Happy New Year to everyone from Dr. Sandi Rosely! During the past few months resolutions for 2016 have been pondered and for Avonlea and Hollybank a revised website has won out. Our new website will be updated regularly with information provided by our staff. The posting will help you to get to know us a little better and also educate you about pet health. Through our website you will also be able to easily access our Facebook which will also have many different items of interest for your entertainment and educational purposes.
It is a pleasure for me to share with you something that is very dear to my heart and the driving force behind my continued passion for providing veterinary care. The human animal bond is something that seems pretty self explanatory, but in reality it is so much deeper than just a “human” and a “pet” sharing a simple relationship. I am very fortunate to have part of a very special bond with Hecter who was an extraordinary dog. He taught me about the depth and complexity of human animal bond over the many years that we shared together.
For those who don’t already know Hecter was a pitbull who came into my life just after graduating veterinary school. He was seized from an abusive home when he was 6 weeks old and brought to the clinic where I was practicing. He was quite the pathetic sight, all legs, thin as a rake and beyond scared. I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to adopt him and give him a real chance at a happy life. Little did I know at the time, it was Hecter who would give me pure happiness and teach me so much about unconditional love, patience, dedication, compassion and about the pressures of growing old.
Hecter was a real trooper and never felt sorry for himself. At an early age Hecter required hip surgery to prevent ongoing pain associated with a hip fracture that likely occurred as a result of trauma prior to being rescued. Despite some difficulties after surgery he never complained or gave up. He just trudged forward and always cooperated with his rehabilitation. I really think he just wanted to make me happy and would do anything I requested of him. His perseverance was remarkable and very admirable.
Hecter suffered from severe separation and confinement anxiety. This likely was a result of his fear of abandonment when he was neglected prior to rescue. I cannot tell you how many items in my house were destroyed when he became distressed. I tried cage confinement hoping to protect him from himself and my house from destruction. After he repeatedly escaped from a very secure crate I video-taped him to see what was going on. After seeing his distress on the video I never confined him again and instead continued with training and a course of anti-anxiety medication to help him learn how to manage his anxiety while away from his family. Please do not think that crate training is bad, it is an excellent training tool that I highly recommend and continued to use with my current dogs. It just was not right for Hecter. Through out Hecter’s life anxiety continued to be a condition that required ongoing control. Separation anxiety does not just go away. Understanding this really taught me to be patient and loving and it also helped me to adjust my own behaviours’ to help him become more self confident.
Hecter also had severe anxiety associated with cars. As a youngster he could not even go near a car without drooling and panting. Inside a car he would vomit even before the car was started. During one trip he threw up about 10 times before there was nothing left to bring up. He loved to be with his family so the decision to bring him on trips and live through the mess won out over leaving him at home alone. I resorted to using medication (and this is before the anti-nausea medication cerenia was available) to help improve his comfort. On the bright side, I thank Hecter for his car phobia which forced me to think outside of the box and come up with a solution for his problem. It has only made be a better veterinarian.
As Hecter became older he developed arthritis and degenerative myelopathy. His front legs were strong but his back legs were weak. I could see a change in his happiness and reduction in his energy level. Unfortunately he could not tolerate any of the pain medications that are typically used to help provide comfort. Thanks goodness for the mobility support dog food and sasha’s blend. My children would comment about Hecter being so lively and back to his normal self after being given his “happy food”. I have always been a real believer in nutrition and its effects on the body and Hecter’s response to the food and supplements reinforced and strengthened this belief.
When Hecter turned 13 yrs old he started to show his age. He was becoming deaf and he was doing things that he had never done before, like taking food off of the coffee table. As the year progressed he showed further signs of old age, including fear of the dark, and confusion. I cannot tell you how difficult and sad it is to see your beloved companion panic during the night, due to a presumed fear of the dark. The toll it inflicted on me and my family was also very stressful because no one was getting any sleep, unless I sedated him during the night. The guilt that I felt for being frustrated with him was very real and I can definitely say that I understand how it feels to be at a cross roads of how to address these complicated situations. In the end I believe empathy and compassion won out and I lovingly helped Hecter pass into a better place where he had no fear.
Hecter was and continues to be the epitome of the human animal bond. As the amulet of Avonlea Animal Hospital and Hollybank Animal Hospital he will continue to remind us of the importance of our bond with our loved ones, human and animal alike, which will ensure that we care for one another with respect, patience, understanding, empathy, compassion and love. I thank Hecter for being such a special dog who filled so many peoples hearts with love and for sharing his life with me and my family.