Vet Appreciation Day!…A tribute to a special dr. who goes out of her way to treat all her clients like dogs!
By Katy Cable-The Weekly Runt
Last week, my beloved 93 year-old mother passed away. Although she went peacefully surrounded by her loved ones, the grief is overwhelming. We were very close. This huge loss sits at the tippy top of a few years filled with sadness and goodbyes.
It’s been a difficult few years for all of us. I think we have all been kicked to the curb by more loss than we can throw a stick at. For New Year’s, I made a TikTok memorial video featuring all the dogs who were near-and-dear to my heart that are no longer with us. I thought for this week’s blog I might just do a repost a blog on losing a pet and include the TikTok. Then I remembered a post I saved by a brilliant, creative, amazing friend of mine, Kristen Andrews, and I changed directions.
What happens in Vegas stays in our hearts forever.
Andrews is a rainbow haired, anime-animal-loving, pug-mom, and practicing Veterinarian in Kingman, Arizona. She was an OG social media influencer and the mom of the infamous Chubbs the Wampug. Before there was a Doug-the-Pug, Chubbs became a pug icon melting the hearts of thousands with that adorable face, quirky costumes, and crazy pug antics.
In 2017, Chubbs sadly passed, leaving hundreds of thousands of fans heartbroken. Kristen and a friend who had also lost a beloved pug around the same time, poured their hearts and souls into organizing The Las Vegas Pug Party. It was an over-the-top, weekend Pug-a-Palooza for over 200 pug-obsessed party goers. -And I was one of them! When I saw it on social media I immediately paid in full, introduced myself to Kristen, and asked how I could help.
April 2018, hundreds of impeccably dressed pugs embarked on the Las Vegas strip and had the adventure of a lifetime. Kristen introduced us to her then adorable new pug puppy, Saty (AKA Mrs. Worldwide.) Saty is a darling, feisty, turbo-charged black pug with royal bloodlines and the inheritance of thousands of captive followers.
The first Vegas Pug Party, led to 2 more. In 2019 there was a Las Vegas Pug Wedding, officiated by Elvis himself, and in 2020, the ‘80’s themed Pug Prom, just weeks before the Covid quarantine began. The trips Kristen created have been not only some of the best getaways of my life, but they have also introduced me to an entire pug family of loved ones. And Kristen is part of this close-knit group. We keep in touch daily on social media and also have frequent get-togethers. I hope you’ll check out some of my blogs and videos of these fun gatherings.
You’ve got a friend
I recently cashed in my friend card and called Kristen at home on a weekend. I had just returned from a vacation in Hawaii and while I was at work, my pug Olive managed to get into my souvenir bag. She devoured every Hawaiian delicacy from chocolate mac-nuts to shortbread cookies faster than you can say, “ALOHA!” Olive seemed perfectly fine when I returned home, but I was sure I needed to race her somewhere and have her stomach pumped. Kristen picked up my call and assured me Olive might have diarrhea like a tourist returning from a Mexican vacation, but she’d likely be A-ok! That gave me more peace than she would ever know.
Too many goodbyes.
That scare reminded me of the very worst thing about owning a dog, -saying goodbye. Recently I’ve had to walk through way too many farewells. It got me thinking about our vets. How do they do this day in and day out? Doing the work they do must be extremely difficult. First there’s the schooling. Imagine putting in all the years of college and straddling the hefty student loans of a medical doctor, and then not having the big salary pay-off at the end.
Veterinarians work grueling hours, many weekends, and much of it can be pro-Bono. Our insurance system isn’t set up the same for pets. Many life-saving and necessary treatments are either not covered or still require enormous out-of-pocket costs. And while vets can offer some “friends -and-family” discounts, they aren’t in a position to do much more to offset huge costs.
Pet parents are a whole different animal. Wewant answers. We want a guarantee. We want to know that if we pay the equivalent of a rent payment in additional vet bills each month, it will work. We need them to save our dogs. And when that can’t be done we’re devastated. But so are they. Did you know, according to Choices Psychotherapy, veterinarians are in the top 5 for careers with the highest suicide rates? Their job is a whole lot more than petting kittens and puppies all day. Yes, they’re with us for one of the happiest days, when we bring our new addition in for a first exam, but they’re often there on the hardest day too. The day when we have to let them go. And, as Kristen’s piece so eloquently shows, being a vet doesn’t make it much easier to say goodbye.
When you know better you do better
Every day I hear at least one pet parent say they disagree with their vet or feel intimidated by their vet. If there’s one piece of advice I can give you (and will, free of charge) if you don’t like and trust your vet, or you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, go elsewhere! Keep looking. Keep asking around. You can find a better fit. You can find a vet you like and trust. And when you do, show some gratitude and compassion for the often difficult, heartbreaking job they do. Most of them are pet parents too! They made their life’s work about caring for animals.
If you’re up to your “puffy from ugly crying” eyeballs in grief, you’re not alone. Nothing can prepare you for such a huge loss. I feel it too! But so does your vet and so many others. It hurts to love so deeply and then say goodbye! But keep opening your heart. If your dog is still here, go make those memories. Savor each and every precious moment because they go much too fast.
If possible, build a community around your dog. It’s not too hard to find other dog-obsessed people. Who knows, that nice gal you meet at the dog park may end up being one of your closest friends. You may not end up at a pug prom in Vegas, but perhaps instead of locking your dog up in a jail-like kennel while you trek through Europe, they may get an equally fun invitation to stay with their new BFF (best furry friend!) You will likely get some great pet tips and recommendations. Maybe even for an amazing new vet! Have fun together! Enjoy the good times and hold each up other when there’s sadness and loss. Remember, for a much-too-short amount of time you have the presence and unconditional love of an angel from heaven.
I want to give a huge heartfelt thanks to Dr. Kristen Andrews, Dr. Gail Renehan, Dr. Karen Becker, VCA Airport Irvine Animal Hospital and all the vets out there who are doing God’s work here on earth. I appreciate you more than you will ever know.
RIP Dotty, Phillip, Simon, Blaze, Jayla, Jasmine, LuLu, Joey, Blue, Maya, Raisin, Buddy, Chubbs, and so many others. I hope you’re running free at Rainbow Bridge and will be there with kisses and squeals of joy when we arrive and are reunited.
How your vet sees euthanasia.....
by Kristin Andrews, DVM
So, you bring me this puppy - she kisses my face, devours the cookies I offer, and our friendship starts.
Several visits later, he starts to learn where all the cookie jars are in the clinic, and that lady in the white coat, well she’s okay....
Fast forward many visits later, now I am in love with your dog and your whole family because, well, you are just really really good people and I have not only watched that pup turn into a really sweet family member, but I got to watch the kids grow every year and be a very small part of your journey.
Remember that time she ate your teenage daughter’s thong underwear? 😝😝😝 yeah we all had a good laugh over that once the surgery was done and she was recovered. Your daughter probably never forgave me for bringing that up and showing the whole fam-jam when they came to pick her up from the clinic.
So many adventures, so little time.....
And here we are, fifteen or so odd years later, having to say goodbye.
He’s got heart disease and I can’t fix it anymore. She’s got cancer and there is no cure. He has arthritis and the meds just aren’t working. I want her to live forever for you. I want that so badly it hurts. I feel like I have failed him and you when I have run out of options to keep them, and you, comfortable and happy.
So now it’s time, and I am supposed to be professional. Objective. I am the doctor. Calm. Cool. Collected. Always under control.
I have known you and her for a third of my life, and most of my professional career.
But I keep it together. My superhuman amazing technicians have put the catheter in. My support staff from reception to assistants have done all the paperwork. Trust me they may not show it but their hearts are breaking for you. They have been there. They know. And they know you and care about you too.
And I have the needle in the pocket of my white coat. The same pocket that was always full of treats for him. I take a deep yoga breath and come into the room. Gotta stay strong now.......
She’s giving me that sweet look she always does, the one that is followed by puppy kisses and a glance at the cookie jar. But she is too weak now. She is ready. You are not. I am not. But this shit has to happen because we love her too much to let her suffer.
She would keep going as long as we asked her to. But we can’t ask her to anymore. It’s not fair to her. I wish our human hearts could be so giving all the time. I wish I could be the person my dog thinks I am. I wish I wish I wish I could find a way for them to live forever. But I don’t have those magical powers. I am just a vet.
So we kiss him back, not much left of his body that still works, but that old tail wags, just enough that I lose my shit on the inside but I try not to cry. Gotta stay strong.
Her body relaxes, she is in your arms and your are sobbing. Another family has lost one of its most cherished members. I put my stethoscope to her heart to make sure it has stopped but she is held so tight to your chest that maybe that is your heart I hear pounding or maybe it’s mine and all the blood rushing through my ears as I try so so so hard not to turn into a blubbering mess.
Confirmed, he has passed. You lay him gently on the table and we hug tightly as you go to leave.
The door closes behind you and I don’t know if you hear this, but I sob hysterically into your pet’s ear. She is gone, he will be missed, and you have to face what I know will be one of the hardest parts of today.
Entering that house and they are not there to greet you.
Please know that I know how you feel. As you leave the clinic I just wish with every fiber of my being that you never had to face that. I wish they could live forever.
And please know, I am so grateful that I was a small part of your journey.
Love always, Your vet.
Follow Kristin on social media at @Chubbsthewampug
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