I have been writing these columns for 12 years now, which equates to multiple generations of my own four-legged family members. Writing is one of my greatest passions, next to caring for pets and their people. I took the opportunity to learn journalism during my high school years, but much to my father’s dismay, I chose veterinary medicine for my lifelong career instead.
One of the biggest challenges for journalists is repeatedly coming up with fresh topics to write about. Or, as I like to describe it, “being inspired.” My husband and I have both realized over the years that writing about what you have experienced, observed and know is always easiest and most entertaining.
Where is this leading? To my clients, of course. They both inspire and provide me with thought provoking material to write about every day and, admittedly, some inspire me more than others.
Over the past 30 years, I have assisted multiple pets across The Rainbow Bridge. Just when I think it can’t get more difficult for pet owners to let go, another heart-wrenching experience comes along. Such was the case of Kelly and Dave Frost when they had to make the difficult, but necessary, decision to say good-bye to Jack, their beloved, kind-hearted Golden Retriever, following a 16-month battle with cancer.
Jack was infinitely blessed to be adopted by a family who loved him to the nth degree and always provided him with the best veterinary care possible. Kelly and Dave also sent Jack to military school (a.k.a. obedience training) to help him be the best dog he could be. He was gifted with a fellow Golden Retriever, Riley, to remind him he was a dog, followed by two lovely children to play with and watch over as they grew. With a family he adored and frequent trips to the lake, Jack’s life truly was “golden.”
I am forever inspired by how Kelly and Dave consistently give careful consideration to what is best for all of their dogs in their hour of need. So, when Jack was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow), there was no question they would do whatever it would take to prolong a good quality life for him. They made frequent, sometimes weekly, trips to Ohio State’s veterinary oncology department for evaluation and testing. Jack’s test results were numbers that became all too familiar to them.
Gratefully, the Frosts experienced the joy of Jack’s cancer remission, then the fight to maintain it with multiple changes in his chemotherapy regimen. But, at all points in time, they were ever mindful of what was best for Jack, as well as the fact that his battle would have to end. Being certain that the fight was indeed over when the time came was of utmost concern for them. So when a final trip to Ohio State made it clear that the end was near, Kelly and Dave brought Jack home to be with him in his final hour of need.
The common question for pet owners caring for end of life pets is always the same: Am I making the right decision — when given the choice? Of course, this was the Frost’s debate as well. I reassured them when the time came for Jack to leave us, their decision would be and was the greatest act of love of all.
I know Jack’s family continues to struggle with his loss because he was more than a precious family pet. In talking with them during many visits and phone calls, it was more than apparent that he was their Heart Dog. Heart Dogs dig in a little deeper and the loss is incredibly more painful.
I, too, have had a Heart Dog. The pain associated with the loss seemed like it would never end. But it did … several months later when my husband placed a new puppy in my lap. Painful as it may seem, I hope you have a Heart Dog, too, because “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.”— A.A. Milne Winnie-the-Pooh