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Pet Stories and Memories

Pet Stories and Memories

 

"Until one has loved an animal,  a part of one's soul remains unawakened." - Anatole France


Below are a few stories and memories about beloved animals by Veterinary Teaching Hospital clients and CVM friends. Through each remembrance runs the common thread of connection between human and animal, and the unique ways these special friends find a place in our hearts.

Many thanks to everyone who has kindly submitted items for this page.

 


 

A Heartbeat at Our Feet

I waited to hear his excited footsteps.  When he entered, all bright eyes and tail wagging, I fell to my knees and gathered him up in my arms.

Within seconds, the veterinarian, a cardiology resident, said it all, “He has third degree atrioventricular (AV) heart block.  He needs a pacemaker implant, immediately.”

She was talking about Tyler, our 10-year old yellow Labrador retriever, who never missed a meal or an opportunity for a walk – and he certainly never had a bad day, until now.

Tyler, who always loved his long morning walks, had been hesitating.  He’d stop at the end of the driveway and just look at me, then sit.  I’d encourage him, but nothing persuaded him to budge. 

Tyler and FamilyThen my husband alerted to me some breathing difficulties that Tyler was exhibiting.  Alarmed, we took him to our local vet who recommended we seek a thorough evaluation for Tyler at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Teaching College (NCSU CVM/VTH).

So that’s what brought me to this exam room, and now I was being told that Tyler, who has the biggest heart in the world, needed some help to keep it beating.

The cardiology resident drew a diagram of his heart and compassionately explained how his heart was not operating properly causing the life-threatening situation.  It was this dysfunction that caused the lethargy and exercise intolerance he’d exhibited for months. 

Unfamiliar with a pacemaker implant for a dog, I was concerned it was experimental and very costly.  The cardiologist reassured me that it was the recommended procedure for dogs with third degree AV heart block because of their risk for sudden death; and this hospital successfully implants several pacemakers every year.  As for the cost, it was unexpected and not inexpensive, but it was for Tyler, our best buddy.

The pacemaker was inserted the next morning.  The following day, we loaded our still-groggy big boy into the car and fussed over him during the trip home and his recovery.

Remarkably, within the week he was taking long walks.  In a couple months, when permitted to run, he enjoyed ball tosses and chased the deer and our cat with joyous abandon.  It was good to have him back.

It’s been fourteen months since the pacemaker was implanted; the cardiologist reports that he is using the pacemaker 95 percent of the time.  Our local vet says Tyler’s the only dog with a pacemaker she’s ever treated – so his implant is a rarity, possibly because most dogs die from AV heart block before the problem is diagnosed and treated.

When we returned to NCSU VTH this fall to have Tyler’s regular exam and pacemaker evaluation the cardiologist told us that Tyler was displaying evidence of progressive heart disease that would potentially lead to congestive heart failure.

Our dear Mr. Tyler is now in early heart failure – though he doesn’t seem to notice.  He still greets each day as if it was his first, wanting to be all he can be. 

So that little pacemaker has given us a lot of time for long walks, though they are shorter now because his arthritic hind end can’t tolerate the long walks in the cold.  He adores belly-rubs and we enjoy watching his feet chase his dreams.  We’ve been blessed to share the love of this beautiful, gentle creature for this extended time and are so thankful.

But now his age is catching up with him – and it is age, we fear, that may take him from us, not his heart.

As long as his life is good he will be with us. We will not let him suffer or prolong his beautiful life for our pleasure; we’ve already made that decision.

In recent weeks, sensing the limited time we share, I’ve been building a scrapbook of our years with Tyler.  It’s therapy for us as we can’t fathom our life without him, so we put the photos of our life together in this book, hoping it will soothe our loss when he is gone. 

There’s not a place in our home without an etched memory or a place in our souls that has not been awakened by his spirit.  He’s been our best and most loyal friend.  He’s family, and now, in the words of Edith Wharton, “he’s our old dog, and his heartbeat is at our feet.” 

And his last gift to us is a simple lesson; live your day fully and with joy in your heart.

Bless his heart…his big heart.

The Author, Claudia Watson is a Pinehurst, North Carolina freelance writer and “Mom” to Tyler. 

 

Tyler's Big Heart Left a Hole in OursTyler

It’s 7:15 p.m.  I’ve finished dinner and have nowhere to go for the first time in twelve years.  No begging eyes.  No panting.  No thumping tail.  There’s only silence.  He’s always been here, waiting patiently for a tidbit from our plate and his evening walk.

Now, I sit looking at the box.  It’s on the kitchen counter.  It’s intricately-carved and lined with red velvet with no purpose until now.  A small brass key locks it.  It’s still warm with him.

When I arrived to collect him tonight the little white bag was heavy.  He was 75 pounds yesterday and was sent on his new journey with his blanket, orange squeaky, and flowers.  Perhaps that’s why all of him did not fit into my box.  So the rest of him, perhaps the best of him, will be scattered at places he loved.  Nevertheless, tonight he’s a mere shadow of himself; his once glorious self, our dear Tyler.

As you may recall from an earlier column (The Pilot, February 5), Tyler was the recipient of a doggie heart pacemaker late in 2008 from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Teaching Hospital.  Tyler was diagnosed with atrioventricular heart block and assigned a cardiology resident, Dr. Sandy Tou, who offered not only expert care, but also considerable love to Tyler. 

Tyler’s been holding his own for months, but earlier this spring it was as we thought; his poor body would give out before his big heart.

In recent weeks his bad days outnumbered his good days and we knew a decision imminent.  We promised we would not let his life decline just to hold on to him for fear of losing him.  So this time was special; and we opted for a few more joyful days knowing he let us know when it was time.

One crisp morning earlier this month, he took me on his old walk – nearly a mile.  It took well over an hour as his arthritic hind end did its best to imitate John Wayne’s swagger.  His tail wagged as he stopped to smell all the familiar places and linger.

Visiting old friends seemed important to him, too.  While walking one evening Tyler suddenly signaled he wanted to go up the hill, to where Miss Tinkie, a doggie pal lived.  Another night he trotted off to see Miss Bea, his perky Jack Russell neighbor. 

He greeted Roger, my husband, when he returned from a short trip to Afghanistan by parading around the yard with his favorite squeaky.  Later, that afternoon, he draped his paw protectively across Roger’s forearm as they both caught up on some rest.

He spent hours with me in the kitchen, always the Wonder Dog, wondering when the next treat would hit the floor.  He loved carrots.  Peanut butter was the go-to treat.  Last weekend he supervised as I made a batch of strawberry jam.  Yes, he got a taste topped with some peanut butter.

Yesterday he nudged us awake and welcomed his breakfast with energy, but then stood in the hall and hung his head.  His usual happy and bright-eyed nature had been missing the past week.  His gait was slow and hobbled and his breathing heavy. 

So he had decided and stood there and giving us “the look” – he was tired and ready to leave this Earthly place and us.  He lived a long and spectacular life, but he deserved to leave it with dignity and while he still felt like a dog.

We elected to take the long drive back to NCSU because it seemed fitting that Dr. Sandy, who had extended his life and given us months of wonderful memories, should be able to say goodbye to him, too.  And, we wanted to have his pacemaker removed and donated so that some other lucky dog could benefit from the technology.

At NCSU he seemed a bit anxious and shuffled around on the gurney.  To relieve his anxiety, and ours, we offered him special treats packed for his new journey – peanut butter slathered on dog biscuits and vanilla wafers.  Then Roger rolled the blanket into a makeshift pillow and placed it under Tyler’s chin.  Tyler contentedly placed his head onto it and looked up at us with those big soulful eyes.

We made a pact that we would not let Tyler’s last vision of us to be our tears.  We knelt in front of the gurney caressing his velvet ears and stroking him as we told him how much we loved him; how much he’d be missed. 

As the first injection, a sedative, was given he raised his head and happily looked at us as if to say, “Wow, this is good stuff!”  Then he looked at Roger and gently licked his arm.  As the second injection was given I watched his eyes as he watched me and he laid his head down one last time – peacefully.  I touched his nose; it was still warm with life.

Tyler Beauregard Winchester, a big name for a dog who was bigger than life. He was an extraordinary dog, a gentle creature, and the best part of our family.

The Author, Claudia Watson is a Pinehurst, North Carolina freelance writer. This article, along with "A Heartbeat at Our Feet" has been reprinted with permission of The Pilot, Southern Pines, NC, June  2010.

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Our Christmas Story

It was Christmas Eve when our female German Shepherd, Miss Qira, became very ill. Like many times before, we took her to the Teaching Hospital at NC State's College of Veterinary Medicine.

We weren't the only people at the College that evening. As we entered the building, we passed many people who sat, paced, or even cried along side their pets. We were immediately greeted by the Hospital staff and treated with the compassion, respect and degree of professionalism to which we'd grown accustomed to in our past trips to the Vet School.

We learned Miss Qira's treating veterinarian was not available and we'd need to rely on the clinicians and staff on-call that night. We were ushered into an exam room and received immediate attention. Our files had been reviewed and following a brief question and answer period, Miss Qira was led away for further examination.

My husband sat in the waiting area and I went outside. There I met some of the people we'd passed on our way into the building. We spoke and cried together. Our stories were so similar. A beloved pet had become very ill and it was Christmas Eve. Where else would we be but at the greatest Vet Hospital? One couple had driven straight from Virginia with their dog. One couple made the drive from Wilmington to Raleigh. Eventually, others wandered outside and joined our conversation and community. We consoled each other with the assurance we were at the very best place to have our pets receive the opportunity to survive their critical conditions. Dechters

Once called in for a consultation, we learned Miss Qira had contracted a virus. She'd need to be kept over night and receive sedation and intravenous fluids. We left the hospital knowing that someone would be there throughout the evening to check on and monitor her progress. I hugged all of those I had spent time with and we all wished one another the best.

On Christmas morning, we returned to the Vet School and learned Miss Qira had a peaceful night. Over the next two days, our girl received wonderful care because the clinicians successfully determined the source of her virus.

The NC State College of Veterinary Medicine can be very proud of those the public comes in contact with when visiting the Teaching Hospital. As an alumuna, I am especially delighted to share with everyone that my University is home to a Vet School of excellence.

Since our experience that special night, my husband and I have been bringing goodies to those working at the Teaching Hospital on Christmas Eve. It is our way of saying thank you, we appreciate you and your diligence for our families.

-Barbara Dechter (Raleigh, NC)

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Pooka Moochie

Pooka Moochie was my companion. I picked her out when she was 6 weeks old and we have been together ever since. We have moved from New York, to Tennessee, then to North Carolina. There was never a moment that she was not a part of the action. Pooka was so much more than just a cat, she was mine. She was the best!Pooka Moochie

Pooka's life was put at risk by a steroid shot she received for a skin allergy. Pooka went into cardiac failure and spent 3 days at the NC State Veterinary Teaching Hospital where they were able to save her life. For the next month she was back and better than ever. It was the best I have ever seen her. February 20, 2010, Pooka developed a saddle clot and lost the use of her back legs. I immediately rushed her back to the NC State Veterinary Teaching Hospital where they gave me a very grim prognosis. The doctor told me they don't usually save animals with that kind of clot. They said Pooka was a fighter and she was a good candidate to try and save. Pooka spent the night and I was alerted in the morning that she had gotten worse. On February 21, 2010 I had to say good bye to my best friend.

Through out this extremely sad ordeal I was given many options on course of treatment, each with a dollar sign attached. If you could pay it, then your pet received the treatment. If you could not pay, you would have to say goodbye too soon. Luckily, I could pay and I was able to hold on to my sweet girl for a little while longer. As I reflected on Pooka's death I realized what would have happened if I could not pay. At that point I came up with the idea of The Pooka Moochie Pet Assistance Fund. I wanted Pooka's death to make a difference. A way for her to always be remembered. I wanted to turn a very harsh negative to a positive. If through the Pooka Moochie Pet Assistance Fund I can save a family the hurt I went through, Pooka has done her job.

I chose for the funds to go through the NC State Veterinary Teaching Hospital because they treated Pooka as if she was their own. They gave her and me the best care possible. It's a way to give back for all that they did for Pooka.

I hope this inspires you and makes you cherish every moment you have with your pet.

Thank you for being a part of the Pooka Moochie Pet Assistance Fund Family.

-Cyndi Morgia

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Nixa

February 2002 – January 2010

NixaIn 2002 I went for surgical removal of abdominal adhesions and overnight hospitalization. I woke three months later in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit on a ventilator. Imagine my surprise! My surgery had gone horribly wrong. A loop of perforated bowel went unnoticed at closing, and infection was soon followed by total body sepsis.

According to my spouse, I was a cornucopia of medical problems: fluid in my lungs, uncontrollable high blood pressure, kidney failure and massive swelling in my brain. The last proved hardest to overcome. The areas of my brain that control balance, coordination, speech and cognition were compromised.

After the three months in a coma, I spent another three months in the hospital recovering and learning how to be a person again. There I received speech, cognitive, physical and occupational therapies. After release from the hospital, I lived in a hospital bed in my living room for weeks, continuing with all of the above therapies.

I spent the better part of a year working on regaining the functions I had lost. I relearned how to speak, read, write, walk, feed, dress and all the other activities that make one human. However, no matter how hard I worked, I could not stop falling. One moment I'd be standing up and the next thing I knew I would be on the floor. I was also dropping things all the time.Nixa sleeping

In July 2004, Nixa came into my life. Nixa, a beautiful black lab, was my service dog and my constant companion. You saw me, and you saw Nixa. She kept me safe and kept me from falling. When I would start to lose my balance, Nixa would stand totally still so I could lean on her shoulders to steady myself. Nixa picked up the hundreds of things that fell out of my hands. I had no idea how many things I was dropping until Nixa starting giving them to me! Nixa found all my lost pens.

Words cannot express how Nixa changed my life. Sometimes I was so thankful to have her that I would well up with tears. Nixa would lick my cheeks as if to say "Mom, it's my job." She gave me confidence and comfort. I knew that Nixa would be a big help to me. I had no idea that Nixa would give me back my life.

Now I picture Nixa in a wonderful place with plenty of rabbits and squirrels to chase. Nixa drinks from a stream that occasionally bubbles up peanut butter. Nixa gets to romp as much and as long as she wants. I am so thankful to have had Nixa. I miss her so. — Renee Zimmerman View Nixa's Brick Page

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Ratso

Your friends miss you.

I’m not talking about just your furry friends here at home; I’m talking human friends. You have more friends than any cat I have known. Of course there are your neighborhood friends, all the people who visited and Ratso the catknew you for years. And your California friends who would come to visit, especially the one who would sneak you into bed with her. And there is ‘your’ little girl from Virginia, the one who carried you around and watched movies with you. She misses you terribly.

But most of all, there are all your CVM friends. They’re the ones I still see in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, in the hallways, and every time I see one of your friends, I think of you. You know the ones I mean; there’s just no end to these friends who cared for you, treated you, worried about you, hugged you, loved you. From the front desk to the
back wards, your friends are everywhere.

There are your Internal Medicine friends. So many doctors, residents, and interns worked so hard to diagnose your problems. And the DVM students, my how you helped to train them. Each new student on your case had quite a lesson in case review (your medical records are thicker than Raleigh’s phone book) and learned how to write such detailed discharge summaries! You always made them think. And there are those friends who would always find an appointment when you needed help. And of course, those wonderful clinical technicians. They always made your trips to see the
doctors a good time. So many laps you sat on, so many chairs you took over. I once saw a technician working on her computer standing up, because you had her chair and she didn’t want to bother you. Whether you were having a good day or bad, they always made you feel like the king. Now those friends really miss you.

But it’s not just the Internal Medicine crew, no, you have friends everywhere in the hospital. There are the folks in the labs, in Radiology, and the great people in Pharmacy. There’s the Neurology group, and of course, the Oncology friends. Radiation treatment for three weeks sounded like such a tough course of treatment, but you know, having your friends there to care for you, well, you got through it just fine. Those special heating pads were pretty nifty, and helped to brighten your spirits. And how many cats ever get a party after finishing radiation treatments? So many of your
friends showed up to celebrate.

Of all the friends we made these last couple of years, I think the ones I learned most about were the veterinary technicians in the treatment wards. The day wards, Intensive Care Unit, the Intermediate Care Ward — you spent a fair bit of time in those places. You always had everything you needed, and then some. Enough blankets to keep you snug (my priority), and someone always looking after you, making sure medically you were doing okay. But there was also all the holding, and the carrying around, the singing to you, the kisses on your nose and shaved forehead. In your time of need, in your stays in the hospital, those friends made your days a little brighter, your stay more like a vacation. And your friends became my friends. Friends that were there for me as well as for you. Friends who cried with me when you were gone.

For awhile I couldn’t walk through the hospital, I couldn’t bear to see all those friends. Time has eased the grief, and I can walk down the halls again. Your friends are still there. Some have moved on, and students have graduated and are great doctors somewhere else. But most of your friends are still there, and they still miss you, like I do. They have new patients, new challenges, new victories, and even some defeats. But they carry on, they take care of all the creatures on their watch. Their hearts break sometimes, but they are all there with the same shared purpose of healing, of caring.

Like I said Ratso, I never knew a cat with so many friends. And I am grateful for them all. — Greta Johansen

Greta Johansen is Assistant Dean for Business and Finance at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Ratso, who is shown above on the cover of the Winter 2009 edition of CVM Magazine, touched all those who helped him in his long battle with complications from diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, and a brain tumor.

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Cassidy

Cassidy and ownerCassidy was found aimlessly wandering the streets in the Bronx, New York some three years ago. He was picked up and taken to a local animal shelter where he was examined and found to be in sad shape. Not only was he missing his right hind leg, he was virtually hairless and some 30 pounds underweight.

I suppose Cassidy’s story may have ended there; not too many people want to rescue a stray with such issues. Fate, however, had something else in store for this German shepherd mix with the great disposition. I learned of Cassidy’s plight through a pet segment in a morning television program and I have to admit that there were tears in my eyes
at the end of the report. I knew I had to help. I contacted the shelter, adopted Cassidy, and brought him home to become a member of the Posovsky household joining me, my wife Susan, and Bella, our Rhodesian Ridgeback.

We cared for Cassidy. He regained his hair, his weight went back up to 75 pounds, and he became fast friends with Bella. Cassidy and Bella played well together and tug-of-war was a favorite game. Cassidy would tire easily, however, and I noticed that Bella, who is bigger and stronger with her four legs, would let the three-legged Cassidy win. I decided
to look into the prospect of getting Cassidy a new limb to further improve the quality of his life.

All roads in my search seemed to lead to the NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine and to Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little, an associate professor of orthopedics and an orthopedic surgeon in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. After a lengthy phone conversation with Dr. Marcellin-Little, we drove to Raleigh for Cassidy to be examined and for us to learn what might be done for our three-legged dog.

Susan and I appreciated Dr. Marcellin-Little’s “surgery as a last resort” philosophy. He measured Cassidy and then during a two-year period fabricated and tried to fit Cassidy with not one but two removable prosthetic limbs that attached to his truncated right hind leg by straps or sleeves. The active Cassidy was able to slip out of both of them.

It was then that Dr. Marcellin-Little talked with us about Cassidy being an appropriate candidate for a new surgical approach involving osseointegration, a cutting-edge technology through which the living bone fuses with a prosthesis. We agreed to the surgery, understanding that Cassidy would be the first dog to undergo the procedure. Dr. Marcellin-
Little and the faculty and students at the NC State College of Engineering then began creating models and the actual prosthetic limb. Finally, after a year of waiting, we received the telephone call that informed us Cassidy’s team was ready. We could schedule the surgery.

The staff at the CVM Veterinary Teaching Hospital was as excited as we were. Cassidy became a media celebrity and patiently met with newspaper and television reporters who wanted to see him before his big surgery. Cassidy has one quirk and I told Dr. Marcellin-Little and the VTH staff that he could not be left in a cage. He hates it. They made every
accommodation to keep him in ICU after surgery, surrounded by caring people 24/7.

The concern and the care given to Cassidy was extremely comforting to me and Susan. While we knew this procedure had never been done on a dog, Dr. Marcellin-Little assured us that this was not an experiment. During that year of waiting he worked with engineers to develop the perfect limb for Cassidy. Computed tomography scans helped engineers create three-dimensional computer images and then the physical models.

Dr. Marcellin-Little used the models to practice the procedure, making minute adjustments to ensure a perfect fit before the actual surgery. He rehearsed this particular surgery numerous times on models of Cassidy’s leg, to assure that all would go well.

Dr. Marcellin-Little’s professional skill and the compassion he shows for animals has been very comforting to us. Cassidy is a family member, of course, and holds a special place in our hearts, particularly when I think of his journey from the streets of the Bronx.

I hope Cassidy’s story can let others know of the great work being accomplished at North Carolina State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. This important work deserves to be supported for in helping our four-legged family members who we all love so much, we enhance our own lives. — Steve Posovsky

Read about Cassidy's story in Scientific American

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Lucy the dog Lucy

The first time Lucy and I went to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) at the College of Veterinary Medicine, we felt so warmly welcomed as if we were visiting good friends. Little did we know that we really were meeting people who would become as dear to us as our hometown friends.

Lucy and I first met at my local Dairy Queen 13 years ago; she was searching for food, I was there to buy my favorite milkshake. This lovable mixed breed Lab became my most expensive DQ visit ever, but then she’s been the best companion a person could have. Whenever friends would visit, Lucy was certain that their sole purpose in being there was to pet her and make sure she was the center of their attention. Her self-confidence was never more evident than during our appointments at the VTH. She became known as the biggest flirt there!

Our connection to the VTH began one day in October 2006. Lucy was having trouble breathing at night and her veterinarian, Dr. Kay Lawrence of Lake Country Animal Hospital, referred her to the VTH. I was pleased that she was seen the next day on an emergency basis by the hospital’s cardiology group. While the news that Dr. Allison Adams, a cardiology resident, gave us was not especially good, her professionalism and compassion softened the impact of the situation and gave us both hope and support. Technician Anne Meyer was so kind and nurturing to Lucy and me that she actually made the visit pleasant. They were genuinely interested in my life and I just knew that I had found the perfect place for both Lucy and me.

After a series of blood tests and an echocardiogram, we learned that Lucy had mitral valve regurgitation, atrial fibrillation, and an adrenal tumor. Dr. Adams, however, assured me that my girl had some quality time left. Lucy was put on the appropriate medications and, within a few weeks, her heart rate stabilized within a normal range.

Sometimes intense pet parents require as much attention as their pet does and that was certainly the case with me. I needed to understand the problems and treatment, but I also needed a little nurturing. Dr. Adams’s manner included just the right amount of support to accompany her professionalism and straightforward answers, which I will always appreciate. She was determined to keep Lucy comfortable and to ensure that I was well informed. In addition to offering clear and thorough explanations of Lucy’s treatment, she provided me with the heart-to-heart conversations I needed.

Once we left the VTH, Dr. Adams or one of her colleagues called frequently to check on Lucy and me. No detail was too small for the VTH staff. One day, when Lucy’s digoxin blood level had to be checked, I was uncertain if she had ingested
her pills since she had left most of her breakfast uneaten. Dr. Andrea Lantis, another cardiology resident, happily sorted through the leftover food to determine if Lucy had consumed the pills or not. On another occasion, when I was paying the bill after a day of testing, I looked around and didn’t see Lucy. I soon discovered her outside with Dr. Adams, enjoying a walk up and down the sidewalk with her special vet. Time after time, I’ve found that CVM hospital services extend well beyond the diagnosis and treatment of canine health problems. The VTH staff treats and loves the whole dog and the dog’s whole family!

Dr. Adams and the VTH staff touched my life in so many ways, both professionally and personally. When I heard about the Coat of Excellence Program, I knew it would be the perfect way to honor Dr. Adams for her exceptional care of Lucy and me. Dr. Adams’s natural warmth and superb professionalism put both of us at ease during a challenging time.

My human family has a history of serious cardiac problems, and we’ve always sought the best cardiac care available. I wanted nothing less for Lucy. The care she received was so excellent that I’ve requested that the VTH accept me as a patient, too! The Veterinary Teaching Hospital gave Lucy’s heart the best care in the world, and, in the process, gave
my heart exactly what it needed: more quality time with my friend and lots and lots of love. - Coley James

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Alex

There is this wonderful place called the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) where faculty, staff and students provide compassion, support and a true love for all animals. Man's best friend and the CVM are what kept me together.  Alex will have a brick in honor of his name placed onto a walkway that enters the hospital.  A piece of Alex will be here forever. Please go to the website www.cvm.ncsu.edu click on Friends & Donors Alexthen Search for a Brick.  Honoree's name is Alex Ramey.  Thank you all for your compassion & support in getting me through my time of need. I'm still crying a lot but I know in my heart it was the right choice.  I know a lot of people but you guys are truly good quality people!!  Here's the eulogy:
 
Look not where I was
For I am not there
My spirit is free
I am everywhere
 
In the air that you breathe
In the sounds that you hear
Don't cry for me mom
My spirit is near
 
I'll watch for you
From the other side
I'll be the one running
New friends by my side
 
Smile at my memory
Remember in your heart
This isn't the end
It's a brand new start
 
Thank you all for your cards, it really means a lot to me.
 
Love,
ME

- Karen Ramey of Holly Springs, NC

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Buck and MollyBuck and Molly

Our Flat Coat Retriever, Buck, was diagnosed with cancer on New Year's Eve of 1997. At the time I was a homebuilder in the Raleigh area and had just built a home for Dr. Sylvester Price, oncologist at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Mike Bagley of Clayton Animal Hospital, our local vet, called Dr. Price who arranged to immediately see Buck at the College. At first the outlook was guarded with maybe an 8 month life expectancy, however, with Buck's incredible will to live and the kind and compassionate care he received at the College of Veterinary Medicine, he lived another 2 1/2 years. Buck was 15 when he died, an age unheard of for a Flat Coat. His quality of life was fantastic and he enjoyed coming to see his friends Petra and Franchette for treatments.

Fast forward to the present, our Golden Retriever, Molly, needed an MRI to diagnose a hip problem and once again we were referred to the College of Veterinary Medicine by Dr. Bagley. While waiting in the lobby, I started talking to a kind gentleman in a red coat. I asked him what his job was and he said he was a volunteer and just tried to help anyone who needed it while they were clients of the Vet School. I asked how I could become a volunteer and he introduced me to Valerie Ball, Director of Client Services. Today I volunteer regularly at the Vet School and I enjoy every hour. My wife, Betty, and I are very thankful that a facility like the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine is available for the care of our dogs. I tell my friends I have gone from President of a homebuilding company to Chief pooper scooper and I couldn't be happier! - Randolph Reid

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Chance

ChanceOnly two years old, Chance weighs 1300 pounds and stands taller than me. His size doesn’t matter, though – he is still a baby, my baby, and gives me a kiss every morning when I feed him breakfast and every night when I see him to bed. It’s a special moment for this “Gentle Giant” and me, especially since every day he lives to kiss me is truly a miracle.

When Chance, the first horse I had ever owned from birth, was five months old, my veterinarian, Dr. Younger sent him to the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine's Large Animal Hospital due to severe colic symptoms, warning me that Chance might not survive the trip. The veterinarians there discovered he had a deformity in his intestines. Throughout the treatment and recovery, Dr. Sheats and Dr. Gerard carefully reviewed all possible options, candidly discussing with me the risks and benefits of each. Surgery was the best option. Over the last year and a half, Chance has had three major surgeries. The hospital became Chance’s second home, with him spending nearly as much time there as in his own barn. Thanks to the efforts and love of Dr. Sheats, Dr. Gerard, and the rest of the hospital staff, however, Chance is now happy and at home with me, where he belongs, sharing the kisses that he deserves.

I established the “A Chance to Learn” Equine Scholarship because I wanted to share my joy in my horse Chance’s full recovery. Chance never would have survived until his 1st birthday without the experience and support of dedicated and talented veterinarians, researchers, surgeons, veterinary assistants and students. I hope that as a fourth year student, the recipient will bring the same passion and skill to the future endeavors of the North Carolina State Equine Program.

I treasure every moment I spend with Chance. Each night when I put him to bed, Chance and I reflect on his emotional roller coaster ride in life.  I am so very thankful for what Chance has taught me and in return Chance and I want to share in teaching others.

There are not enough words to describe the greatness of the North Carolina State Equine Teaching Hospital.  I realize that in the scheme of things this is a very small scholarship, but it has two of the biggest hearts behind it!

Forever thankful for a chance to live,

- Chance and Robin Freeman

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Sunshine BittnerSunshine Bittner

Sunshine rescued me in July, 2002, three months after my husband, John, had died of pancreatic cancer. She burrowed herself deeply into my heart and soul, giving me such joy, love, and companionship. She moved with me 3200 miles across the country to Idaho in 2005 in the back seat of my car, resting her sweet head on the back cushion so she could track my parents, following us in their car. She loved hiking with the "Hiker Chix" and Mountain West Outdoor Club in the Boise foothills, Bogus Basin trails and Sun Valley trails. Most of all, she made me laugh, with her impish grin, one-ear-up-one-ear-down, let's play bows, tag around the dining table, joyish running and turning on a dime, and doggie angels in the snow. Her sweet and gentle spirit will be in my spirit forever. 2001-2007. Gift of God and John. - Denise Bittner View Sunshine's Brick Page

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Target

TargetHe was under a car in a busy parking lot, scared and hungry, about a year old and not neutered yet. Ironic that it was at a Target store since his beautiful tabby pattern, called classic tabby, formed a perfect bull's eye on each side. We think he was abandoned there, it's hard to imagine because he was such a sweet cat, how lucky I was to find him. Target loved company and would greet them, and drool when you scratched his head and chin. He had to leave us much too soon following complications from a urinary blockage, we didn't want him to suffer any longer. I hope his story will remind people how important it is to spay and neuter their pets to prevent so many homeless pets, and that I see you again someday, Target!
- Jane Thompson View Target's Brick Page

 

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BJ RozierBJ Rozier

BJ came into our lives in 1999, not long after losing our dog, Butch. Thus, the name BJ - Butch, Jr. He quickly lived up to the name and brought us so much of the joy Butch had brought us many years prior. The runt of the litter, BJ was a little palm-sized ball of snow-white fluff. He was so tiny, it looked like you had been picking cotton and were carrying a small bundle of it when you held him. His little curls hung around his eyes like a shaggy surfer haircut - something that would define him throughout his life and drive my mother to keep him groomed with decorative bows for every season, as if he were just another one of us girls.

Speaking of seasons, at Christmas, I would often sit at the piano and play carols, BJ howling along. We could never tell if he was trying to sing with us or if the cacophony hurt his tiny ears. Probably the latter, as none of us are extremely talented in this department. He would often retreat to his special spot under the Christmas tree to get some peace away from all the hustle and bustle of the holidays. If we couldn't find him for a while, all we had to do was look there and there he'd be, looking up at us with eyes sparkling like the lights of the tree.

From the very day we got him, BJ immediately took a liking to my dad. In a house full of girls, he and my dad were the only boys. As they say, a dog is a "MAN's best friend" so I guess the rest of us couldn't fault him for that. He would follow my dad everywhere. Down to the mailbox to get the paper, outside sunning himself in the driveway as my dad mowed the lawn, for a quick ride in the car to the store to pick up something we forgot for dinner, and sleeping on my dad's pillow on his side of the bed, where he simply blended in with the white, downy sheets. BJ loved to sit on the back of the couch as my dad watched TV and would use my dad as a stepping stool to get up there. My dad wouldn't even flinch as he stepped all over his clothes. One of his favorite things to do was clean my dad's ears by licking them to death. He never did that to the rest of us, just dad. I guess you could say my dad didn't necessarily need to use q-tips anymore thanks to BJ. Ha. In the summertime, BJ would come right along with us to the lake as my dad drove the boat, BJ sitting with him at the helm because he loved the wind in his face. This was where he seemed truly happy. I will always remember him this way.

We recently lost BJ to a brain tumor. It affected my dad the most, so I write this in honor of him for Father's Day and, of course, in memory of my precious little B, as I like to call him. We love you, we will never forget you, and I know you are coasting in your own little doggie boat up in heaven, with your face in the wind...

- In honor of Jim Rozier and in memory of BJ

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