Our oldest cat, Powder, 16 or 17 years now, had to go to the vet today. Over the past few years, she has developed a thyroid problem and is now on the human equivalent of synthroid, so she’s checked periodically to make sure the dose is working. She also has an ingrown claw that needed to be remedied.
Our vet, Ira Grossman, retired from his NY practice some years ago and lived for a few years in our neighborhood. Then people found out he was a vet and started bringing their pets to him. He apparently realized he couldn’t retire and bought several acres of land a few miles from us and opened a clinic.
In the beginning, he was the only vet. Now he has half a dozen other vets working with him and his practice is open 24/7. It’s a walk-in clinic, which is great for cats, who often know when they’re bound for the vet and hide. His prices are reasonable and he’s one of those vets with a genuine intuitive grasp about animals and what ails them.
This morning, I arrived shortly before 10 and was delighted to find the waiting room deserted. I figured I would get in quickly. What I didn’t know was that a really huge dog was being tended to in one of the rooms and all of the vets and technicians were tending to his dog. A young woman stood off by herself, alternative crying and wiping away her tears and it turned out she was the dog’s owner. When the dog emerged from the back room, he was on a stretcher, the woman was sobbing, and her male companion looked to be on the verge of a breakdown.
As the stretcher passed by me, I realized just how huge this dog was and thought, for a moment, that it wasn’t a dog at all, but a mountain lion. His paws looked to be the size of a human head. While he was being tended to, a woman arrived with a beautiful black cat in a carrier and sat down next to me. She was upset and kept reaching inside the carrier to stroke her cat. I suspected she was here to have her cat put down.
Even though I had arrived before her, she got in to the examining first and that was when I knew her cat was here to be put down. Sure enough, the employee who checks everyone in came over to me and explained she’d sent the woman in first because her cat was going to be put down and she didn’t want the owner to have to sit forever in the waiting room, faced with the inevitable heartbreaking thing she faced.
Three years ago, I was in that woman’s position and sat sobbing in the waiting room because I was there to have my cat, Tigerlily, put down. This same employee came over to me and touched my arm and told me a friend of hers had died and come back and could now communicate with animals. “They come back,” she said. There was also a synchro involved in Tigerlil’s death that blew me away. (Click the Tigerlily link above)
When the woman finally emerged from the back room, her sunglasses in place, she carried her cat’s body in a carrier, and tears rolled down her cheeks. I knew she was going to bury her cat in her backyard.
So much life and death drama goes on in any vet’s office, but in Ira’s clinic, death is treated with respect not only for the animal, but for the human who loves it, who must ultimately make that decision.
While I waited, a black and white pug was taken in and out of X ray and his anxious owners sat together, visibly upset. He had a neck injury. Before he left, his human was given a bunch of different medications that Ira wanted to try before considering surgery.
When Powder and I finally got in to see one of the vets, we’d been there more than an hour,and really didn’t mind. I discovered that she’d gained nearly two pounds since beginning the thyroid meds and that the ingrown claw had been excised and that her paw would be bandaged for two days. Now she’s wearing a little pink boot.
Ira’s clinic, Palms West, is a rarity, a place where animals and their humans are tended to first and the bill is fair.
Recently, Megan took her new kitten to a franchise vet for her second set of shots. They tried to get her to repeat the first set of immunizations (more $) and when she said she would go elsewhere, they backed off. They also told her it would cost $300 to have Piper, the cat, fixed. Ira would cost a fraction of that. Other organizations do the procedure for a nominal cost. Or for free.
For so many of us, our pets are members of our families. When they flourish, so do we. When they hurt, so do we. Good vets understand this. Good vets, like good doctors, are rare treasures. They have been where you are. Emotionally, they get it. They get that love overwhelms everything else and don’t take advantage of it.
So here’s Powder, with her little pink boot, asleep behind my bookcase, perhaps planning her next life.