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Butterfly is losing her vet, again

 

Butterfly goes to the clinic at the shelter that rescued her in the first place, and she has a wonderful veterinarian. Her doctor is the kind of person who walks around with a kitten on her shoulder all day, to keep an eye on the kitten’s well-being while she’s tending to the rest of her patients. Despite her many patients, this doctor answers emails about Butterfly’s various health issues, and recognizes us when we come in to pick up refills at the pharmacy, and always asks after Butterfly’s health.

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Butterfly’s first day at home, way back when.

The vet emailed us to let us know that she, and her relatively new husband, will be moving out of town, and she wanted to have a last visit with Butterfly, and set her up with a new vet at the clinic, to ensure continuity of care. I’ve never met a doctor-for-humans like this, let alone a veterinarian who, working at a clinic rather than in private practice, can’t be making a ton of money.

Butterfly is an expensive dog. She is twelve-and-a-half years old and a pure bred Lhasa Apso, with heart disease and diabetes, bright blue cataracts, and terrible teeth. The clinic partially subsidizes her twice yearly echocardiograms and vet visits, but we pay for all of her medication and diabetes supplies, and anything over two visits a year. Miss Butterfly takes three pills twice a day, gets her blood tested twice a day, and gets insulin shots twice a day. I’m not even counting the huge quantities of peanut butter and chicken treats that make the meds go down easy. So having a doctor who tries to minimize extra costs, while advocating for the best possible health care for Butterfly, is a godsend.

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“Any more medication Grandma?”

Cricket has had the same reliable doctor since she was eight weeks old, and it is wasted on her. She needs to be held in place by a vet tech to have her ears checked and her nails clipped, no matter how well she’s been cared for in the past. The vet techs have, often, had to put a muzzle on her for checkups, though it rarely stays on long. We brought Cricket along for one of Butterfly’s vet visits at the clinic, because Cricket ran out the door of the apartment before we could catch her, and Cricket could not stop barking. She’s used to the small waiting room at her doctor’s office, with the African grey parrot who tries to keep her calm. The crowded cacophony of dogs and cats at the clinic was not her thing. I like it, and Butterfly likes it, because there are always new friends to meet, but for Cricket it was too much.

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“You want me to go to the vet, Mommy? How are you gonna make me?”

The positives of the clinic, affordability and solid care, have always seemed worth the inconveniences, like a long wait and talking to different secretaries every time we call. But this is the second vet we’ve come to trust and have had to lose. I don’t want to have to argue with a new vet about teeth cleaning (the anesthesia for which could kill her), or hear some stranger tell me not to expect Butterfly to live much longer (just shut up). But most of all, I’m going to miss feeling like there’s someone else out there keeping an eye on my baby. It’s more than just having a doctor with knowledge and skill and the ability to write prescriptions, it’s about having someone who loves my baby and cares about the quality of her life.

butterfly peanut butter dreams

Butterfly believes that peanut butter has magical powers of healing.

I’m sure we’ll adapt. Butterfly will still be nervous going to the vet, until she gets a chance to sniff the other dogs, and the new doctor will make too many assumptions about Butterfly’s prospects, until I’m able to set her straight. But we’re going to miss this vet a lot, and we have to mourn a little bit before we can move on to what comes next.

Cricket & Butterfly waiting for Mommy

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

92 responses »

  1. Thank you Rachel for your lovely rendition of Butterfly’s views on life. We also have a diabetic dog Priscilla, who has to have insulin shots twice a day, medication for her Cushings Syndrome and a Muffin’s Halo for her blindness ….. the list grows yet Priscilla takes it all in her stride. We love our animals a lot. jane in Australia

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  2. I hope Butterfly loves her new Vet. It is hard to change docs. Tide loves to go to the vet, I think it is because we are so boring here at home. He doesn’t even mind vaccinations.Woof, Butterfly, it will be okay, ask Tide.

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  3. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    A good vet is hard to find.

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  4. She’s a butterfly. She’ll fly right! Good luck!

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  5. Dexter was captivated but his attention deficit disorder kicked in; he apologizes. Comet was captivated through and through. He recommends coffee cake – the wrapper wasn’t as tasty – as an alternative to peanut butter. Give our regards to Butterfly and Cricket! A great vet is a valuable find. I have a clinic I’ve gone to for 3 years since the last one was all about the money and not about the care.

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  6. I know it is so hard to lose that extraordinary vet you know and trust and who knows your baby. Hoping you get one just as special, who will be good for and with you both.

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  7. I hope the new vet is as kind and caring- it is a hard transition when a vet you trust leaves, you lose not only a vet but a friend and as you said someone who has Cricket’s back as you do. I hope it goes easy

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  8. I know exactly how you feel! I too have a vet that goes above and beyond which is more than I can say for most of the “human” doctors or their staff I’ve encountered of late. Even though our pups might not “get it”, it’s so reassuring to have someone who’s judgement and opinions you value. I’d feel lost without mine and it would probably be the catalyst to make me list my house and get out of Dodge. I went through some pretty bad experiences because of my doctors and one horrid one from a former vet. As you said, they’re our babies.

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    • Maybe we can convince some of the good vets to start treating people too.

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      • Oh my word Rachel!!! I’ve thought along similar lines and as you might recall I’m a nurse. My vet treats my dog with dignity as opposed to “just an animal”. Very hands on whereas I go for yearly physical which is less than 10 minutes. If my senior dog has an “issue” that is an easy fix but requires anesthesia my vet looks at alternate solutions simply because of the effects anesthesia can have on her. I’ve known human docs who have no reservation about putting a 70 or 80 something patient under.
        There was a movie in the early 90’s with William Hurt about a pompous doctor who got a harsh lesson in humility when he developed a serious illness. I rarely watch movies or tv so not sure how I came to see it but very good.

      • I remember that movie! My brother was very lucky (though he didn’t see it that way at the time) because he had to have surgery before starting medical school and he learned a ton about being a patient, and the value of nurses, before ever being indoctrinated in the doctor mindset.

  9. We had a wonderful vet for 15 years and then she retired and sold her practice to a sister/brother/wife team who have two locations in town. They are even more wonderful than our old vet–if that is even possible. Rachel, I hope the new vet works out. You can spot, right away, those who really, truly love our babies. Butterfly, it is going to be ok, baby.

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  10. This is a heartwarming post; its so great to know that there are wonderful people out there in exctly the right job.

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  11. hairytoegardener

    I can empathize. I saw the same vet for my animals from 1988 until 2014 when I moved out of town. My old vet finally retired last year. He was so cool and wasn’t into it for the money either. He told you like it was, straight up, always. I’ve not found another vet to match him. Butterfly’s vet sounds terrific. What a loss. I hope the replacement turns out to be just as good.

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  12. Butterfly seems like she is all heart! I hope the new vet sees how special she is and it’s an easy transition…for both Butterfly and mom. 🙂

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  13. poor Butterfly…tell Momma you’re onto something with that peanut butter thing…it’s probably going in the next Kong treat for Briannag and Zeus(they are quite spoiled puppies)

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  14. Your post made me cry. I thought about my parents’ jack russel as I read your post. We had her for 17 years before she passed a couple of years ago. She had a lot of health problems in her later years, but she isn’t sufferring anymore. Thanks for sharing your story and I hope everything works out with the new vet. 🙂

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  15. Butterfly seems to have the right outlook – concentrating on treats and more treats. Hopefully her new vet will be sweet!

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  16. What a wonderfully caring soul your current vet is. Hope her replacement follows in her footsteps and that you, Butterfly and Cricket settle in with the new person very soon. Change can be so unsettling. Good luck 🙂

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  17. My ‘offspring’ have been lucky enough to have some great vets over the years. Hope Butterfly gets a choice one. And yes, peanut butter fixes most things.

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  18. Really hoping Butterly’s now-vet mediates who she is so well the transition is very smooth. And Butterfly is right about peanut butter.

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  19. I sounds like your current vet would not leave you with a vet that she didn’t trust to take over Butterfly’s care in a very caring fashion too. I’m sure she will explain everything to her about Butterfly’s condition so that there is a smooth transition and you won’t have to worry about convincing her to not do this or that. At least, I hope that is the case. And, Tippy agrees, peanut butter cures all!

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  20. A good vet is a treasure. We have an excellent clinic within walking distance of our home and the excellent vets and technicians there look after the health-care needs of our menagerie. Our dogs love to visit the clinic and when we walk over, they recognize the store-front and head right for the door.

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  21. It is so difficult when a Dr. moves away and the quest to find another is necessary. Dr.’s are so important and our pets rely on them.

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  22. Fingers crossed it will be someone more on par to the one you’re losing. At least you can establish historical info that will be helpful on your expectations and Butterfly’s health. Good luck! And you’re 100% right, I don’t think any of my doctor’s have been as caring and thoughtful as your soon to be lost vet. I wish her well, those kinds of people are worth their weight in gold!

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  23. We had a wonderful vet in Oregon who died very early of cancer. His widow places a memorial in the newspaper each year on his birthday and I have the chance to remember the wonderful care he took of our 17year old Westie until the end. He graciously told me we would know “when it was time” because she would tell us. She died in his arms before he even began any injection. Thanks. Dr. Tim.

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  24. Such loved girls you have!

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  25. 😦 Change is hard enough for us humans. I hope the new vet is amazing!

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  26. It’s pretty nice your old vet wants to ease the transition with the new vet! Best of luck

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  27. Best of luck! Hope all goes well for you and your beautiful doggie family.

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  28. If Butterfly and Cricket choose the next vet, it would be Dr. None.

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  29. Oh, my, it is hard to begin with a new vet! I’ve been going to the same clinic for 5 years now, but just this morning, I had to carry my 45-lb pit mix inside because she just sat down and started shaking. She’s a nervous wreck and totally commiserates with your pups’ vet-aversion.

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  30. It’s so hard finding a really good vet and always worrying to have to visit them! Good luck with your new one! Pip

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  31. I’m sorry you’re losing such a good vet; best of luck with the new one.

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  32. Hope Butterfly’s new vet will be just as caring.

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  33. We take finding a vet *very* seriously at our house, so I totally understand how you feel. Wishing you the best of luck with the new vet, who I am sure will feel your love for Butterfly and Cricket and be everything you’re looking for.

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  34. Here’s hoping your new vet is great for you Cricket and Butterfly. Sad to lose your lovely friendly caring vet. Your dogs are very lucky to have you.

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  35. I totally get this, and I’m so sorry. Maybe the new vet will be fabulous, too!

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  36. I was just listening to a researcher talk about the parallel between human and dog diseases. Diabetes, cancer, and obesity have skyrocket among both species.

    My daughter just lost her 13 year old canine companion when his diabetes could no longer be controlled. It’s heartbreaking.

    My heart goes out to you, and to Butterfly for having to endure all those shots and blood tests. It has to be very hard on both of you.

    I’m fortunate to have had the same fantastic vet for 24 years. He came by in the truck yesterday to give 5 dogs and 2 cats their 3-year rabies vaccines. I meant to take the camera out, bot didn’t do it. They were jumping around, happy to have company. He understands quite well that trying to fit 5 dogs and 2 cats into an exam room means the vet can’t get through the door. 🙂

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  37. We are grateful that Dylan has the same wonderful vet, who took care of Bumble until the end. Good luck with the transition…some extra peanut butter might help in the process.

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  38. Honey, too, has no reason to complain about her continuity of care, and it always seems to me that wealth and recompense run in inverse ratio to dedication and vocation – I rarely see the same Doctor twice, and most of the diagnoses I get can be gained more adequately on the internet. Long life to Butterfly. Snuffy, my son’s dog, will be nineteen next year: nineteen! We believe if she hits twenty she may qualify for a birthday card from The Queen.

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  39. Love your writing, Rachel. You’re a wonderful observer! (Have had to be careful not to call you ‘Sarah’ again – I don’t know why this is the first name that comes in my mind when commenting on your posts) 🙂

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  40. We may be losing our Vet, but it’s not as bad as your loss. Our vet closed down for three months during the holiday season last year and I had to go to another vet and she was very nice. If our vet goes I have at least the option of a vet who is well liked and good with animals – particularly dogs. At least I have an option that I am comfortable with.

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  41. Such personalities. Lol.

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  42. Your pups are so cute! A good vet is a treasure. I’ve had mine for over 20 yrs. Also had a dog with diabetes. You may already do this, but I’d suggest reading the labels on the food & treats. I was surprised at how many had so much sugar/corn syrup etc. in them. Thankfully my pup didn’t even feel the insulin shots, even though he had to have 2 a day. Sadly he developed other issues and I said goodbye last year.

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  43. Well said. Good vets are treasures. When they move way it is a loss to all the families who have come to trust them and rely on them. Hope the new vet learns from the departing one on how to be a true doctor to Butterfly, Cricket and all the other patients.

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