The first vet is spoken highly of by her clientele and is probably ranked among the top 5 out of over 100 local veterinarians. The second vet is perhaps not as highly favored in the community, and runs a walk-in clinic along with a not-for-profit service that caters to the tight budgets of many elderly pet owners.
The first was our top choice after trying four other vets in the area over the past 5 years. After talking to her office staff and many of her customers, we were convinced we had found the best of "the best" for our 3 dogs -- not only quite capable, but a very compassionate vet also.
At least that's what we thought up until our eldest -- a 9+ year old Cocker Spaniel [click here to read my 2011 post "G" is for Ginger] -- took a sudden turn for the worst.
Ginger had a Protein Losing Enteropathy we had managed to keep in remission for nearly 2 years through a carefully monitored holistic diet. But, the symptoms were back with even more vengeance than before.
It was the day before the winter solstice -- that time of year when the noon sun is at its lowest level above the horizon. About mid-morning, Ginger let me know it took all she had within her to simply lift her head up a few inches above my lap.
I put a call into our new vet.
We were all set to just drive to the clinic, when vet#1 returned my call. I told her how I knew my little girl was on her last leg, but I just wanted to make sure she wasn't in too much pain -- that she was comfortable.
To my surprise and dismay, this person had the nerve to scold me. Something about a typical case of IBD (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and me needing to get serious about treatment.
Is she for real?? I thought. She admittedly had never seen Ginger, and was looking at 2 year old blood work -- not a biopsy. You've got to be kidding me! Serious about treatment?!
I phoned the other vet.
Vet#2 saw us right away and wanted to do fresh blood work. Our dear little fighter was severely anemic, so we all decided it best to leave her in the hospital overnight.
When the phone rang that morning, I knew who it was before I answered. Yes, it had been in the wee hours of that winter solstice, December 21st, that Ginger quietly and comfortably finished her epicurean escapade with life.
Heading out the door, we grabbed her favorite dusty orange afgan -- the one she always dragged to the front door to tell us "take me with you" when we were leaving in the car.
The vet only charged us for the blood work. No office visit. No exam fee. No hospital charges. Only for the blood work that confirmed we had done everything possible for our little Ginger Girl. Unbelievable!
There was one place in the backyard Ginger was always forbidden to go. We called it "the pit." Relentlessly, she'd head to that spot to eat grass or sniff out some unknown critter. Then we would clap our hands loudly for her to get away and she would jump and run like it was some sort of game.
Talking things through, it only made sense to us for the "forbidden spot" to be her final resting place.
Wrapped in her favorite afgan, together with her most favorite toy, we placed her in her most desirable spot in the yard, topped off with a headstone! If there was ever such a thing as doggie heaven, this would be it!
As far as vets go...I guess there's hearsay compassion, and then there's heartfelt compassion. As you can about guess, the only similarity between those two is they both begin with the word "hear." Quite seriously, when it involves our other two dogs, the choice is obvious.
We are so thankful to God to have had those 4 and a half years of healing with our beautiful rescued Ginger Girl (who actually rescued us). And thankful too, for the years ahead with our Zephyr and Brandy Bojangles, who have helped us to move forward...
...just second nature for a dog. :~)