in its prime. The dogs are excellent vacationers. They are used to being included in all family activities, but they still need outside time and bathroom opportunities. We have a short jog to the old railroad trail that is now blacktopped and wide enough for the brigade of bikes that it hosts. We can go right and head to downtown where The Station on Kings resides. The Station is a barn like looking structure with a sunbathed sky-light interior and a garden store adjacent. White marbled countertops showcase delectable baked goods that are irresistible to all of the senses that attempt to talk down the blood sugar count. This particular morning we ran to the left. Two miles to the left is Old World Breads bakery. Old World hits you within a half mile of its ovens. The invisible lasso of egg sandwiches, fluffy yeasty crusted rolls and coffee is cosmic. The dogs prefer left too. Like the horse returning to the barn these pups pull you to the breads in a hopeful dash to carb-ed bliss. The jog in either direction is only a few miles under a tree canopy tunnel. The dogs are used to sharing the road and they love the adventure almost as much as their chaperones do. 



At each destination we take turns going into the bakery. Dogs aren't allowed and I would never trust mine to not whine and beg in some pitiful display of unmet needs. I stick to a coffee, small. Pack light and stay prepared for the run back. This morning we collected our coffees, packed a backpack with goodies and headed to the nearby park bench to swallow gulps of hot coffee and plan the rest of the day. 

The Station On Kings, Lewes, Delaware



There is only one bench. Sitting there smiling in the shade was a young woman and her flat tired bike. We asked to sit next to her and watched as the dogs approached wagging and gleeful. It is a beach town where dogs are ubiquitous, but that doesn't imply everyone's affirmation to pet loving. Thankfully as they approached she offered a hand of hello. Within minutes we had exchanged basic introductions. Dogs names first, her predicament second. She was biking 20 miles to run her errands for the day and enjoy the sunshine. She, like us, does everything she can to avoid cars, heavy traffic and the bustle the rest of the world accepts as collateral for living in the beaches. She was waiting for her daughter to wake up and come rescue her. We offered to head home and come back to get her with our car. 




"Nope, it's a beautiful day out. So, I am just going to enjoy it here." She was perfectly content to sit and watch the rest of the beach ride by. 

Old World coffee counter

I was struck by her answer. I don't think I can remember the last time that I took joy in being stranded and having to rearrange my list of errands for the day because of it. 

Old World Breads pretzel













Diedra chatted her up and together they both realized they were teachers who agreed that the pulse of the Summer allowed the rest of the years chaos to be permissible. My sister is a math teacher. All rules and animosity to students who struggle to conform to its rigidity. This mom with the flat tire, an art teacher in the local high school. She has been here for over two decades. Long enough to have seen this place balloon into high rises, condos, and vanishing farm lands. 


"I came here as a child. It was always our Summer retreat spot. When I graduated college I got my first job here, lived on the beach in the Summer and I couldn't leave." She now has ids of her own and still cannot get enough of the sunshine and its Summer vibes.

Beach life

She got me thinking about my life. Where I am, how I got here and how much the sun, the sand and the sea influences my joy.


I used to dream of being an artist. immersing my whole soul into color, The creative outburst of just feeling set into the world for pure joy. It is the reason I do so many incursions into my back yard and excursions into the big city. The reason I write and read and find escape in other peoples work. 



The photos of my kids,, at home.

I live vicariously through others. I surround myself with clothes, shoes, jewelry and interior design. I build and acquire and put little pieces of my soul out into the world. Some of it is buried in an abdomen. The magic of surgery set to make the patient a more viable soul to go back into the realm of the living. 





Maybe I get the creative process mixed up with the artistic influence? And maybe the work I build doesn't have to be for pure aesthetics. Maybe the work I do is all about feelings and the hidden magic that building yourself into an expert entails.

Seraphina and me. A very good example of my work.
my inspiration and my compulsion.

Is my passion the same as my inspiration and my compulsion? Yes. Call me what you want but I get to live a life that allows me personal expression, freedom to live and love and the acknowledgment that it makes lives better,, even if those lives can't pay me, or thank me, or allow me to sign my name to it. It's all about giving back and sharing joy. The mark of any great artist. 

The Artists Village in Asheville NC


What inspires you? And, is it enough to compel you to do something?


Tuesday, July 11, 2023

How Our Pets Define Us.


This is a copy of my most recent Facebook post on my veterinary clinic's page.

This is me. On any given day. There hasn’t been one patient, or one moment of my veterinary life, (or, personal life), where I don’t tell my patients how much I love them. 

I’m working on a project about how much we love, adore, and live for our pets. 

I know my story about why I am so dedicated and devoted to my pets, (and patients), but I want to hear your thoughts. What does your pet mean to you? How much do you love them and why? DM me or post here. (And let me know if I can use your story). Go!


Here are the responses I received:

From Kristen;


This is Sarge. I have other pets (who I love dearly) but Sarge is the first dog I had on my own as an adult. He’s been with me through everything for the last 7 years. He’s been with me through the best times and he’s been with me through the absolute worst times in my life. He’s never judged me for mistakes I’ve made. He loves me unconditionally and I love him just as much if not more. He’s not the brightest bulb the majority of the time (lol) and he may be terrified of a 6lb cat but I love him anyway. He’s getting older and his muzzle gets more and more grey every single day it feels like. The day I have to say goodbye to him will be the absolute worst day and I hope it doesn’t come anytime soon πŸΎπŸ’™

From Karen; 


California Cotton( CeCe). And yes, she feel & looks as soft as cotton. She came to me in the summer of 2011, a feral born kitten sleeping on my patio chaise lounge one morning. Making a long story short, I was able to gain her trust & bring her inside to become my constant companion. She made the 1960 mi cross county trip with our retirement relocation from south Cali to west Tn. I love her dearly!!! She is a snowshoe Siamese, 12 yrs old now. You may use my story.....CeCe loves suitcases.♡



From Katie:

Fiona

When I got Fiona a few months after my cat, Pumpkin tragically died, my dad told me that she was so special and Pumpkin sent her to my life for a reason. I thought he was crazy, until my little Fiona saved my mom’s life. 

Fiona and my mom’s dog, Sophia, got in a little spat and my mom tried to break it up. Fiona inadvertently bit my mom’s breast. Fast forward a few weeks, her breast was very tender which sent her to the doctor and then to get a mammogram. The mammogram showed breast cancer. My mom wasn’t due to get a mammogram for some time and luckily the cancer was caught early enough, she only needed a partial lumpectomy and radiation. 

Without Fiona, this event would have never happened and the cancer would most likely still be undetected. 

Fiona has brought so much joy to our lives and there is nothing we wouldn’t do for her!




From Jewel;


I have always had dogs. Some touch you deeper but you love them all. My son died 15 years ago and his dog passed 2 years later. It was so painful. Several years later I brought home a stubborn, arrogant Chessie pup. We didn't bond right away. Something kept getting in my way. Well, then he bloated and during his recovery, they had me come to the clinic and feed him because he wouldn't eat. You could see his eyes light up, giving me side eye, waiting for me to hand feed him. He is still stubborn but we are forever bonded. He saved me and he sleeps in my bed!





Milla and Morrocco


From Dee; 


Unconditional love, no judgement, wet kisses, & wants nothing but a nice belly rub & daily walks with daddy. Archie is a rescue from a kill shelter. Best thing my husband & I ever did was bringing this funny 4 legged animal into our home. He is loved & he gives so much love in return.❤️

From Robin;
Simply unconditional love from all my pets. Even on days where I am a bit down, they cheer me up just.by being there....They're dependent on me for everything and give so much love in return..3 cats and 1 dog..all rescued! ❤️

From Melinda;


This is my Stella, she came to me about a year before my 14.5 year old pit had to be put done Christmas night from what y’all believed was a brain tumor, Stella has been my heart dog as Carolina was my soul dog, Stella makes my life a little brighter everyday she’s always so happy and full of life but willing to cuddle with me Ans give me lovings at the same time. She’s not my only one I also have a male trouble And recently added Jack to the pack. There is also 4 ferrets and 3 cats that are all part of the family they all keep my busy but i wouldn’t have it any other way and of course use away

From Susan; 

I have no children of my own...my pets have always been my children. ❤️


From Marko:


My wife and I have been married for almost 31 years now. She had never had dogs but always wanted one. Even before we got married we got our first yellow lab. Had 5 additional labs over the ensuring years, unfortunately several passed from cancer. 6 years ago we had lost our last best friend and thought we could never go through it again. But time passed and the pain dulls and we started seeing lots of puppies on Facebook. We got the bug….ok I got it and she put up with it. We were very lucky to get our best friend ever, Riptide. For the past 18 months he has grown and gotten more sweet every day. He’s smart, goofy and utterly affectionate and loyal. He loves to go on walks with me, we talk all the time, he tries to talk back. He’s funny and knows it and it has lifted my heart on many occasions and is a joy to wake up to in the morning. While at times he can be a bit mischievous and I get exasperated with him he then does something that melts my anger. He is the best dog we have ever had and we have had some very good companions over the years. How can you not look at this face and smile? I dare you!


From Susan;

Our first family dog, was the result of much begging. We went to a 'shelter' in the country. My brothers liked the cute black and white that was scared of her own shadow. My dad, ever the RAF officer, had words with a large noisy German shepherd, but I wanted the sandy dog, chained to a pile of sand. I won. All the way home we got lectured about walking, and bathing, brushing, finishing with, "he's not coming in the house till he's had a bath"

So in the pool outside, we bathed him. He came out sparkly white, with 3 tan patches. The most beautiful border collie, he lived till he was 17 πŸ™‚


From Autumn (vet tech here at Jarrettsville Vet, mom to Hamilton);


Two of my sweet boys- peach will always always hold the biggest spot in my heart. He has not had an easy road what so ever and we have learned that nothing is perfect and to make each day a memory. 🧑

little ham has forever changed my world and I am so grateful that the individual brought him into work and that Cindy came and got me right away! I won’t ever forget Dr. mags face when I held up my floppy little fish.. she looked at me like I was absolutely crazy, but knew that she’d be right there with me learning the world of ham.

Both of these orange babies have taught me patience and to just know that everything will be okay. And for that I’m forever grateful to be in the veterinary field helping dogs & cats everyday ❤️

From Suerena;


My father was an avid animal lover and made sure we grew up with them in our lives. Our cats and dogs were family members, not pets. As an adult, I’ve been fortunate enough to continue that with my children. Animals teach us kindness, forgiveness and unconditional love. That look of love in their eyes when they hone in on you is unmatched. We raised, loved and eventually had to let go of too many babies but somehow our hearts remained open to do it all over again. This is our Odie. He was special. He saw your heart, knew what you needed and when you needed it. He was truly one of our children. We were honored to love him and be loved by him for almost 17 years. My heart still hurts and it’s been a little over a year since we lost him. We’ve opened our hearts once again and adopted and I know she won’t be our last. Because our lives are not complete without the barks, meows, purrs and licks that these precious babies give us. 

Thank you for loving our pets as much as we do. You’re a very special woman with equally special people that you surround yourself with Jarrettsville Vet. You’re welcome to share if you like.


 From Linda;


This is my baby Paulie (Paul) we adopted him from a local animal shelter this past January when he was roughly 6months old. He was an early birthday gift. Only the best gift ever!!!! He is sweet, loving, very affectionate, funny & just fills our hearts & our home with Joy. He really keeps us laughing with his crazy antics. We had 3 boy brother cats that we raised from babies. & after our George died , our home was very empty & just void- missing that special spark & love that only having a furrbaby can give. He has helped heal our hearts. I became very ill last summer & spend a lot time in bed/@ home. He stays by my side on those though days & makes me laugh & makes the hard days have some joy.

So to me, having a pet is having unconditional love & joy.


From Dolly;

My little Missy means the world to.. Adopted her 7 years ago and never a day goes by I don't thank the Lord I found her. There are so many precious little fur babies out there just waiting for a loving forever home. Please consider adoption....You will never be sorry.


From Sue;


I have always had pets. As a child, I had ducks, gerbils, rabbits, cats, dogs, guinea pigs and I even hatched a killdeer (bird) that was abandoned in a nest. We also had a dog that we got from the Humane Society. He was not socialized and crazy as all get out. I remember the first day we had him. He stole the dinner off the dinner table. As an adult I always had dogs and cats. I really didn’t intentionally get them. They found me. Of course I loved them all. As I got older dogs became harder because of my illness so once my last dog died, I only had cats. Those always found me too and they were wonderful. I don’t know if I’ve ever gone very long without having a pet. My last pet, Tigger help me through a very difficult time in my life. He was the sweetest, most caring, I don’t want to say human because sometimes humans are not nice, but he just had this quality about him that we just seem to communicate in a different way. He understood when I did not feel well and stayed with me the entire time. When others did not understand my illness, he did. I still miss him. It’s been nine years and as I write this, I am tearing up. I did not want to get another pet after he died of kidney disease. He really had a hard time. We had to give him fluids and he hated it. He didn’t feel well, and he didn’t like what we were doing, but he always cooperated. Not too long after he died my daughter rescued two semi feral young cats and they needed a home. I was not ready but they needed someone and so as it had gone many times before I took them in. They are very sweet and I love both of them and I wouldn’t have it any other way❤️


From Rebecca;


This is the middle of my 3 pups, Hunter. He's been with me through a really tough few years( extended family estrangement, mom died, etc). He helped me through every day with his joy and his unconditional love. He's struggling through some serious health issues now but still has moments of joy. I've got you, my sweetest boyπŸ’œ


From Jennifer (Jarrettsville Vets business administrator);

Johnny Cash ❤️ Because of him I learned puppies do die in shelters right here in our own backyard. I found my way back to Rescue, and found my voice for these animals who do not have a voice. Because of him my family has fostered over 100 dogs and  puppies, and countless cats over the past 10 years. And because of him I met all of you at JVC. He is my daughter’s best friend, our constant protector, and a dog who’s paws will never be able to be filled. There have been countless times when I want to throw the towel in on this Rescue thing, but I look into his eyes and remember there are many other dogs, just like Johnny Cash, who are waiting in the shelter for a family to call their own too.

I’m quite sure that is why Zorro found his way back to me; so that when Cash is gone I will look into his eyes and find my purpose there too. 🐾


From Otto;
My 2 cats 😺 Squeak & 😸 Missy r “my whole world” !!!! If someone asks if I have children, I say, “I have 2 daughters” - lol. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜†
I love ❤️ these 2 to the moon & back - (even more than people or my family - true !). I say pets r “the best thing” that God πŸ™πŸ» created !!!. They luv u “just as u are” ….. πŸ₯°


From Jayne;


They say our pets are an extension of ourselves, and I believe there is a lot of truth to that. And through that bond, they take us on many adventures, provide us with endless joy, help us create connections with others, and give us a sense of purpose.

My journey started at age 53 when I got my first dog. All my life I’ve had multiple cats and wanted to experience being a dog parent. I still have 3 cats, but have expanded the household to include 3 dogs. I honestly cannot recall my life before dogs, and will never go without ever again. How could I have lived so long without having a dog?

My first was a Weimaraner puppy (Chloe Marie who is 2 1/2). I resorted to a breeder after trying to get a dog, any dog from local rescues for almost a year. After the 4th “we don’t feel you are a good fit,” I did what I said I would never do and lined the pocket of a breeder. Chloe brought me so much joy that it broke my heart how sad she was every day when I went to work. A friend of mine told me about an adoption event at Petsmart, and although I was looking for a smaller lap dog, for some reason I just knew I needed to adopt this Great Pyrenees who is the best dog and we call Marty.

6 months later, being so in love with both of my dogs, I decided I needed to volunteer for this rescue that easily let me adopt my baby girls best friend and brother. Needed to pay it forward so to speak. First I found myself unloading stinky dogs at 5 am., then a few hours later cleaning out poopy crates, telling people about the dogs, and facilitating meet and greets. When you make that human/dog connection and see how happy the people and dogs are when they are United you fall down a rabbit hole of dog rescue, and there is no coming back.

Which brings me to dog number 3, Buddy. Buddy was my 5th foster, and he was an epic fail. He was a 5 year old Wolfhound/Pyrenees mix that had been a working LGD, had been taken into protective custody with 52 other dogs and was still recovering from being attacked by a pack of Coyotes. There was no way I was going to let that dog take another 18 hour trip back to Texas. It took me a while to get him out of the car and into the house. And probably a good 3 months to see him come into his own. But I knew however long he had left on this Earth, he was going to be with me. The entire dynamic in the house changed. He had a calming affect on my Weim, and my Pyrenees had someone to patrol the perimeter of the backyard with. I would take him to the dog park with the Weim, and on the rare occasion when he had a Zoomie all the regulars in the park would cheer. He doesn’t have Livestock to guard anymore, but there are chickens on the other side of the fence. He always goes to that part of the yard and simply sits there guarding the chickens he has never seen. But he is safe now. Retired, and is very nurturing when I bring fosters into the house. We all have a purpose and a role in our little pack here. These 3 guys have connected me to more people and provided me with more joy than words can possibly express. Here is a picture of Buddy, my rescue puzzle who I am still piecing together 9 months later. Little by little we find the pieces, together, each and every day.


From Donna;


These are my babies, Jackson sitting up and Sugar Plum lying sternal. I adopted Sugar Plum in October of 2014 by direction of my Mom who was recovering from heart surgery. Mom could tell I was missing my fur baby Jessie who I lost in June. Mom passed away December 29th, but she fell in love with Sugar Plum. In July of 2015, Jackson adopted me unexpectedly and we all fell in love. Since January of 2019, I've been dealing with severe injuries sustained at work and without these two beautiful souls, I think I would be insane. There is a reason DOG is GOD spelled backwards. The unconditional love is beyond words but my heart is so full. Thanks for listening and thanks for all that you do for your pets, patients, and clients. ❤


From Susie;


This is my 9yo Springer Spaniel Poe. I love him so much and he is my little shadow all day long. He follows me wherever I go around the house and yard. I talk to him constantly. He is very well-trained and always eager to please. A true pleasure to be around. We enjoy our daily long walks to the creek where he loves to swim. I hope he lives forever. I can’t imagine my life without Poe.


From Donna;


You can often judge how a man will treat you by how he treats animals. When my husband and I first met he had Sady, a black lab/German shepherd mix (100 pounds of dog). She was the smartest, most well behaved dog I had ever met and she was the love of his life. And he was hers. She went almost everywhere with him. I had Duo Maxwell, a pure bred papillon who was dumb as a box of rocks but I loved him. My husband swore he was not a cat person but in 2009 we found Chessie in the woods behind his parents house. Chessie was about 3 weeks old and had been bitten by a snake on his paw. We originally took him in just so we could get him to a vet and then find him a home. Now the old man is 14 and even with some health issues still going strong. We lost Sady the same year we got Chessie and he helped heal my husband's broken heart. We lost Duo in 2018 and I don't know who mourned more, my husband or Chessie. Fast forward to March 2020, I had seen a skinny black cat wandering the field next to our house. When I mentioned it to my husband he said "don't feed it, we don't need another cat". He went out one Sunday evening to get firewood and there it sat on our front porch. Within minutes my husband had a bowl of water, a bowl of food, and a box with a blanket in it for the cat outside. By the next weekend he had built a platform for the box to sit on so that it wasn't on the cold cement. By the following fall Tuxedo had a house with a ramp, shingled roof, insulation board, and a heat lamp. He also gets a fan in the summer. He lives better than some people! Tuxedo prefers to live outside but he is a total lovebug. My boys (as I refer to Chessie and Tuxedo) are our life. They depend on us and we vow to take care of them until their final breath. Sure, sometimes life would be simpler (and cheaper) without pets but their unconditional love and companionship makes it all worth while. I just wish they could live forever.

JVC, thank you for what you do for all of the animals that come through your door. I am a huge fan of Hami!!πŸ˜„ 


From Sherry;


My kiddos have brought me so much joy, laughter, and love. I learned about rescue through the adoption of my first poodle Bentley, and I've been volunteering for over 20 years now. All of my pets have been rescues. They are the greatest loves of my life, and I will forever be an advocate and voice for animals. This my Roo. Today is his 6th birthday!

I grew up with rabbits, cats, three dogs, snakes, a cockatiel. I read James Herriot’s books until I’d nearly memorized them. I was one of those young horse girls who swore she was going to grow up and be a vet. Vet turned to pre-med, pre-med led me to Latin, Latin led me to Archaeology and archaeology took me all over the world. My life of transatlantic moves, six weeks in Italy, six weeks in Scotland, hoping from project to project in England, the Netherlands, Turkey. I was certain there was no space for pets in that life. But every time I saw a dog on a walk in the hill where I happened to be digging, I’d stop and chat and eventually befriend dog and owner for some sad surrogate dog experience-anything I could get! But life changed. I came back to MD, accompanied by a British husband whose most notable family pet was a gerbil they lost after two weeks. He was overwhelmed by my family’s multi-large-dog household. After a year of living here, and the growing certainty that we would not be moving off-continent, it was my husband who started lobbying for a dog. Mourning my past life of clichΓ© archaeological jetsetting, I thought a dog would ‘tie us down’ and resisted.

We got NausicaΓ€ ‘Nausi’ (far left) (I chose this for my future dog during my very first Greek class, she’s named after a character in Homer’s Iliad), my perfect heart dog. She is compassion and quiet joy in 51 lbs of cream golden and I was wholly unprepared for just how deeply I would love her and how much she would prove how open I could be to loving and caring for another living thing. Friends joke that I love Naus more than my husband, they aren’t wrong. She came to me at a time when I wasn’t being honest with myself about how broken I was by the loss of my ‘past life’ across the ocean. She gave me something to focus on beyond ruminating in the past, living a half life disappointed that I wasn’t always somewhere else.


From George;

I was the owner of Georgie ( yellow lab) he had diabetes and wasn’t expected to live very long. He had been getting his shots by me only and on time. Anyway he lived 6 more years before he passed away at Belair animal hospital. He waited for me to get there and be with him when he took his final breath. Broke my heart. My late wife decided to get another dog ( pit bull terrier) Posey to help me get over my broken heart. 4 months later my wife died and Posey was her dog ( 4 months old when we got her. Animal rescue for $500. That dog never left my wife’s side and slept in her lap . Today Posey is going to be 2 yrs old and loves everyone. Loves kissing people. She plays with the cats outdoors and has her own cat inside the house. They play and chase each other. I’m working on trying to get Posey to be like Georgie was . Go for morning rides in my truck but she won’t be still even harnessed to the seat. She’s a good young dog and loves her walks around the property. And is always sniffing around everything. She tired herself out and comes over to take naps laying on my lap. At night I kiss here good night and she sleeps all night. Until I get up then she waits for me to kiss her good morning and tell her I love her. I’m going to be 75 years old ( 5 days ) after Posey’s birthday.


Why did I ask for all of these? Because I think it is imperative that we all remember our Why. Why we always see our work as being the most sacred of responsibilities. Why when we have those little choices in a tiny room, where life is hanging in the balance, that you can make a decision to be more. More than you have to be, more than the rest of the world expects you to be, and yes, just enough to be a hero,, to that pet and that person who adores them as their whole world.

My inspiration. This little girl loves her kitten, who she named Baby Ketchup, just as much as I always have, and always will.

When my days are long, hard, heart-breaking, and grueling I remember why I am here, and how important what I do is. 

There is more to come. More on why we have to be more to all of those we ate sworn to serve. More on how we can advocate for our pets even when it seems that the profession holds all of the cards. Why transparency is lacking. Why we have abandoned our ability to fight for a patient. Why it is easier and still profitable to euthanize instead of provide the needed care. And why we can convince ourselves that we should treat everything, offer a plan that costs more than it should, and seek compensation regardless of the degree of futility we almost always know it provides. 

Vetmed comes from a place of humble beginnings. We are now a place being consumed by venture capitalists with no rules, no boundaries and a whole heart of emotional influence that will bankrupt a pet parent if able.