Monthly Archives: December 2013

Why does my cat do that?

Nigel. King of his domain.

Nigel. King of his domain.

Cats. They are odd creatures. Unlike dogs who have developed a working relationship with people over the centuries, cats… work for themselves. And yet we love them, and we bring them into our homes despite their tendency to lord over everyone. Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.

But have you ever wondered about why cats do some of the things they do?

Why, for example, do cats purr? Most people connect the gentle purr of a cat to contentment, and it’s true that cats do purr when they’re happy and relaxed. They purr when they nurse kittens. But they also purr when they’re afraid or stressed. So purring can communicate multiple different states of mind- maybe like a smile in a human? People smile when they’re happy, but many also smile when they’re nervous.

What is even more interesting than communication is that a cat’s purr can actually help to heal bones, both in cats themselves and in others who are exposed to the purring.

Mine. All mine. Only mine.

Mine. All mine. Only mine.

Why do they go crazy for catnip? According to Dr. Ruth MacPete, catnip contains an essential oil called Nepetalactone that cats find attractive and enticing. While some cats go wild from catnip and run about the house like a maniac, others drool or become sedate and docile. The occasional over-indulger may even become grumpy or mildly aggressive. The response doesn’t last long, though. Usually the effects wear off after 15 minutes or so.

Why do cats rub their faces against things? Cats do a lot of communicating through scent. They even have a specialized organ in the rooves of their mouths called the vomeronasal or Jacobson’s organ that allows them to better analyze scents. Urine-spraying is the type of scent-marking that we are most familiar with (and dislike the most!) but cats also communicate with scent glands in their faces. When they rub against walls, against table legs, against their cat trees, they are letting other cats know that they have been there. Cats also scent-mark each other by rubbing their faces against one another, and they like to scent-mark their humans as well. This is all a part of bonding- mixing scents, including one another in the group. Head bumping (or around our house, head “bonking”) is another favorite bonding behavior for scent-marking. A sign of true kitty love!

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

Why do cats scratch furniture or scratching posts (even if they’re declawed)? Scratching serves multiple purposes for cats. In cats who have claws, it helps the cat to loosen and shed the outer layers of their claws, helping to keep them healthy. It also allows them to fully stretch their backs and shoulders. But the most important part of scratching behavior for a cat is communication. Cats who scratch repeatedly in one place are communicating both visually through their destruction, as well as through the scent glands in their feet. This is the likely reason why declawed cats continue to “scratch”– they are leaving their scent on the object to communicate with other cats.

Why do cats like to drink from the faucet? Many cats are very attracted to running water from the faucet. It makes sense- cats prefer their food and their water to be fresh. Water that sits for awhile in a bowl becomes stale and simply doesn’t taste as good. The motion of running water is also attractive to a lot of cats. If you think about how cats live in the wild, a source of moving water is less likely to be stagnant or contaminated than a standing body of water like a puddle or pond. And something else to think about if you cat prefers his water from the faucet instead of his bowl– small, deep bowls may be bothersome to cats because their whiskers hit the sides. A flat, wider bowl, or even better- a kitty fountain– will provide a more comfortable drinking option. Cats in general don’t tend to drink enough to keep themselves well-hydrated, so if running water encourages your cat to drink, go with it!

There is a wide array of other strange cat behaviors out there to be looked at. Which ones baffle you the most?

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Posted by on December 26, 2013 in Behavior, Cats


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10 things every spoiled rotten dog should have.

Last month we looked at some of the best ways to care for and enrich your cat’s environment, so this month we are looking at some of the best ways to spoil our dogs rotten.

But we start out this post at the same place, with

1. Care Credit. Care Credit is a credit card specifically geared toward healthcare (yours and your pet’s- I’ve used mine at my dentist’s office). It is easier to get than a regular credit card and allows you six months interest free to pay off a balance of over $200. Make sure that you read the fine print- if you miss a payment or do not pay off the balance within the allotted time, you will be responsible for all that interest. But this can be a great tool in an emergency to buy you some time to get funds together and not have to take the entire hit at once. And goodness knows, with all the goofy things that dogs do (and eat!) having an extra payment option available can never hurt.

2. A well-fitted, sturdy collar with readable tags. This is your dog’s first line of defense from getting lost forever. A well-fitted collar that the dog cannot pull out of, kept in good repair, and hung with a legible tag with your contact information on it is the best chance of getting your dog home. Rabies tags and dog licenses are also tools to identify and get a dog returned to his family, but they require an extra step and the availability of extra people- either animal control or your local veterinarian’s office. A good nametag with your phone number clearly printed on it is your dog’s best bet to get home quickly.

3. A microchip. If your dog’s first line of identification– his collar and tags– fails, a microchip can still get your dog back to you. Shelters, veterinarians, and many police officers have scanners, and as long as your pet’s microchip is REGISTERED and has ACCURATE INFORMATION attached to it, he has a good chance of getting back to you. When we microchip pets at White Oaks, we automatically go ahead and register them for you with the information you provide, so that there are no worries that it is done. A microchip will also allow you to get a lifetime license for your dog- you pay one time and don’t have to worry about it ever again.

Bully sticks make for good chewing and are fully digestible.

4. Things to Chew. Most dogs love to chew. It keeps them occupied, it helps them to destress, and appropriate chew toys can be a great way for them to clean their teeth. Dog chews are available in everything from plastic Nylabones in a variety of shapes, textures, and even flavors (I get a kick out of the dinosaur ones); to dried meat and smoked hooves; to real marrow bones from the butcher; to antlers. You want to pick a size and hardness appropriate to your dog. A small dog will usually require a smaller, maybe even softer chew toy, whereas a small chew toy is dangerous for a big dog who could swallow it whole and risk having it lodge in his throat, stomach, or intestines, requiring emergency medical attention.

Rawhides can be a good choice or a bad choice, depending on your dog. For dogs who are thorough chewers, they can be a good choice. For dogs who inhale treats whole, they are a bad choice because, again, they can get stuck. If you do feed rawhides, make sure the ones you buy are made in America, not just packaged in America. Chinese-made rawhides have shown up with some pretty scary chemicals on them.

Cooked bones, on the other hand, are never a good choice. Cooked (including smoked) bones have a high tendency to splinter, and those spinters can wreak havoc in your dog’s mouth and in his gut. This means no cooked bones from your kitchen, no turkey carcass, no hambones, no steak bones. It’s just not worth the risk.



5. Toys to chase. Fetch is a great game to play with your dog. Many of them love it, and it is terrific exercise. Whether it is a frisbee, a ball, or any of the wide variety of toys available for fetch games, time spent playing with your dog is good for him and good for you as well. Dogs who do not naturally fetch can be taught to do so. Some dogs love to retrieve in water, and that is even better exercise for them if you have a safe swimming hole available.

But chasing can come in other forms, too. Many dogs like a toy referred to as a flirt pole. This pretty much amounts to a giant cat toy for dogs. A rope run through a long piece of PCV pipe that acts as a handle with a fun chase-able toy on the end. It’s like a giant fishing rod, basically, and a lot of dogs go crazy for it (especially terriers and herding breeds). It allows you to exercise a dog in a relatively small space without having to exert yourself very much. This game should not be played with dogs who have joint issues or who do not know how to release a toy that they’ve grabbed onto, but it is also a terrific way to teach self-control (wait to chase the toy until told, lie down and stay to make the game start). So. Much. Fun.

6. A cozy bed. There is a huge variety of dog beds available for purchase, ranging from cheap to ridiculously expensive. They come in soft and cushy, firm, orthopedic, even heated. Or, you know. The couch and your bed work too, depending on your preferences. But older dogs especially tend to enjoy a soft place to park their bones, and it is easier on their bodies to have something cushioned and soft.

Stuffed Kongs make dogs happy.

Stuffed Kongs make dogs happy.

7. Food-dispensing toys. Food-dispensing toys are a great way to occupy your dog’s mind, as well as to slow down his eating. There are two basic types of food-dispensing toys available- toys that dogs have to work to unstuff (Kong), and toys that dogs have to push, shove, bat around, or otherwise manipulate to cause the food to come out (Kong Wobbler, Buster Cube, Tricky Treat Ball, Tug-a-Jug).

The right toy to choose is the one your dog likes. Kongs are great because they can be pre-stuffed with tasty snacks and frozen for a time when you need your dog to take a break and do something quiet. And they can be stuffed with all kinds of different foods! Think outside the box! Yogurt works great, small amounts of peanut butter, canned food, fruits and veggies, kibble soaked in broth- anything that is soft and will freeze well. You can also stuff large, hard-to-remove treats like biscuits into Kongs that the dog will have to work and manipulate to get out, but some dogs are easily frustrated by this and give up quickly.

Dogs need to eat, and most dogs love to eat. Using that most basic drive as a way to exercise your dog’s brain is a simple way to enrich his life.

8. A warm jacket when it’s cold outside. Many dogs don’t mind the cold, but some breeds and some individual dogs are, well, delicate flowers and appreciate protection from the cold. Dogs with smooth, sleek coats like Dobermans, Whippets, and even Boxers and pit bulls tend to be more bothered by low temperatures. Smaller dogs are also more likely to mind the cold, in part because they have a smaller body mass, but also because their bodies are closer to the snow on the ground.

Like with beds, there are an endless array available. Simple tshirts and sweaters, fleece jackets such as Fido Fleece, and more expensive outwear such as Hurtta, Foggy Mountain, and Ruffwear. And if you are handy with a tape-measure and a sewing machine, there are so many adorable fleece prints available to make your own snuggly jackets.

Puppy class is so much fun!

Puppy class is so much fun!

9. Training Classes. Training classes are a great way to bond with your dog and learn how to teach him what you want from him. Puppy class is especially important and FUN! but it is never too late to join a class. And there are more than just obedience sit, down, stay, come, walk on a leash classes out there. Dog sports are exploding, and there is something out there for every dog. Does your dog love to play ball? Maybe check out flyball classes. Enjoy running and jumping and climbing? Agility might be a good match for you. Does your dog love to sniff? Nosework classes are a lot of fun for dogs. There are classes for teaching tricks, there are classes for teaching manners, there are classes for learning to dance with your dog. Heck, I’ve even seen classes that combine yoga with dogs (dubbed “Doga”). There are a number of training schools around- take a look to see if there is something out there that sounds like fun to you.

10. Daily Exercise and Enrichment. As the saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog. Our dogs, even older ones, need daily exercise and enrichment in their lives to keep them happy, healthy, and fit. A walk around town to let your pup sniff all the smells, a hike in the woods, a good game of fetch or hide and seek, or ten minutes training a new trick are all options that help give your dog what he needs. Continued mental stimulation is important in young dogs to help tire out their brains so they are less likely to make up their own fun games that you won’t like so much, and it is important into the golden years to help your dog maintain her capabilities. Use your imagination, think outside the box, and above all- have fun with your furry friend. After all, that’s why we have them!

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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in Behavior, Dogs, Just for Fun


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Equipment options for walking the unruly dog.

In my opinion, teaching a dog to walk politely on a leash is one of the most difficult and frustrating things of all. Oh I’m sure there are dogs who arrive in life willing to trot along casually by their owners’ sides, but in the world I live in, those dogs are few and far between. Over the years, a wide variety of training equipment has been developed to help people control their dogs and be able to walk them safely and more comfortably. No gadget or specialized collar is a cure for lack of training, but they can be a great bandaid to help you walk your dog while you work on teaching him how to be polite on a leash.

(For help with training the skill, I refer you to your local obedience trainer, or to Dr. Sophia Yin’s excellent articles.)

The most common and familiar collar available is the flat collar. They come in a huge variety of colors, widths, patterns, materials, with plastic buckles or metal ones. You can buy one for a couple of bucks or you can spend hundreds for a customized one-of-a-kind creation. In my opinion, these collars are best for holding your dog’s identification tags. Every dog should wear id in case of emergency. If he gets away from you, even if he is microchipped, it is better to have visible identification on your dog, both so that he looks “owned” and so that people can quickly get in touch with you instead of having to track down a vet, shelter, or police officer who has a microchip scanner available. Unless the dog is impeccably well behaved, I don’t love seeing leashes hooked to these collars for the simple matter that if there is some kind of equipment failure and the collar breaks or becomes unbuckled due to pressure, your dog is naked and without identification.

Martingale or “limited slip” collar.

A great way around this risk is a martingale collar attached to the leash and used only for walking. Your dog still wears his collar with tags, but a second collar is added for walks. Sometimes called “Greyhound” or “limited slip” collars, these collars don’t have buckles. Instead they are made of loops of fabric that are adjustable to the size of your dog’s neck, and tighten a limited amount when the dog pulls, which prevents a dog with a small head from slipping out of a collar if he puts on the brakes. I have seen so many dogs get loose due to improperly-fitted flat collars, and it’s scary and dangerous! Not to mention preventable. A martinage collar is easy to put on and take off, comes in lots of different colors and varieties, and can remain simply attached to your dog’s leash when you aren’t walking him.

A martingale collar isn’t going to do much to help you, though, if your dog pulls like a freight train. For dogs like that, there are numerous types of gadgets that can help you keep your arm in its socket. Some work better than others for each individual dog. Some are kinder and gentler. Some can do damage to your pet if not used correctly.

The old-fashioned answer would be a good old choke chain. The handler jerks the leash to tighten the chain, and the resulting discomfort is supposed to teach the dog not to pull. I see so many dogs choking themselves as they drag their owners along behind them. Choke chains come in more than just chain now- there are leather ones, nylon ones, whatever you’d like. But they all work the same way, which is usually “not that well”. They also present a danger to the trachea of the dog who is pulling pulling pulling, and also to the eyes, as pulling and choking increases the pressure inside the eyeball. Not a big concern for some dogs, but definitely a concern for other breeds.

Properly fitted “prong” or “pinch” collar.

Which brings us to the “pinch” or “prong” collar. These collars are again limited slip, but made of metal prongs that  tighten and pinch the dog’s skin between them to cause him discomfort and discourage him from pulling. These collars should not be used for leash-jerking corrections, and they should not ever be used on fearful dogs or puppies. Punishment in training always has the potential for fall-out that you didn’t intend, and it is very easy to make a dog’s aggression toward other dogs or people or children or what have you much worse by creating an even more unpleasant association for him. That said, in a confident, bold dog who is not acting out due to fear, but rather just big and strong (especially with a smaller or weaker owner), these collars can give you “power steering”.

They must be fitted correctly for safety purposes. A prong collar should always fit snugly but not tightly around the middle of the neck. It should not gap away from the neck at all, as this can cause injury when the collar tightens (or to anybody who somehow gets a hand caught under the collar). It should never EVER be put on or removed over the dog’s head. You do not want those prongs anywhere near the eyeballs! Instead, two links should be separated and then rejoined with the collar around the dog’s neck. Pinch collars should not be used for handler corrections, but rather for self-corrections from the dog himself. When I pull, it is unpleasant, so I shouldn’t pull.

These collars work great on some dogs. Other dogs, however, will just continue to pull through the discomfort. A pinch collar is not an excuse to not train your dog by rewarding him for what you want. Rather, it is a tool to help you keep physical control of him during the training process.

In recent years, there has been a push toward non-painful pieces of equipment which encourage or prevent dogs from pulling. The first one to come on the market was the head-halter. There are a number of brands available– Gentle Leader and Halti are the most common– and the idea is similar to that as with horses. If you have control of the dog’s head, you have control of the dog. Head halterThis is an absolutely fantastic piece of equipment to use if you have an aggressive dog (either toward other animals or toward people) because it gives you control of his face, and in the case of the Gentle Leader, allows you to close his mouth. But they can also be great for dogs who pull, because the dog can’t really brace against the head halter and drag you along.

The downside is that a lot of dogs do not care for feeling of a head halter. To do it properly, you need to take time to get your dog used to it, using rewards (usually food) to help him make a positive association and grow accustomed to it. Most people don’t do this. Some dogs adjust, others do not. Some dogs are very stressed by having a harness on the face. Others just paw repeatedly or try to rub their face on the ground on against people to try to get it off. Care must also be taken to not jerk the leash and to prevent the dog from lunging, as the force of hitting the end of the leash and jerked around to the side can cause the potential for neck injury.

But it is certainly a good tool to be aware of. It is not a training device that works on pain or discomfort, just on handler control. It is best used in conjunction with training, with the goal being weaning the dog off the head halter in the end.

Another piece of “more humane” equipment that has become popular in recent years is the front-clip harness.

Front clip "Easy Walk" harness.

Front clip “Easy Walk” harness.

 Unlike the typical dog harness, the front clip harness (and again, there are a variety out there- “Sense-ation” and “Easy Walk” among them) has a leash ring at the front of the harness, in the middle of the dog’s chest. The idea behind this is that when the dog pulls against the leash, the sideways pressure causes them to turn inward and back to the owner. These harnesses can work wonderfully with some dogs, though in my opinion they work better on more lightly-built dogs. Some dogs just hunker down and pull through the sideways motion, which is completely counter-productive. They also should be used with care on any dog who has aggression issues, because a harness gives you no control at all over the dog’s head (and biting parts). Front-clip harnesses are frequently better tolerated than their head-halter counterparts, and there is really no introductory period. Just pop one on your pup and you’re ready to go.

Traditional harnesses are a fantastic choice for little dogs, and there are a wide variety of stylish options to choose from. Little dogs are more prone to problems like collapsing trachea, which can be aggravated by pressure on the neck. They also prevent increased pressure on the eyes from straining against the leash, which is an especially good thing in the small dogs with prominent eyes. Any dog with a history of neck problems is best off in a harness, whether a regular one or a front-clip one.

But for a medium to large healthy dog who pulls and pulls on the leash? Well, just keep in mind that sled dogs wear harnesses to pull sleds. A harness lets them get good leverage, and doesn’t give the owner a whole lot of control. For dogs who walk politely on leash, a harness is fine, and there is the occasional dog who walks better with a regular harness, but for the most part, they are not a good choice if you have a dog with leash-walking manners issues. As with everything, care should be taken to make sure the harness is fitted properly. You want it to be snug enough that the dog cannot back out of it or get a leg hung up in it, but loose enough that it is not rubbing and causing sores in the dog’s “armpits”.

Dogs walking politely on regular harnesses.

Dogs walking politely on regular harnesses.

And that concludes our overview of the different types of aids and equipment out there to help you control your overly-enthusiastic dog on walks. In the end, it all comes down to training, whether you use food treats to reward a loose leash, or the Be a Tree method in which you do not ever move forward if the leash is tight. Consistency is key, and it’s the need for absolute consistency that makes this a hard thing to teach. Remember, dogs don’t pull because they’re being bad, and if they’re pulling they typically do not “know better”. They pull because humans walk too slowly, because the world is fascinating, because they are excited, because they have a whole lot of energy to burn after snoozing on the couch all day. Hopefully these aids will help you be able to enjoy your dog more, and in turn will encourage to get your dog out on more walks, which will lead to healthier and happier lifestyles for both of you!


Posted by on December 12, 2013 in Dogs, Training


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The staff pets of White Oaks (or: why we do what we do)

One of the things I love most about working in a veterinary hospital is seeing day in and day out the bond between pets and their owners. We know you guys, and we know your four-footed friends, but you really don’t know ours. So I want to offer you this week a quick peek into the furry companions of some of our staff members.



Brittany shares her home with a Chocolate Lab named Dave and a cat named Doug, but the pet that has meant the most to her was the Black Lab, Winston, that her family got when she was nine. They grew up together. He was her best buddy; she was his favorite human. She felt like they were on the same level, that they had a connection like they did because they were “kids” growing up together. She spent her childhood chasing him around to all the neighbors’ houses that he went to visit, dressing him up in clothes, and in true Lab style, he pretty much ate any anything his eyes made contact with. He also loved to be outside and play “sticky stick”, more commonly known as “fetch”.

From Winston, she learned compassion toward animals as well as responsibility. That special bond with him led her to work in the veterinary field, and because of it, she understands the bond other people have with their pets, as well as the sometimes weird things that pets do, because Winston did the same. And she understands the great lengths people will go to to save or help their pets, because they truly are family, like children or brothers and sisters.

Winston left his mark in Brittany’s life. She’s had Labrador Retrievers ever since.



Katie B shares her home with a crew of four cats, two Border Collies, an elderly pit bull, a small brown dog, and a hamster named Tina. She is a dog person through and through. The dog who changed her life is her first pit bull, Luce, adopted from the shelter as a young adult, wild, reactive, dog-aggressive, and a complete whirling dervish on a leash. From Luce, she got her first taste of dog training, and it got her hooked. She learned how to work with a dog through rewarding good behavior and setting the dog up to succeed instead of trying to punish out the bad behavior. It took a lot of effort, but it was completely worth it, as Luce ended up with titles in multiple dog sports and two national rankings in APDT Rally Obedience, the first pit bull (and the second) to be nationally ranked. Luce was a “gateway dog”, as because of her, Katie got more and more involved in dog training and has now expanded her horizons from Rally and Obedience to Agility and Flyball. Luce’s favorite things are people, warm snuggly beds, hiking and swimming, and chew toys. Also, she enjoys making trouble whenever she can.

She has been an amazing teacher for Katie over the past ten years. She taught her that even “tough” and “stubborn” dogs do not need a heavy hand to be trained. She taught her to think outside the box and to be flexible and patient. She taught her that dogs don’t need to love other dogs, and that’s ok. She taught her that behaviors can be changed, even ridiculous over-the-top screaming reactiveness toward dogs. And she taught her to have a thick skin when it comes to the judgements that come from owning a “dangerous” breed of dog.

What she brings from all of this to her job? An understanding of dogs, behavior, body language, and how to work with difficult animals in the least stressful way possible. She understands the frustration and the heartache and the embarrassment on the part of the owners of “problem” dogs. She understands the strength of the bond between human and pet that is difficult to put into words. And she hopes that all of this makes her a resource for our clients in their journeys with their own pets.



Katie G, on the other hand, is a cat person through and through. She currently lives with three cats and a Pomeranian, and while every pet is special to her, Murphy is her favorite. She has only only had him for three years, but in that time he has been by her side through all her ups and downs, always ready to cuddle.

What made her choose him? He dances when he’s happy. His hind legs do little ballerina toe touches while he purrs up a storm and it is adorable and irresistable. He is always ready and wanting to cuddle, and his favorite spot, as you might guess from the picture, is around her neck as she is reading or watching television.

Murphy enjoys spending time watching the two very active new kittens in the house, and at times he gets in the spirit himself and darts around the house like he’s had five cups of coffee. And he LOVES laying right next to the fireplace for hours, soaking in the warmth.

Murphy has taught Katie most of all about unconditional love. She has never had a cat who was so attached to her, so constantly wanting to cuddle, and always happy to see her when she gets home. Her love for him helps her to connect with clients at work. She knows how much she loves him and how she would do anything for him. She loves being able to be one of the people providing the type of caring, supportive help that she would want for her own beloved kitty.

Jacey shares her home with two cats and two dogs, but she definitely considers herself a dog person. Oakley and Dakota are both special to her. Oakley and DakotaThey are her and her husband’s first pets as a married couple. Oakley is smart and attentive and Dakota is lovey and cuddly.

Dakota has her stuffed camel that she carries around. She cannot properly greet a person until she has her camel in her mouth. She used to have a wooly mammoth but she carried him too much…

The thing that this pair of dogs has taught her the most is the power of unconditional love. Even after a rough day at work, going home and being greeted by a wiggly Chocolate Lab and a happy tail wagging Border Collie makes the day so much better.



Pam is a cat person through and through. She and her husband currently live with four adult cats, two adorable kittens, and a very brave finch. Pam’s heart-cat, though, is no longer with her. He was a gray and white Domestic Shorthair cat that she adopted from the Humane League once upon a time. When she picked him out, he was just sitting in his cage with his paws tucked under him, looking very cute. At home he was the most destructive kitten ever (and excellent at breaking things) but he grew into an extremely social, easy-going and friendly cat. He loved to play “footsie” under the door and he liked stealing Cap’n Crunch from her husband’s cereal bowl.

But what he mostly gave Pam was his unconditional love, and that relationship is one that she brings to her work with the clients and pets she sees every day in her work. She fully understands the bond between the owner and the pet, and that pets are a true part of the family if you allow them to be. It’s not “just a cat”. It’s a family member.

Chester is gone now, but Pam keeps him close with a picture on her kitchen counter and a beautiful tattoo on her shoulder.



Lori considers herself to be both a cat and a dog person, but she currently lives with two dogs, 1 cockatiel, and some fish. Her favorite pet is a Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever mix named Jeter. He has been the most disciplined dog her family has ever owned. He is her buddy, following her everywhere she goes and wanting to please her.

Jeter is a boy who loves to go for walks. He doesn’t say no to food ever. He eats everything from bananas to watermelon to pickles!

Unconditional love is what Jeter has given to Lori. No matter how she feels or how he feels, he is always there wanting to please her and be by her side. It makes her appreciate animals so much more to have such a special one in her life, and Lori’s relationship with Jeter helps her better understand what pet owners are dealing with and where the compassion for their beloved four-legged family members is coming from.

Dr. Lauren definitely counts herself as a dog person. She and Dr. Ron own two Golden Retrievers, Callie and Cooper. But the dog who was most special to her was another Golden named Buckley. Buckley was the only puppy born from a breeding between her other two Goldens, Beckett and Brooke, which was fortunate because he was diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 16 months. He lived to the age of 6 1/2 despite dealing with lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma. He was instrumental in developing a human cancer treatment while being treated for his own cancer through Veterinary Oncology Services and the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. He did not have “traditional” chemo the whole time and lived a good life, acting like a normal dog through the five years of on again off again treatments.



Buckley loved hiking and playing ball, romping in the snow, and special treats like spaghetti-os, pizza crust, and the occasional Wilbur Bud. He taught Dr. Lauren about living life to its fullest every day, about unconditional love, about trust, and about perserverance. Because of Buckley’s influence, Dr. Lauren became interested in treating other pets with chemo and because she has been there, she can truly empathize with the emotions that clients go through while their own pets are being treated.

Buckley’s loss was very hard on Dr. Lauren. She spent his last weekend at home with him, treating him with IV fluids, and missing a family member’s wedding. She keeps his ashes along with the ashes of all their other dogs, and has a special stone in the yard commemorating him. It took her some time to grieve and heal after his loss before bringing another dog into their family. She wanted to be sure she was ready to fully commit to a new family member.

We hope that you enjoyed this glimpse into the hearts of our staff members and their experiences with their own pets. Every day we are honored to share in the lives and bonds of our clients and their pets. We thought it would be a nice change to allow you a glimpse into our own lives with our pets. We would love it if you would share your own experiences with special life-changing pets in the comments here or on our Facebook page.

Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your and your pets’ lives.

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Posted by on December 4, 2013 in Cats, Dogs, Just for Fun


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