by: Andy Roark DVM, MSc


On Sunday, June 7, veterinarian Austin Ayars died in an accident on his family farm. I’ve never even met him, but I have struggled with his death ever since I heard about it.


Dr. Austin Ayars [Photo]


Dr. Ayars was only 34 years old when he passed away. One of my good friends went to veterinary school with him and says he was a wonderful man. He laughed a lot, sang goofy songs, and was passionate about two things: his wife (a veterinary technician) and veterinary medicine. His two children are both under the age of 5, with a third due to arrive in July.


By all accounts, Dr. Ayars was deeply happy being a vet, a husband, and a father. He was one of the “good guys” who give veterinarians the great reputation we all enjoy. Our world seems a little bit darker without him in it.


To be honest, his death has affected me so profoundly because it lays bare a lie that I tell myself all day, everyday. Maybe you do the same. The lie goes like this: “I will live until I’m ready to die.”


Dr. Ayars could have been you or me. He was blessed with so many gifts, relationships, and accomplishments. His tragic passing is a stark reminder that nothing in this life is guaranteed.


So often, we act as if our “real life” will begin in the future. We tell ourselves, “When I retire, I’ll be happy,” or “When I pay off this debt, I’ll have it made,” or “When I have kids, I’ll be fulfilled.


No matter how compassionate or gifted or happy or loved we are, all that is certain is this moment. No matter how bright our future is, the one thing we have right now — the thing we must not take for granted — is the present.


As we all reflect on the passing of a kind, generous, young family man, there are two things I hope you will consider.


First, A YouCaring campaign has been set up to raise money to help Dr. Ayars’ family after his passing. Any donations will be passed directly to Dr. Ayars’ wife, Adrienne, to help with expenses in the coming months and with the burden of suddenly being a single mother and young widow. If you would like to give, you can do so here:




Second, you owe it to yourself to be happy today. There is great truth to the saying “Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.” Too many of us — myself included — live our lives feeling that we are preparing for the future rather than embracing the present. Let’s all take a moment to count our blessings, be grateful for what we have, and enjoy those we love and care about.


Every day is a gift, and nothing about the future is certain. In keeping the Ayars family in our thoughts and prayers, we pay respect to our colleague and we remind ourselves that life is happening right now, today, for all of us.