I love both the picture and the sentiment here. Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
In 2014, a young, vibrant woman named Brittany Maynard moved from the home in California she had known all her life so that she could die on her own terms in Oregon. Diagnosed with glioblastoma, arguably one of the most monstrous forms of cancer in this world, Maynard was willing to uproot her life, put her face out into the world, and share a most intimate decision with a universe of strangers in order to help people understand why someone might make the decision to hasten their death.
With little fanfare and no more than a small sidebar in the local newspaper, California has just become the fifth state to legalize assisted death for terminally ill patients. When I read it, on a plane on my way to deliver a talk on how we deal with death in our culture, I cried. I cried for Maynard, and for my mother (seen here on the left at last year’s Fourth of July bash), and for me.
Like so many others, I was transfixed with Maynard’s bravery in opening herself up to scrutiny and criticism. I put myself in her place and wondered what I would have done in the same situation. As a veterinarian who routinely helps people gently end the lives of pets suffering from terminal disease, the idea is not as challenging to me as it is to many. Especially with brain cancer- something that can rob you of the essence of who you are, turn you into someone else, snaking its way without order or reason through your control panel until your body can no longer hang on.
It is, to me, one of the most petrifying propositions out there.
So when my own young and vibrant mother was diagnosed with the very same cancer not five months after Maynard’s death, I fell to my knees and cried with grief, with anger, and above all with terror. For we, too, live in California, and my mother’s delicate health by the time she was diagnosed did not allow us the luxury of moving anywhere. Three weeks before her diagnosis, she was hiking though Red Rock. Three weeks after, she was bedbound. It happened that quickly.
I found myself preoccupied with fear for my mother, and worry about what I might do if her pain and suffering were unable to be controlled. Hospice and palliative care is excellent, but even that has its limits. People I thought were my friends sent me all sorts of horror stories they have heard about this cancer, expressing remorse at the news and the hope that my mother, ever so dignified, would not be one who would lose it all in the fugue of neoplasia.
I am really good at delivering an easy death. I have access to drugs no one else can get, and they are remarkable. We can give them to dogs and cats and rats and horses, but not to people. People have to ride it out on cocktails with middling degrees of efficacy. Our own perceptions make it worse: more than half of palliative care professionals have been accused of “euthanasia or murder” by providing adequate palliation to dying people, because euthanasia for a pet is mercy but for a human is dastardly. We have a long way to go in how we think of these things.
Fearing the Loss of Control
Instead of concentrating on my time with my mother, I spent most of it worrying- what would I do if the meds stopped working? How would I respond if she asked me to help her die? How could I refuse? How could I say yes? I had no reassurance that the necessary tools to control the situation were in my toolbox, and that took away from so many little moments I wish I could have back.
In the end, my mother’s cancer took mercy on her. She died quickly, as she wished, and never once complained of pain. She forgot things, felt sleepy, and drifted off oh so gently into that good night. It was a blessing, strange as it sounds. She willed herself to progress the way she wanted.
Had we been given access to life ending drugs, she would likely have filled the prescription.
Had she filled the prescription, secure in the knowledge that she had some control, she would not have taken them. There is no doubt in my mind. She didn’t need them. It doesn’t change my mind one bit as to their necessity, doesn’t make me any less inclined to cheer this new law and fight any who would seek its appeal. It would not have changed the medicine, but it would have changed the emotion, the fear, and the terror.
Because it’s not the inevitability of the outcome that matters in these situations, it’s the little bits of control we are given in times where so much of it has been taken away.
And that would have changed so much.
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The man who crushed the Keystone XL pipeline
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Dear Amazing Veterinary Technicians of the World,
It’s sad that you only get one week to celebrate you and all that you do. The unsung heroes, the client counselors, absorbers of abuse, veterinary emotional support offerers, and in general people without whom these clinics would fall to pieces.
I’d like to offer to you this week an open apology for the transgressions of my past years.
- I ate the last M&M. I’m sorry. I know now you probably hadn’t eaten in 12 hours and really needed it. I also know you figured it out and let it slide.
- I actually wasn’t being helpful when I said I would clean that kennel. Thanks for being gracious. I saw you go back in later and do it correctly.
- When you couldn’t hit a vein and asked me to and I said “Try again! Practice makes perfect!” that was only because I knew if you couldn’t hit it, there was no way I could.
- I now know that your gentle suggestions are not really suggestions. I should have listened the first 15 times you were right.
- If it were not for you I would have walked into 45 exam rooms with my sunglasses on top of my head.
- When I left the room after that really hard euthanasia to “see my next appointment,” I went into the back to cry and left you alone with that sweet elderly lady because you were better at this stuff that me.
- For all the times you took care of me and looked out for my mental well-being, I rarely did the same for you. If I did, it wasn’t enough.
These days I work solo, and to be honest every day I head out I wonder to myself if I couldn’t come up with a business model that allows me to have you along. Because I need you. As I sit in a living room looking in horror at a vein that will not cooperate, I need you.
When I see a little kid making a beeline for the syringes and I only have two hands when I need three, I need you.
When there is a mess and I need to be graceful and take care of it with no one noticing instead of asking the owners if they have any paper towels, I need you.
When it’s been a rough afternoon and I could use a friend to talk to, I need you.
You all are the heartbeat of the clinic. Thank you.
Early in the summer, we partnered with long time Bubby and Bean sponsor Gaia Conceptions for a giveaway to win $ 100 to spend in their gorgeous online shop, which features some of the most beautiful eco-friendly clothing around. Our regular readers know that we’ve teamed up several times over the years for giveaways for specific pieces of their clothing, but because these gift card giveaways are the most popular, we decided to do one again to celebrate fall and the soon-to-be start of the holiday season! One lucky Bubby and Bean reader is going to get a $ 100 gift card to spend at Gaia Conceptions, where you can choose from hundreds of styles of beautifully handmade, sustainable clothing custom created to your size, color choice, and fabric selection. Woohoo!
Use the form below, and/or, because the main methods of entering this giveaway (worth the most points) involve Instagram, you can also enter directly on IG, right here. There are several options for extra entries as well.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway will run through November 4, 2015 and is open to Bubby and Bean readers worldwide. All entries from the Rafflecopter form above and Instagram will be combined. A winner will be randomly chosen via Random.org and announced here shortly after the end of the giveaway.
Thanks again to Andrea and friends over at Gaia Conceptions for giving our readers the chance to win another gift card to their shop! Good luck!
I have 2 3yr old maltipoo and just got a 2mo old labradoodle whos really full of energy. My male is ok with her playing with him but its been 2 days and he keeps trying to hump her not letting her out of his sight. My other one is scared of her own shadow so shes very slowly coming around but growl and snarls at the lil one but wags tail as doing it… so not sure if thats a good thing. Id like to know best way to go about this. The puppy is bigger than my older dogs.
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NJ Vet, Dr. Lisa Aumiller, is 1 of 20 nominees for America’s Favorite Vet through the American Veterinary Medical Association, AVMA…
Dr. Lisa Aumiller of HousePaws Mobile Veterinary Service
in Mt. Laurel, NJ, has been nominated for America’s Favorite Vet. She’s the only vet from New Jersey, and I’m hoping to help her bring the title home!
The winner becomes the spokesperson on behalf of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, AVMF, which is the charitable arm of the American Veterinary Medical Association, AVMA. This is not a paid position! And there is not a vet I know more qualified and dedicated, and would wholeheartedly represent the betterment of care for animals, promote advocacy, and inspire fundraising more than Dr. Lisa Aumiller!
She is a mobile vet and is known for visiting sick pets past 11 pm, starting her schedule earlier than planned, and arriving in the worst snowstorms to make sure her patients are seen. Additionally, Dr. Lisa has two hospital facilities if parents prefer to bring their pets for traditional vet visits.
Her practice focuses on integrative care and wellness, and with the latest technology, she is able to perform cold laser therapy, acupuncture, x-rays, ultrasound, and the like, for pets in the comfort of their own homes!
Dr. Lisa personally speaks to parents, texts and emails them, yes, personally, from her cell phone if need be! Do your pet parents have their vet’s cell phone number? Do you? I do… that’s right! When she is the veterinarian of a furry baby in my care, I can reach out to her anytime. What vet does this??? Dr. Lisa Aumiller of HousePaws Mobile Vet does : )
She is also most charitable and benevolent with providing medical care to animals, working with over 40 rescues, and is so extremely giving of her time with outreach, raising awareness about wellness and nutrition, holding complimentary educational seminars for pet parents, pet sitters and professionals, free dental screenings and wellness events for pets in the community, and workshops for children. She held a Martin Luther King, Jr. community service project bringing everyone together to bake healthy treats for homeless animals and a workshop making environmentally-friendly toys to donate to animals in shelters, and continuously sponsors similar events. She brings live animals and education to children at schools, teaching respect and proper care of animals, provides extensive, complimentary medical care for animals in a makeover project for homeless dogs in a collaborative effort with groomers to facilitate adoptions, and does microchipping for donations, while the community chooses a different nonprofit charity to receive the donations each month. And for years, Dr. Lisa has been writing an informative column for the county newspaper and answering parents’ questions.
Dr. Lisa’s positive and upbeat personality inspires the community to volunteer; families come together for fun days, pets are welcome and spend quality time with their parents, and everyone enjoys fundraising endeavors! She’s currently sponsoring events to bring the first local dog park to Riverton, NJ, and strongly encourages pet-friendly social activities by hosting doggie dips for furry babies to enjoy a swim, Yappy Hours sipping Puptinis, and Pup and Me Yoga!
With her down-to-earth personality and philosophy of teamwork, you get to engage with Dr. Lisa and the incredibly friendly staff at HousePaws at the various events, not only when your pet is ill, so you connect on a personal level, feel much more comfortable and truly cared about in time of need!
Year round Dr. Lisa and HousePaws Mobile Veterinary Service raise a tremendous amount of money for The Boo Tiki Fund, a non-profit charity where parents may apply for a grant for veterinary care to avoid having to put their beloved pet to sleep, to end suffering by improving their quality of life, even preventing a pet being relinquished to a shelter because a family cannot afford medical care. And that’s even just a portion of what I’m aware!
My personal experience with Dr. Lisa Aumiller is that she never says no!!! Her practice has been the main sponsor for South Jersey’s Annual Pet Wellness Symposium I organize and host, and she immediately said yes when asked if she was interested in becoming the certified vet for trainings when a Fido Bag is donated, another voluntary position! For the past few years, Dr. Lisa has been providing first responders the necessary training to utilize pet-specific oxygen masks and Animal CPR / first aid so animals now have a chance to survive a fire or disaster. I’ve also brought her animals from the street when other vets recommended euthanasia and she provided life-saving surgery, knowing I hadn’t even begun to raise donations yet. Another animal I literally took from a cage at another vet’s office who they scheduled to be euthanized! Dr. Lisa allowed him to live at her hospital until I found a home. And who do you think took care of him on the weekends and evenings when the staff were off? That’s right, Dr. Lisa Aumiller herself! I’ve emailed, texted, called Dr. Lisa countless occasions regarding my personal pet as well as pets in my care in the evening, weekends, holidays, and she always took the time to answer my questions and ensure the pets received appropriate care.
I thank her every opportunity I get for always taking the time to help because not only did it benefit the animals in my care, but Dr. Lisa helped me to become a more educated and skilled pet sitter!
Too good to be true, right? That’s what I thought when I first met her… But it continued and just gets better and better; hence, her earning the title of a “Veterinary Angel” with me as well as so many others!Although you may not live in New Jersey, I highly recommend you vote for Dr. Lisa as there is no doubt she will inspire other vets and set a precedence that being a veterinarian doesn’t stop at treating animals… it’s just the beginning! Animals desperately need Dr. Lisa Aumiller’s voice as the AVMF’s spokesperson; she needs your vote to make it happen. Again this is not a paid position, rather, an extension of a vet’s dedication to outreach and education!
A four-legged Fred Astaire whose paws dance over the grass whenever he romps in the park, Tango is dreaming of the day when he will waltz around with a forever pet parent to call his own. A 5-pound…
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