By: Andy Roark, DVM
In veterinary medicine, we all see pets that change us in lasting ways. Dolley, a Bernese Mountain Dog, was one of those patients for me.
Dolley was a dog that could be described as pure gold, but she always got sick in the strangest, most frustrating ways imaginable. Months would pass and I would see Dolley on a weekly basis to recheck some strange health problem. My only article ever to get into Clinician’s Brief was written about her ear hematomas and my endless struggle with them. She was a wonderful lemon.
Dolley was also one of those patients who makes you think “Oh, thank God her family is so incredibly patient and understanding.” They were a joy to work with, and I was beyond thankful for them and their positive outlook on many occasions.
Three years ago, I moved 500 miles away from Dolley and her family, but I still think about her whenever I see a Bernese Mountain Dog. Today I learned that she lost her fight with lymphoma earlier this week.
I’m obviously very sad about Dolley’s passing. It made me happy to think that this joyful, accident-prone goof-ball was out enjoying the world after all the work her family and I had put into her. Now that happiness will be bittersweet. Still, Dolley’s owners amaze me.
When they wrote to tell me her diagnosis, their tone was upbeat. They didn’t open by talking about their fears or sorrows. They started by reminding me she had reached the ripe old age of 10, and no one ever expected her to happily go that long.
Their optimism has always inspired me. As I read back through their emails today, I realized that, while Dolley was beyond wonderful, her owners’ outlook on life and pets is what really impacted me. I hope I never forget their lessons on patience and positivity. Some things will always be out of our control, and some people and pets we love will just be medical lemons. Putting aside fear and frustration to appreciate what we have is never easy, but they’ve convinced me it’s always worth it.
I’ll miss you Dolley… but on the upside… there are no ear meds in heaven.