Feelings of Gratitude

Provided below is my annual holiday “pancreatitis warning” for those inclined to share their feasting with their favorite fido. First, to spice things up a bit, and in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, I want you to tell me about one of your pets. More specifically I invite you to explain (in the comment section below) how a certain special animal in your life has enabled you to experience gratitude. Share  your story and you just might the lucky winner of a lovely Printcopia 11” x 14” canvas print. You will be able to submit your favorite pet photo and it will be magically transformed into a fabulous canvas wall hanging. I look forward to reading your special story.

Avoiding Pancreatitis During the Holidays

‘Tis the season for family gatherings, gift giving, and food galore.  Veterinarians know that this is also the season for canine pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), a painful, potentially life-threatening condition most commonly caused by overindulgence in foods that are particularly rich or fatty. And what kitchen isn’t overflowing with such foods this time of year?

The pancreas is a thin, delicate-appearing, boomerang-shaped organ that resides in the abdominal cavity, tucked up against the stomach and small intestine. While the pancreas may be diminutive in appearance, its actions are mighty! It is the body’s source of insulin and enzymes necessary for food digestion. When pancreatitis is chronic or particularly severe, this little factory sometimes permanently closes down, resulting in diabetes mellitus (requires insulin shots) and/or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (requires digestive enzyme replacement therapy).

When a dog eats, enzymes are released from the pancreas into the small intestine, where they are activated for food digestion. Sometimes, for reasons we do not understand, these enzymes are activated within the pancreas itself, resulting in the inflammation of pancreatitis. In addition to rich or fatty foods, certain drugs, hormonal imbalances and inherited defects in fat metabolism can also cause pancreatitis. For some dogs, an underlying cause is never found. Classic pancreatitis symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, and decreased appetite and activity levels.

Short of performing a pancreatic biopsy (an invasive and risky procedure), diagnosing pancreatitis can be challenging, because noninvasive tests are fraught with false-negative and false-positive results. Veterinarians must rely on a combination of the following:

  • A history of dietary indiscretion, vomiting and lethargy.
  • Physical examination findings (particularly abdominal pain).
  • Characteristic complete blood cell count (CBC) and blood chemistry abnormalities.
  • A positive or elevated Spec cPL (canine pancreas-specific lipase) blood test.
  • Characteristic abdominal ultrasound abnormalities.

There is no cure for pancreatitis—much like a bruise, the inflammation must resolve on its own. This is best accomplished by allowing the pancreas to rest, which means giving nothing orally (not even water) to prevent digestive enzyme secretion. Treatment consists of hospitalization for the administration of intravenous fluids; injectable medication to control vomiting, pain and stomach acid secretion; and antibiotics to prevent secondary infection or abscess formation. Dogs should be monitored around the clock for the life-threatening complications that sometimes accompany pancreatitis, such as kidney failure, heart rhythm abnormalities, respiratory distress and bleeding disorders. Small amounts of water and a fat-free diet are typically offered once vomiting has stopped, abdominal pain has subsided, and there is blood test and/or ultrasound confirmation that the inflammation has calmed down. If your dog has pancreatitis, count on a minimum of two to three days of hospitalization, and be sure to ask who will be caring for your dog during the night.

Long-term treatment for pancreatitis typically involves feeding a low-fat or fat-free diet. This may be a life-long recommendation, especially if your dog has been a “repeat offender.”  Most dogs fully recover with appropriate therapy; however, some succumb to the complications associated with this disease.

How can you prevent pancreatitis during this food-oriented time of year? You can avoid feeding holiday leftovers altogether (this would cause canine mutiny in my household) or you can heed the following recommendations.

New foods should be fed sparingly and only if well tolerated by your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and waistline.  Keep in mind that whether offered a teaspoon or a tablespoon of something delicious, most dogs will gulp it down in the same amount of time and reap the same psychological benefit.

Don’t offer tidbits from the table while you are eating. This is a set up for bad behavior. Offer the treat only after you’ve left the table. If you shouldn’t be eating the food yourself (emphasis on shouldn’t), please don’t feed it to your dog! By all means, give your precious poopsie a bit of turkey breast, but without the turkey skin or fat-laden mashed potatoes and creamy gravy. Go ahead and offer your sweet snookums a bite of brisket, but please —no potato latkes or sour cream! Bear in mind that most dogs are so darned excited about getting a treat, they don’t care what it is, only that they’re getting it!

Some people dream of sugar plum fairies, a white Christmas or a stress-free family gathering. I’m dreaming of a holiday season in which not a single dog develops pancreatitis!

Wishing you and your four-legged family members a joyful and healthy holiday season.

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

 

 

 

 

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18 Responses to “Feelings of Gratitude”

  1. LauraGr says:

    I am grateful for my dog Crookie. About a year and a half ago, I suddenly lost my best friend, Standard dachshund, Milo. He had hemangiosarcoma and I went from having an apparently healthy 10 year old dog to having to put him down while he was bleeding out internally in the space of less than 3 hours. The very next day, my mom brought me a puppy. An adorable longhair piebald dachshund puppy. I swore I wasn’t ready, but Crookie was a welcome distraction from my pain. Crookie had some health problems, we discovered. He was the sweetest pup and had so many issues. I appreciated each and every day with my Crookie. He made me smile every day of his life. He was a happy little clown. His face looked like it was smiling all the time. He died at 16 months of age. Too soon. He had a liver shunt and 2 days after shunt repair surgery went into seizures. We were unable to save him despite 5 days of intensive care. I know the sudden loss of Milo made me appreciate Crookie on a daily basis. Losing Crookie was unbearably hard. I was utterly devastated. I know I did all I could do and there is some peace to be had in that knowledge. My gratitude for Crookie is that thru loss, I appreciated every moment, even the impossibly hard ones.

  2. Jane Eagle says:

    Dr. Kay, this is terrific. I have loved reading all these stories! Most have brought me to tears…but tears of gratitude for these angels in our lives. I always tell people that the first year I had a husky, I spent lots of time trying to brush most of the hair off my clothes. After a year, I just gave up. And then, after a while, I didn’t feel fully dressed unless I am wearing a fair amount of dog hair. And now: when I see someone with no dog hair on their clothes, I just feel sorry for them :-)

  3. Jane Eagle says:

    PS: That’s one of the greatest gifts the dogs give me: I actually forget that I am disabled! I am too busy to dwell there :-)

  4. Jane Eagle says:

    I forgot to mention that I am disabled. I have a back injury that brings me constant pain and fatigue. After my accident, I saw a quote that said essentially that in order to survive, one had to focus on what was still possible to do. That was one of the things that led me to rescuing. I can’t do large amounts of driving, but I can foster dogs and care for them in my home. Since I am home a great deal of the time, it is a good place for traumatized dogs to come and heal. My own dogs, all traumatized rescues, work hard in their wonderful doggy way to help newcomers learn that all people are not abusive, that other dogs will accept them and play, not fight. I am always blown away by the grace with which my “pack” allows new strange dogs to share their territory and their home. What an amazing lesson!
    If I sat around and spent my time thinking of what I have lost, I’d have done myself in many years ago. Dogs have saved my life in so many ways that I am so grateful for. They give me so much more than I could ever give to them. We save each other daily.

  5. Jane Eagle says:

    It’s so hard to pick one dog: each one brings different blessings to me every day, even those who have passed on. Together, they have all made me who I am, and I am grateful beyond words. But to choose the one who fills me with the most gratitude currently, it would have to be True Blue.
    I volunteer with a Northern Breed dog rescue. One day, at an adoption fair, I saw a large scraggly looking dog in one of the crates. He was standing and wagging his tail, but his eyes were closed. I asked who he was, and was told that his name is True Blue; he was confiscated from owners who had kept him in a crate; in a garage; IN THE DARK;for 10 years! So: that’s why he could hardly open his eyes: he was not used to light. His size, wiry coat and long legs gave me the impression he was possibly a Scottish deerhound mix. He needed a foster home, so I immediately claimed him. My vet determined that his multitude of bald patches were due to a low thyroid, as well as having the fur literally worn off by contact with his crate. So, we began with the obvious: medication, good food and plenty of it, lots of love. He bonds FAST! He LOVES plush toys; and carries them around, like a puppy.
    Most dogs would be insane after such abuse, but True’s attitude was that it was all in the past, and he was now well rested and ready to play! I would look at him and see this big puppy in an old dog’s body, and it broke my heart; but not his. He wasted scant minutes reflecting how different his life could have been. That is when I realized that True Blue is my Zen Master, teaching me to live in the moment, not look back, create joy in each present moment.
    He did not know how to live in a house: it was like training a large friendly puppy, from scratch. He was housebroken, but not familiar with house manners, like don’t eat the pillows on the couch. He learns fast.
    He loved going for walks, but got scared when our trail opened onto fields: he was unused to big open spaces. He had agoraphobia: he did not like to be outdoors, and would rush to get back inside as much as possible. He still finds little corners to sleep in. He didn’t freak out when outdoors; but I had to wrestle him to get him out – at all! He kept trying to climb into my lap, and really exhibited puppy behaviors: play bows, wanting to fetch, jumping around, getting really excited: beyond cute!! He was really just a great big 10 year old puppy/lovebug !
    Everything was new to him, and it was a joy to watch him meet all this newness and change with openness and then enthusiasm. He found a tennis ball, and begged me to throw it for him; so I took him to the dog park, where he could run and chase. Oh my: the happiness of being able to run free for the first time in his life! After a while, I threw a ball for him, and he ran and got it; then looked around at the other 60 balls on the ground, and almost floated away in bliss. He wanted them all! After picking up and discarding several, each one more exciting than the last, he picked one and brought it back. True Blue is a ball-chasin’ fool: he will chase balls for hours, non-stop. Everyone at the dog park thinks he is a puppy!
    And then: one day I took the whole pack to the ocean, to run on the beach. You would sit down and cry for joy to see the happiness of a dog who was crated in the dark for 10 years, running free with no fences, with his pack of friends; chasing seagulls, and just running back and forth for the joy of running and being alive in such a glorious place.
    Watching him unfold and become himself is a wonder every day. After some months, a new behavior: he sang for joy during our morning love fest! Singing for joy…I wish we could all be that grateful. He’s a spiritual warrior.

    After a few months, True was ready to find his forever home, so we went back to an adoption fair. As we approached, people who had rescued him, were petting him and asking “Who do we have here?” It was then that I realized how much even his appearance had changed! True Blue had gained about 30 pounds and now had a long, silky coat: clearly NOT any deerhound, but a malamute mix. He has the cutest ears ever, in the history of the world! and I believe the other part of this magic mix is golden retriever. (Throw the ball, mom, throw the ball!)
    True Blue loves everyone and everydog he meets. He is truly a GREAT dog, and I am honored to share his life. That’s the best thing (of many) about fostering dogs: I get to meet such amazing souls, and they all teach me about healing, forgiveness, and accepting change with grace. I am grateful every day to the folks who saved him, and gave me the chance to meet him. And True Blue is ALWAYS happy! He is extremely playful, and wrestles and plays constantly with the other dogs I foster. Because of this, I would only allow him to go to a home with another large playful dog who likes to play rough. His life was empty for 10 years while he waited for this, and it is his joy; so I would not let him live without it! Other dogs who visit frequently are not the same; he does not play the same way with them, or the dogs he sees all the time at the park.

    As we searched for his true home, I realized that every time I got an inquiry, I would cringe at the thought of giving him up. Adopting a dog is not a thing to be done lightly, and I already had a few dogs. Could I afford potential medical costs if he got ill as he aged? There could be only one answer: we would find a way to meet future challenges somehow. I don’t know if I will get 10 years, 2 years, or 2 weeks with him. Whatever time I get is a priceless gift.
    My cat tolerant Zen Master, True Blue, had arrived home. When I made the decision and told him he was staying forever, he climbed into my lap and gave me a big hug.
    Home is where the dogs are.

    I was talking to a friend the other day, and she pointed out that when True growls, which is one of his play behaviors, it doesn’t sound like a growl; it sounds like the deep rumbling vibration that elephants make…or closer still, he sounds like a Tibetan throat singer! So now, True is my little throat singer dog :-)
    Every day, he shows me something new, or a new way to see things. He constantly reminds me that the present moment is all we ever have. He asks for affection often, and I am left asking a hundred times every day:”what did I do to deserve a friend like this?” He fills my heart to bursting, so there is more room for love.
    Experience has lead me to believe that every dog is a message of love from the Creator. I see that love shining in the eyes of most dogs I meet; and although this story doesn’t have the words “thanks” “thankful” grateful” very often, because of True and the other Teacher dogs that have come to me, every breath I take is taken in gratitude and grace. Every step I take is a step of thanksgiving. I am grateful, again beyond words, that True and the others have taught me the joy of service to others. And now I have to go cook a turkey for the dogs and take them to the beach for a romp of gratitude.
    And, hey, thanks for reading!
    Pictures here:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=290745244316883&set=a.290745184316889.70644.157936174264458&type=1&theater#!/media/set/?set=a.290745184316889.70644.157936174264458&type=1

  6. Margherite says:

    2007 was a pretty bad year for me. Lonliness and disability were sinking me lower and lower. Laughter was a thing of the past, and my bed was my constant companion. One day, I answered a knock on my back door and my daughter’s friend, Eugenia, came in followed by a little Golden in very sad shape. Love at first site is not just an expression. It was real and immediate.

    Eugenia had been working at a veterinary clinic in Queens, New York. The owner of a pet store had brought this three month old Golden in with a broken leg which he said had been broken “in her cage.” Not willing to pay for surgery, the store owner opted for a splint. He said he would care for her. A few months later, he brought her back to the clinic with an infection in her side that was down to the bone. They had to throw the gauze away outside of the building because it smelled so hideous. Of course, they kept her and took excellent care of her wound (by that time her leg had healed in a slightly crooked way, but needed no surgery).

    At that time, Eugenia brought the Golden to her house for a weekend. She and my daughter, Jessica, got together and conspired to bring the Golden to meet me. For a few years prior to this, I had been saying that I would love to have a Golden Retriever some day. Well, I adopted this wonderful, beautiful, loving dog who I named Zoe. She has changed my life in many ways, all for the better. She seems almost human in her perception of me and in her incredible intelligence.

  7. Bea says:

    What a wonderful opportunity to express how I feel about my dog, Lance/Lansky, but first I must say that every dog that’s come into my life has been so special with wonderful memories that never fade. Their distinct personalities and that bond which we share has become my one addiction, since I know, to me, I must have a dog.

    When my last Golden Retriever, Bugsy, passed away at 12-1/2 of cancer, my husband said, “that’s it, no more dogs, it’s too difficult to keep saying goodbye,” so for 8 months, no dog. I became more immersed with my volunteering at the animal shelter, tried getting a job with one of the animal hospitals, no hiring, etc. I mean, I have a great life, but the emptiness of not having a dog was there; I’m very active and keep busy enjoying doing things I love, but was lost without a dog. Bugsy was a gem and a hard-act to follow. My husband started saying, “go get a dog, I see you really need one,” but I wanted to keep our compromises (Oy, yoi, yoi….) I always wait for my dogs to send me a dog, and I waited…., Bugsy sent me Lance, now the love of my life. Once a dog enters my home, I’m committed to taking care of them. I spoil my dogs with love, good health, fun activities, and creating a strong bond of friendship and trust. And so, Lance’s story goes….(I’ll keep it short, cause I think you know some of the story….

    Two-and-a-half years ago, Lance was found wandering on a West Virginia highway. One of my neighbors called to say their son’s friend has a dog that needs a home – (that call was on my mother’s 89th birthday). I called the family to say I’ll be there tomorrow and I’m going to take this dog home.

    They had Lance (his name was Teddy) for 5 weeks and didn’t have time, said he was crazy, left in the yard alone all day, he would dig out. Friends
    theirs found Lance, but couldn’t keep him (named him Highway) already 2 homes we know of. I took him home, changed his name, and gave him love, good health (he had sores and dry skin) and good direction. In return, he would bolt after rabbits or anything that moves (during our walks); I’ve landed on many lawns, ran up hills after him; cause his high-prey drive and adventurous nature called out to him.

    So, he introduced me to agility, which he needed, walks on the beach where he would accelerate after seagulls and thought he’d swim to California. Now, he walks like a gentleman, is content in the house and just a great dog. But, he’s taught me to be alert to my surroundings, i.e., rabbits, birds, anything that moves. He walks at a perfect heel, and could be a detection or search and rescue dog; he’s been a challenge, he’s every dog that wounds up in animal shelters, but he’s a love, and loves to carry his stuffed animals around, nurturing them, but not destroying them.

    Last summer on our morning walk home, I was attacked by aggressive birds protecting their nests; they literally banged into my head and neck and I fell to the ground and passed out for I guess a short time, when I came to,
    blood was gushing from my mouth; my tooth cracked in half, I was a mess, and all of a sudden, I’m like, where’s Lance, the leash was out of my hand, only to realize he stayed right next to me keeping the birds away; he layed his feet on me and looked in my eyes to say, “I’m not going anywhere, I’m with you, let’s go home,” he was amazing. When I got home I iced my face (my husband couldn’t believe it) and arms, and called my dentist who took care of me that day. When I got home, Lance would not leave me alone, just kept by my side. He’s truly a wonderful canine companion, so easy, friendly, and intelligent to the point where a friend of mine brings her grandson to visit Lance; the boy is now 7 years old, but has a very bad coordination problem amongst other medical issues. Lance has given him confidence with his gentle nature and funny personality.

    I named Lance, but my husband calls him Lansky, after the great, Meyer Lansky.

    Take care and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  8. Tim McHenry says:

    The question of “who rescued whom?” is often raised when sharing stories of adopted dogs. It certainly speaks to my life with an extraordinary dog named Dixie.

    In October of 2005, Dixie was hit by a car. Her previous owners left her tethered in the yard for three days following the accident before relinqueshing ownership at a local shelter. The shelter director managed to secure the services of a veterinarian who amputated Dixie’s left front leg for a marginal fee. The compassion of the shelter director and the generosity of the vet saved Dixie’s life. I was the lucky soul that was chosen to give Dixie a forever home. And let’s be clear. Dixie did the choosing.

    It took time but Dixie learned that dogs are really three legged animals with a spare. At 8 years of age, she is still my jogging partner, has hiked with me in more places than I can count, and has earned three novice titles in agility competing with “normal” dogs half her age.

    I have had my share of hardships as well. Dixie’s inspiring presence in my life gave me strength when I needed it most. Three years ago, I began writing a book the chronicled our shared journey of healing. The path eventually led to redemption for us both. The is appropriately titled “A Leg To Stand On” and was released just a week ago through iUniverse Publishing.

    Thankful doesn’t begin to express the joy that she has brought to my life. The only downside to sharing your life with a dog is that they don’t live long enough. My hope is to keep her memory alive through the pages of my book. In that way, I can thank her each day until we meet again on the other side.

  9. Jane Daniel says:

    My dog’s name is Cooper and he is a Brittish Lab who is a trained Medical Alert dog. Cooper saves my life daily. He can tell me if my blood sugar is too high or too low, something I can no longer do, and he does it by smell. He also tells me 30 minutes before my machine can tell me. I think that is amazing. I am so grateful for Cooper; he is an amazing dog and has really changed my life by making it soooo much better. Before Cooper, I stayed home for 2 years unless my husband could go with me. Cooper has given me back my life and I am so grateful to him for what he does for me. I owe him so much and he only asks to be given treats for alerting me. I wish I had the words to tell you how much this dog means to me; I can no longer imagine life without him.

  10. Dianne says:

    Up until last July, we shared our home with three senior dogs. We lost the oldest, a Pit Bull mix, at the approximate age of nineteen. The remaining dogs, another Pit Bull mix and a Heeler mix, are ages sixteen and seventeen. I know that one of these days, the inevitable will happen, and my remaining companions will pass on. As painful as that thought is, I am oh-so-grateful for the opportunity to have had these animals in my life for such a long time. So many animals don’t live long enough to BE old. I have said that “I love and I hate that my dogs are so old.” That sentiment sums up my feelings. While dreading the inevitable, I appreciate how fortunate I am to have shared my life with them for such a long time. All three of my companions have made me grateful for the opportunity of old age, both for myself and my furry companions. My dogs may be geriatric, but they are still excellent teachers.

  11. Diana Kerew-Shaw says:

    In April of 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had just agreed to purchase a new Papillon puppy from a litter that was due that week. Several of my friends urged me to cancel the deal; I was going to have so much to cope with in the coming year, and had I forgotten how much work came with a puppy, especially a tiny one? I already had a wonderful Papillon: Rennie, a certified therapy dog with many obedience titles, would keep me company. But I became obsessed with acquiring this new companion. Looking back, I can see why: the puppy was my contract with the future. Papillons live for 12-15 years. By bringing this baby into my home, I was declaring that I would live long enough to care for him. So, in June, as I was starting into the hell of my second round of chemo, little Cutter came to live with me, my husband and Rennie. 24 hours after we picked him up, I landed in the hospital and my poor husband was left to take care of Rennie, deal with a crazed little live wire puppy and run back and forth to the hospital to care for me. Somehow we got through all that and I returned home, although I spent almost all of my time either on the sofa or in bed. And here’s where the magical part comes in. I would arrange myself on the couch, and Rennie, perfect therapy dog that she is, would wedge herself against my hip. Then little Cutter, all 4 ½ pounds of him, would demand to be lifted up. This little energizer bunny would curl up on my legs, snuggle into position and stay there, rock still for 2 – 3 hours at a time. He only left his post for potty breaks. I could pet him, give him tummy rubs and kisses, and he would just be there for me. How did this tiny, 10-week-old creature, whose whole life up to that time had been filled with activity and play, teach himself to do this? It was the greatest gift a dog could give.

    Today I am cancer free, and have returned to dog training and showing. Cutter is learning obedience and has points toward his conformation championship, and Rennie is competing in Utility. I am cancer free. And I look forward to fulfilling that unconscious promise I made to Cutter; that I will be there to care for him, just as he took care of me.

    Diana Kerew-Shaw,
    “It’s a Dog, Not a Toaster”

  12. Miriam Yarden, B.Sc.,MS,APDT says:

    After a total hysterectomy procedure in 1983 I came home from the hospital and was instructed to stay in bed for 8 weeks. No way! Eight weeks was eight years tro me…..I was wondering how could I cut down on this time recommended by the doctor.

    Enter Mr. Smidgeon, an eight pound Italian Greyhound/Schnauzer-mix whom I found one day in the street half dead. He became my appendage and never left my side. When I was lying down after the surgery to rest and I would quietly moan and hiss with pain, Mr. Smidgeon would hop up on the bed, curl up in my lap where the incision was and started emitting heat. His little body was a soft comfort, a heating pad that never got too hot, and never cooled off.

    The minute he felt that the muscles at the incision relaxed and my breating became easy without any stress, he would gently kiss my face and leave the bed.

    I’ll never know how he knew where the incision was, how much heat I needed, why it was time ro stop his “treatment” or why to kiss my face before he left. As the area healed and the pain and discomfort diminished, he came less often, but never missed an episode.

    According to the surgeon, Mr. Smidgeon’s contribution to the post-op situation was invaluable. It muct have been because I was up and about in TWO weeks, instead of eight.

    My grattitude knew no bounds and my love for Mr. Smidgeon was overwhelming. The little 8-pound bundle knew exactly what to do, how to do it and for how long.

    I miss my little Mister and thank him for his dedicated and wise nursing.

  13. Linda S Graham says:

    I have had many special dogs and they have all taught me more about patience, love, and gratitude. However, the one dog that I am thinking of this moment is Buddy, the boxer. I acquired him when his owners, my friends, were murdered. Buddy wasn’t young when I got him -around age 9. He came to be with us when I could get him out of the humane society the morning after the murders. We could each tell that the other was hurting from the senseless loss of two great people and bonded immediately. He was always by my side – ready to comfort me and for me to comfort him. About a year after he came to be my special “buddy” I had to have back surgery. When I got home from the hospital he was there to greet me with grey muzzle and wagging tail. For the next 3 months while I was on mostly bed rest he stayed by my side night and day except for eating and getting out in the back yard. I could feel his strength beside me. About a year after that he was trying to come to lie beside me again and just collapsed. I rushed him to the vet but after we ran a bunch of tests we knew it was time for him to rejoin his original owners and I held his big paw as he went to the Rainbow Bridge. He knew his job of helping me was done and he went peacefully to be with other loves.

  14. Dr. Tony Johnson says:

    Sage (and parsley) advice, Dr. Kay! And timely, too!
    We see many cases of this around the holidays, so hopefully we can get the word out together and keep a few more pets home this year!
    Here’s to an empty ER and a (human) belly full of turkey and stuffing.
    Cheers!

  15. Pat says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Here is the share of my 2 beloved poodles that have passed on in the last few months and the other 2 years ago. Both of them were Therapy dogs, and I am now training my puppy to do the same. I visited hospitals, nursing homes, schools for the disabled, and many more. I had many amazing times visiting and the joy it bought the people was wonderful and being able to share these incredible creatures brought joy to them and to me. On a particular visit with a child, the child was comatose and the mother did not speak English but requested that the dog be put on the bed. I put Clicquot (Black Standard Poodle) on the bed and her but was facing the child. The mother lifted the childs hand and put it on the rear of Clicquot and held the hand and rubbed it back and forth on Clicquots rear. After a couple of minutes the childs fingers started moving and rubbing Clicquot by himself. The most amazing sight. The nurse then told me that the child had not done any movement before. How amazing what a dog can do for someone. The best feelings I get is visiting someone and them telling me that is the fist time they smiled or Thank You you have brightened up my day. Nothing better then making someone who is sick, down or lonely brighten there day. Pat

  16. Jana Rade says:

    With Jasmine it’s actually pretty straightforward. She’s had so many health issues, living with her about equals going to vet school. She had two near-death experiences. We’ve fought and worked really hard and how she is crazier than her healthy 5-year old house mate.

    Not that she doesn’t have any issues to work with, but overall, she’s a crazy pup.

    So every day, we are thankful for every good stool, every meal she enjoys, every moment of fun she has.

  17. Rachel Charles says:

    Our precious Makayla was destined to be with us because she had so much to teach us. One day in early June 2005, I was strolling through the local humane society when I laid eyes on her. She was one scraggly looking little girl, but all I saw was how beautiful she was – inside and out. She was scared and uncomfortable but she promptly walked over and kissed my hand. Kayla easily settled into our family and bonded quickly with our other pug, Diesel. When we adopted Makayla, I promised her she’d never again go without anything, that she’s never again know pain or sadness.

    Makayla was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy in early 2010. After her diagnosis, we knew her time with us would be limited and, after getting over the initial shock of her diagnosis, we promised Kayla that we’d only do what was best for her and when she was ready to go, we’d let her go. We committed to living in the moment with Kayla while we had her – to cherish every single day we had with her. Wow!! What an amazing way to live life. Makayla was a blessing to us – she taught us to slow down and live in the moment, to be thankful for what we have (not to cry for what we don’t have), to keep going despite the obstacles life gives us. “Handicapped” was simply not in Kayla’s vocabulary. When she’d wake up and find her strength had deteriorated a little since the day before, Kayla would simply get up and go on about her day the best she could with the limitations she had that day. Kayla never once laid down and felt sorry for herself. Never once cried because she was no longer able to run around the yard like she used to. Never once cried that she could no longer walk up the steps on her own. Kayla simply held her head high while she limpted around the yard and waited patiently for me to carry her up the steps.

    When we said goodbye to Makayla on February 12, 2011, she was surrounded by love and we were comforted knowing that she was our angel who would watch over us. I’m always in awe of how much my little 20 pound dog taught me about life. I’m thankful every single day that I was blessed to have Kayla in my life to teach me these life lessons.

  18. Mia Holden says:

    A special wether goat named Tommy, has enabled me to experience immense gratitude by his endless dedication and care of my blind cow. I have a cow that lost her vision as a young calf. “Pinky” was able to get around our 20 acre pasture with the help of the other cattle. However, when the time came for the others to be relocated, I had to find a “seeing” guide companion. That’s when Tommy came along and needed a home. I stalled Tommy and Pinky together for four days and from then on they have been inseparable. Tommy instantly knew what his job was. He wears a bell around his neck so Pinky can locate him and follow him. Tommy always protects her and guides her through all weather conditions and circumstances. I could not be more grateful to Tommy for providing such a better life Pinky. Pinky in return, grooms Tommy from head to toe everyday. He actually turns his body every direction so she does not miss a spot. In my opinion, Tommy is the best “seeing eye goat” around!! For that I’m will be forever grateful!

    Mia Holden