PAW PRINTS ON OUR HEARTS

by Gigi McWhirter

Those of us working in the field of veterinary medicine face a full realm of emotions throughout the day. There are days when an animal comes to our office who we have known since he or she was born – sometimes even born in our office or delivered out in the field by one of our veterinarians. That doctor may have even assisted that pet with its first breath of life and will now be there for the last.

While we deeply care for all of the animals who cross our office threshold, there are a few who have a super special place in our hearts. Like my darling “boyfriend” Loki. Loki loved coming to the office so much, that when his owners were reviewing their weekly schedule, they had to spell the word “V-E-T” or he would make them crazy, running to and from the door until he got to get into the car and arrived at the animal hospital. Loki would check in at the front desk, roll over for belly rubs for the entire lobby full of humans and go to all of us in Receptionland for a hug and a tail wag. Loki was loved by a whole lot of others, too. He had a special caffeine-free “puppuccino” whenever they knew he was at the drive-thru window at Starbucks. Everyone at Lowe’s and Home Depot also knew him by name. One of our favorite “Loki moments” happened in our office when he was a pup. His human sister had a pet rabbit that came in not feeling well. The decision had to be made to send the bunny to heaven. Darling Loki would not leave the office until he said goodbye to his little friend. Loki was only three or four months old at the time.

Our sweet friend Loki, was an angel on Earth. And like all other angels – after realizing his work here on Earth was done – he went home. His precious body had been taken over by the horrible effects of diabetes. His people brought him into the office for his final goodbye and we all wept openly. As he was passing, he put his head on his human mama’s lap…and fell asleep. His final tender touch let her know that all was good. His purpose was complete. He had taught us all the meaning of unconditional love.

Dr. Dan Gilchrist, one of our associate vets, sent the following passage to me after one of my pets passed. I hope that these words will help you, should you need them.

“Jesus was asked to come to Lazarus who he loved, who was dying. He waited three days before he went, and by the time he arrived, Lazarus was dead. Even though he knew he was going to raise him from the dead, he wept. Why did Jesus tarry before going to Lazarus? There was something to be learned in those three days by Lazarus’ family. There are many things discovered between loved ones in the closing days of life. So it is with animals. We have a chance to reflect on our days together and share living memories, much more meaningful and sacred than the memories of the departed. Those last moments together are sacred, sweet memories to be cherished without regret. In the overall eternity of time, they were the blinking of the eye. The prompting of the spirit told you to wait just a little longer, and you obeyed. Be of good cheer. They are happy and safe now and so should you be. It’s what they would want for you. Go on your way rejoicing for all the wonderful times you had together. They were Heaven sent.”