Letter: Thanks to the Hastings Veterinary ClinicWe wanted to express our appreciation for the wonderful staff at our own Hastings Veterinary Clinic, in particular Dr. Bahr and Dr. Brown. They have taken care of our dogs for years, and have always been professional and compassionate.
We wanted to express our appreciation for the wonderful staff at our own Hastings Veterinary Clinic, in particular Dr. Bahr and Dr. Brown. They have taken care of our dogs for years, and have always been professional and compassionate. At all times their devotion and dedication to their patients is evident, but never more so than when our beloved elder dog, Turquoise, had to be put to sleep. Our good old girl had been in the family for twelve years, but her loss was nothing less than dreadful, and the one light in the gloom was how hard Drs. Bahr and Brown (aided by their terrific staff) worked to treat her pain, alleviate her symptoms, and finally to bring a peaceful end to her suffering.
From Dr. Bahr’s instant understanding that something was very wrong ("This isn’t the Turquoise I know.") to Dr. Brown’s call a day later to ask if we had a special treat Turquoise wouldn’t be able to resist, they were beyond thorough. Turq wasn’t eating, and that was the most alarming symptom. This was a dog who could never refuse a snack. Or a meal. Or another snack. The thought of her averting her gaze from savory snacks was foreign to us. We literally could not picture it; it was like trying to picture her juggling bowling pins.
That’s when we found out how terrific the Hastings Veterinary Clinic was. See, all those years our girl was healthy and only seen routine checkups. But when she was dying, they went out of their way to give her extra attention. The whole staff liked her, in particular Dr. Bahr, who was always pleased to find Turquoise didn’t associate shots and blood tests and, um, checking vitals (she did NOT like the thermometer) with him; our girl was always delighted to see him. And that was a good thing, that was a wonderful thing to know, but it was the smallest part of the story. In the time she was at the clinic she was cuddled, soothed, tucked in, and made much of. And Dr. Brown, worried about her appetite, saved some meatballs from her own lunch to tempt Turq. So when she called wondering about special treats, we told her there wasn’t one thing in our fridge Turq would have liked more than savory meatballs from a vet who didn’t get a whole lunch because she wanted to help her patient.
Seeing Turq was a shock, but also a comfort: she was dreadfully weak and couldn’t get up to greet us. But she was lying in a quiet, peaceful room and had been cuddled into a plush blanket so sweetly and carefully a passerby assumed it was our blanket, and our tuck-in. Our kids made much of her as we stepped into the next room to talk to Dr. Brown. She explained our options: keep trying to treat the symptoms (the veterinary equivalent of the little Dutch boy trying to stave off a flood), take her to the University of Minnesota’s outstanding pet hospital for tests and procedures that were more invasive than what she’d already endured, or say good-bye to our friend for all time.
We discussed all three, especially the hospital because it tempted us the most. But in the end we couldn’t reward years of loyalty and love with a painful trip to a place she had never seen, a place where she would be terrified: the strangers, the sharp smells of alcohol, the noises from the other animals, the bright fluorescent lights. All for an outcome that had a vanishingly small chance of being happy.
We chose the latter, and as Dr. Brown prepared the necessary drugs she asked respectful questions: would we like to stay with Turq as she slipped away? Yes, thank you, we would. Would any of the family like to have time alone with her before the end? Yes, thank you. Would anyone like to step outside while this was happening? No, but we appreciate the thought. And did we want to leave or stick around for a little while, because in her experience when family members remained for a bit once their pet died, it made closure a little easier. We could stay as long as we wanted. No one would kick us out so they could haul our dead dog away and use the room for the next patient. The bill? We could pay that later; they didn’t need to have it in their hands right that minute. Or even that day. When all questions and concerns had been addressed, Dr. Brown administered the appropriate drugs. Turq’s eyes began to close and in seconds she was lying peacefully on a warm snuggly bed made for her by a compassionate clinic employee. In seconds our friend was gone.
We did the best we could during the ordeal, as did the clinic, but still: that week sucked. But we are thankful to the clinic, whose staff turned something awful into something less awful...we are more thankful than we could ever, ever say.
Anthony and MaryJanice Alongi