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

04 Dec

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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