The Human-Animal Bond
Letters and Stories

The Veterinary Oath
A Shelter Christmas Story
"Murder Most Foul"

The following letter is from one of the bright young people who used to work at our clinic prior to getting into veterinary school.  This is from Terri who went on to Ross Veterinary College in the Caribbean in 2003.

If any of you have ever wondered why I am here, working to become a vet, well this dog is pretty much the epitome of why.

This boy showed up on my porch this morning looking for food.  All of the 
little spots you see on him are ticks and if you could look closer you would see that his skin isn't even visible through all of the smaller ticks under his fur.  His ears are clogged with parasites, his fur feels like a broom, and every single bone in his body juts out so far that he has sores from laying on the ground.  I can wrap my two index fingers and thumbs around his waist.  

His mucous membranes are practically white from anemia and he has 
absolutely no life in his eyes at all, just a sad, defeated look.   He cowers 
at the site of a leash or a stick, is terrified of my dogs who are smaller 
than him, and doesn't quite know what to think about being pet or talked to.

Now here is the kicker...This dog is not a stray.   There are a lot of 
people who feel that this is a perfectly acceptable way to keep animals.   
And not just here; this happens even back home.   I am not sure what I am going to do with this boy yet, in fact, I am not sure he's even going to 
last very long.  But I am certain of one thing:  He will NOT go back to the 
person he came from.  Hopefully after a few weeks he will be well enough to be adopted out.

Anyway, the purpose of this e-mail is not to make anyone sad but just to 
reiterate why I feel it is so important for me to be doing this and why I 
truly feel that this is my reason for being.  I know that I can't save every 
animal, but I can at least try to save the ones that find me and need help.

I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who have always been so 
supportive of me and of my desire to help animals and be a veterinarian.  

I know how much so many of you have done to help me get here, whether it was allowing me to bring a sick duck home and keep it in the tub, asking my professors to give me a little extra time and help to complete my coursework, looking after my horse while I go away to school, giving me a job as a tech or kennel help, flying to Puerto Rico to get my stranded ferret,  or simply telling me that I can, in fact, do this.  And even if I don't say how much I appreciate it often, I think it every day.  SO thanks to all of you.

Please send good vibes to my new dog friend...he needs as many as he can get right now.  By the way, he does need a temporary name so I don't have to keep calling him "Dog."  Any ideas???

The Veterinary Oath:

Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources, the promotion of public health and the advancement of medical knowledge. 

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. 

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence. 

"The Night 
Before Christmas"

A good read no matter what time of year.

Tis the night before Christmas and all through the town,
every shelter is full.. we're lost, but not found.

Our numbers are hung on our kennels so bare,
we hope every minute that someone will care.

They'll come to adopt us and give us the call,
"come here, Max, or Sparky, come fetch your new ball!"

But we sit here and think of the days..
we were treated so fondly.. we had cute baby ways.

Once we were little, then we grew and we grew..
now we're no longer young and we're no longer new.

So out the back door we were thrown like the trash,
they reacted so quickly.. why were they so rash?

We "jump on the children," "don't come when they call,"
We "bark when they leave us," "climb over the wall."

We should have been neutered, we should have been spayed,
now we suffer the consequences of the errors THEY made.

If only they'd trained us, if only we knew..
we'd of done what they asked us and worshipped them too.

We were left in the backyard, or worse, left to roam..
now we're tired and lonely and out of a home.

They dropped us off here and they kissed us goodbye..
"maybe someone else will give you a try."

So here we are, all confused and alone..
in a shelter for others who long for a home.

The kind workers come through with a meal and a pat,
with so many to care for, they can't stay or chat,

They move to the next kennel, giving each of us cheer..
we know that they wonder how long we'll be here.

We lay down to sleep and sweet dreams fill our heads..
of a home filled with love and our own cozy beds.

Then we wake to see sad eyes, brimming with tears..
our friends filled with emptiness, worry and fear.

If you can't adopt us and there's no room at the Inn..
Could you help with the bills and fill our food bin?

We count on your kindness each day of the year..
Can you give more than hope to everyone here?

Please make a donation to pay for the heat...
and help get us something special to eat.

The shelter that cares for us wants us to live,
and more of us will, if more people give.

--author unknown

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Intestinal problems: diarrhea, constipation, torsion, indigestion, and gas. Also pancreatitis, vomiting, esophagitis, colitis, parvo and other types of dysentery

Kidney Disease

Liver Diseases      

Metabolic Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease

Neural Problems and Diseases: Epilepsy, Rabies, Distemper, FIP, Paralysis, Tetanus, Seizures, Disc Disease, Toxoplasmosis & others

Obesity; new information and about Pfizer's new FDA approved treatment


Parasite Problems; Fleas, Ticks, Heartworms, Intestinal Worms, Mosquitos, Lice, Mites, and other welfare recipients

Poisons  Snakes, Insects, household chemicals, plants, and foods that might poison your pet

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Senior Pet Page: Geriatric Medicine

Skeletal-Muscular Problems Arthritis, Fractures, ACL, Ligament Injuries, Disc Disease, Pannus, and many other problems of the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments

Skin Problems: allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems

Surgery: Spays, Castrations, Testicle Recipes, Soft Tissue Surgery, Hard Tissue Surgery (Bones), C- Sections, Declawing, Tumor Removal and Cancer Surgery

Wounds, punctures, injuries, and abscesses

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Other Topics on This Site

The Human-Animal Bond

History of Veterinary Medicine; lots of interesting stuff     

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Lab Tests and what they tell us

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Nutrition & Diets
Includes information about Prescription diets used to treat disease, and a discussion about the pet food industry

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Includes information about feline and canine heat or estrus, breeding, C-Sections, pyometra or Infected Uterus, dystocia, no milk, mastitis, & brucellosis 
Also newborn care, undescended testicles, and alternative to spaying and castration

Vaccine and other preventive health recommendations

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Our Dog Page:  a directory of problems of concern in dogs including parvovirus, distemper, canine herpes, and other diseases

Veterinary Pet Insurance 

My Christmas speech 2019 including stories about Albert Einstein and has dog Chico and about how when I was a veterinary student, I got run over by a train and got knocked unconscious !On this Page:

The Veterinary Oath

Stories and letters 

A Shelter Christmas Story

A Plea for Help at our Shelter

On Other Pages about the Human Animal Bond

On Other Pages about this topic:
There is a complete site directory at the bottom of the page

Our introductory page about the Human Animal Bond

About The Eden Alternative Project

Letters, the veterinarian oath, a shelter Christmas story, and "Murder Most Foul" 

The benefits and responsibilities of having pets

Please Help Us 
at the Shelter:

I’ve written this web site mostly to share my love of my profession … taking care of the medical and behavioral problems of pets.

But I have three other desires:

To help animal lovers make sense out of the details and confusion of veterinary care

To encourage pet owners to be more responsible in the care of their pets 

And I was really hoping to somehow raise money to keep our No Kill Pet Shelter running.  

Our shelter is staffed 100% by volunteers and has been successful at finding homes for 200-300 pets a year that would otherwise be euthanized.  

We take pets that are often filthy, full of parasites, suffering from diarrhea or colds or injuries.  

We clean them up, test and treat for heartworms, intestinal parasites, and leukemia.  

Our pets are socialized, vaccinated, spayed or castrated, and treated with love and compassion until we can place them in a suitable home.

Please help us.  

If you’re willing to help by donating any amount, simply click on the Donate Button below.

Thank you so much.  Your help is much appreciated and your donations will be used wisely, effectively, and with compassion.
I was asked to write a letter to 3rd grader Amanda about her interest in becoming a vet.  I thought I would include it here:

Dear Miss Amanda,

I'm a busy small animal veterinarian at The FoxNest Veterinary Hospital in Seneca, South Carolina.  

I understand that you might have an interest in becoming a veterinarian. 

If this is true, then already I can guess that you're likely to be a very smart and serious student, very nice, extremely inquisitive, curious about nature, compassionate, and maybe even good looking. 

I'm teasing you a little, especially about the good looking part ... but it does takes a certain kind of person to be willing to endure the long hours of study in the class room as well as the hard, mucky work training on farms and in clinics that it takes to become a qualified vet. 
So you have to ask yourself ... Is this me?

You know, there are some things in life that are special. 

God grants them to anyone, rich or poor, if only you reach out and grab them.  Let me list just a few:

    The satisfaction of helping others.

    The joy and hope of being around babies (all species)

    The satisfaction, pride, and self-worth of doing a job well done.

    The feeling you get when you're involved in something big and  important.

    Mastering something challenging.

    Falling in love.

Well, forget that last item for now, but a life of a veterinarian is full of the richness of interesting challenges and joys.  And lots of intriguing medical science, technology, and lifetime learning. 

Babies of all kinds, licked faces, and the rewards, satisfaction, and occasional heartbreaks of struggling with the miracles of life and death in animals.  

I guess I should mention that there's a wacky side to this career as well; a practicing veterinarian, on any given day, is likely to be hailed as a minor hero one moment and humiliated as a dunce the next as we go from one medical mystery to another.  Not to mention the silly situations we get ourselves into.  Picture trying to catch an angry momma sow in a pen full of slippery diarrhea because she has a tooth abscess that needs to be extracted.  

Not to mention some pretty wacky pet owners.  I could go on and on.

As you might surmise, I think being a vet is about as wonderful a thing as can be, but like anything else worthwhile in this life, there's a long, very difficult and competitive set of things you have to accomplish to obtain this goal.   Just to give you an idea, there's about 20 very hard working, bright people trying to get into vet school for each place available at vet school.  So, great grades, sterling character, self discipline, a love of reading, study, and research, and, of course, a passion for life in general with a cherry on top for animals, and you're there.  

Good luck and God's guiding hand in whatever you do, your pen pal friend,  Dr. Ross

Judging from the above letter, you might think I'm an awfully sweet guy.  Well, I like to think so, but the realities of life also make me write letters like the one below:

A Letter About Free Veterinary Care

Hello, i don't expect an answer i have had the misfortune to be poor, although i work 60 hours a week, i am a single Mom, with no one but me for support, the reason i tell you this is my beloved dog, daughter of my constant companion was shot the other day, it was light bird shot and superficial, however i believe she was also hit by a car. i was going to have my son put her down, but because i thought it was just bird shot we decided to see if she would pull herself through. i picked her up and took her outside to the bathroom for the first week and a half and brought food and water to her i also gave her and still give her an aspirin a day. she was dragging her hind and legs, at this time i still thought it was just from being shot. I have done some research and since she also has a mean curve in her spine she must have a spinal injury. 

OK, where you ask do you fit in? if i could have received free emergency vet care for her, perhaps i could have known sooner and found a better course of healing than just letting her do it on her own, although she is walking better now with a limp, the spine curve is still there and i can tell the whole hind hurts and sometimes she has a problem getting up on all four legs. as it is now daily i think it may be better to put her down, but i can't tell if she is in pain or not, this is just such a waste, i live in moncks corner sc. why isn't there free emergency vet care available for people, believe me, most vets are vets because of the love for pets and not the money, although they like the rest of us need that to. it would be nice if each county had a clinic staffed by volunteers and donations to help, you know sometimes just an x ray machine to see if the dog could be helped.

thanks for letting me vent


My Remarks:

First, my respect for working pretty long hours.  But you seem to be one of those people who think other people should pay for your expenses.  

All I can say, Miss Julie, is that when I hear people say something should be free, what that really means is that "somebody else should pay for it"   As for "just an X Ray machine", they're quite expensive and both having an X-Ray machine and using it involves a ton of rules, liability, requirements for "certified operators", yearly inspections, complicated OSHA regulations, environmental EPA rules on disposing of chemicals, and yearly fees paid to regulators.

Being a responsible pet owner implies not letting your pets get shot or hit by cars because you have reasonable control over their whereabouts.  It also means you have enough money to provide for their basic needs, basic veterinary care, and emergency care.  Having children and pets can be a great comfort and joy, but they entail alot of responsibility, work, love, money, and effort...or the results are fairly predictable.

Thanks for letting me vent.    Roger Ross DVM

Murder Most Foul 

A story by Patricia Boggs, Training Director of the Central Arkansas Search And Rescue K-9's in Cabot, Arkansas.  There are more similar stories about dogs rescuing people at Pat's site:

The call had come in around 10pm that night...Sharon and Larry had received a call from the State Police about bringing the dogs to help find a victim. We had planned to do a compass workshop the next day, so I knew that everyone would be available. 8 am. Meet at Pat's place.

The weather has been so wet and hot already and today would be no different. I planned wet "Kool Beds" for the dogs. I froze water in the bottles and topped with might last half the day. Water, Soda, and Gatorade were in the cooler for man and beast. Load the dogs and equipment and off we set.

The clouds where thick and we ran in and out of rain. Today Ray (the hubby) got to go. He acts as my flanker when I work two dogs. It would be Magic's first real search as a cadaver dog. I was excited.

The town we drove to is one of the pretty little backcountry type, common in Arkansas and made up of nice folks. I tried to picture this murder in the midst of the lovely mountains and clear mountain lakes. It was hard.

The briefing was by the Sheriff's deputy and then by the State Police. They would let us go out with the Sheriff's deputies and follow later. We would go to the crime scene and then check two other places that might yield some clues.

Almost 25, he had been shot and dragged off 20 feet and left to die. The 17 yr. old girl was missing. They were treating it as a double murder and did not think she was part of his murder. Five days they had been missing and the rain and high temps would be against us for tracks, but good working for the dogs to air scent.

First we ask Fox and Pete the Vizula to do an "article" sweep, but both take us straight to the crime scene to alert on the remains of the boy. The body was already recovered, but the smell and body liquids are still in place. We check the ground around the body for shell castings from the murder weapon. Nothing. Fox is crazy "touching" and grumbling over "Fred"...we move on with a "Find More" command. I take him back to the "car" area and he goes back to work.  Once more to the body area, but from a different direction.  Back to the car area. He keeps hitting at the water and ground...Blood was everywhere and we have the "primary" scene of the murder. The dogs move on, but don't find any bullets...we do find a hair ribbon and they bag it just in case.

When you do a crime never know if it was there before the murder or even after...this was old and weathered, but worth the check. The area is a dead end and often used as a "Lovers Lane" by locals. In the middle of thick woods, it was land owned by the Lumber company. Once we had completed the sweep, we divided into sectors. Ralph and Bubba are the prime cadaver dogs with size enough to search larger heavy terrain. The Lab, Skye, would work with Marty and her dog, Rufus. Michelle will flank for them. She and Beth are new to the search team and need to work with another of the team to gain experience. I send them East. Ray will be my backup and I take the West. We will all check both sides of the road and go at least a mile or longer in each direction. Ralph will over run us in the woods. He works well with the Schips. Sharon with Bubba and Pete will over run the second team. This is double checking for all of us.

We walk to our starting point and Magic has picked up the scent of "Fred"...we pass it by on the flexi...our job is down the road a 1/4 mile where we will start our sweeps. This is now Ralph's area and he is hard at work.

I release the dogs and they take off running (play time) but soon settle at a trot into and out of the woods...both sides. They disappear deep in and back, to run and get a cookie. Off they go and each takes a side. I love to watch this team. The day is hot and the rain of earlier is gone. I wish for the cooling clouds as the sun is heating the humid air with no breeze to move it across the scents.  I come to a side road and they come back to me for a "Check It"..each goes deep into the weeds on the old log road. It is blocked and not passable by car. They return, and we proceed on the main road.

Time and again we check the off side roads. Nothing. Soon the sound of a truck reaches my ears and I call the Schips back...they get so into search, they will run right into a car. It is Ray's job to flag and stop a car before it gets into my sector...we explain the reason to the Deputy and then hold the boys while they pass. Next comes two four wheelers and Fox and Magic beg for a ride!! (most likely a chase!) The day is hot and we walk the road to a Y and then check a short way into both main roads. I can see that the wheelers have been there too, so we turn back.  It is about a mile and a half into the woods...the Schips are hot and we give water often. They had found several places where rain had collected and gone swimming! Cool and tired, I notice Fox has a limp. I check his pads, and see nothing. It doesn't slow him down. We find nothing, but can at least say where she isn't...and that is important, too.

As we get closer to the Van, I find Ralph and Larry.  They also found nothing. We had feared the girl had witnessed the murder and made a run for it, perhaps becoming lost or shot and left deep in the brush. Larry eases that fear.  Ralph is a sector dog, which means he will cover larger areas at a run...he would have found if she had been there.

We load and move onto the first water shed. This is way back in the woods (mountains?) but only a few miles from the crime scene. It was possible that the murders had been someone camped out there at the small rec area, and had taken a wrong road and happened on the young couple. We might find a clue or two here. It was also possible they had taken the girl into the car and driven off to parts unknown.

What we had to offer was where she was NOT again. We divided up and each took a sector again. Some had to drive and check around the far side of the lake. Others would check the steep side of the "dam" in case she had been rolled out and down the weed covered bank. Sharon and her two dogs went that way, Larry and Ralph took the woods to the east, Marty and Beth went below the dam and the surrounding wood...I pulled the cushy job...the water and surrounding rec area.

All the dogs went for a swim first...and Magic went so far out I got nervous. But he was just checking and swam back to me with out a problem. At Least I know the water in that area is alerts.

Slowly we do the road check and walk around the back of the lake. I thought I'd check even though we knew they would not "carry" a body very far. It was an easy path and they could have made her walk it before killing her. So much woods and so many places to dump a body. The Schips spread out and search well.

On the way back, we find a "smell" and Magic goes off to check it. Fox goes for a drink and checks the water. Magic checks the drainage culvert and road. Both return and move on...I note the spot for a recheck by one of the other dogs.

All meet and talk...I ask Ralph to double check Magic as he is still only a "B" level dog, so off we go...and here comes Bubba..."where ya going Pat" he asks...and tags along as I say find REAP...his word. They both go to the SAME place...we watch as Bubba works the culvert and moves on...animal...not alert.  Same as Magic. Time to go.

Next is the second water shed and we drive a short distance and another beautiful lake is visible. The dogs head straight for the water and swim. Then we again spread out. Beth and Marty take the down side of the dam, Sharon, Larry and myself spread out along the banks...I cross the dam to the far side and alert on a burnt shirt. The dogs sniff scratch and move on to find more...good dog.  I clear the small picnic area and fire pit and head back...they stop and check the shirt again, so I take a stick and mark it out for the police to tag. Just in case.

Well, we all talk and decide to call it a day. It has been 6 hot and long hours. The dogs are tiring and I see the look on Beth's face. She has pulled a hard sector in the heat and she is just recovering from a broken bone in the knee area. I tell her a well done and hug her...she is doing a great job with our team.

Load and drive...we are hot tired and HUNGRY...LOL I want ice do the others...REWARD ME...LOL (just like my Schips).  The kind and funny Deputy takes pity on us and shows us the dairy bar...BIG piece of Apple Pie and LOTS of ice cream...but first, a cold drink of ice water for us and the dogs. Hey, he picks up the tab too!

We debrief and talk quietly among ourselves and the deputy. They may call us back...ohoh the news team shows we are DIRTY, SWEATY, and EATING...and they want an interview!! Hehe we give it to the other new member..Michelle, who has been Flanker for Ralph and Larry, also for Marty at the crime scene. She does a great job...ahh youth. And she is excited about her TV debut.  LOL She has the poodle, JOJO.

The day is complete and we drive our cool air conditioned cars toward the house. The cell phone rings...let's eat we stop at a fast food place and pig out...ahhhh at least it was fast and hot and I love Fabroli's Pasta. So do the Schips.

Home again. Not as exciting as some, but rewarding. The Schips had worked well, and had there been something to find we would have found it. Magic gets big pats and Fox gets his paws cleaned. I don't see a reason for the slight limp...but give him a aspirin and rub down. He is a good boy, too. Magic has earned an "atta Boy" for his first big search.  He has proved he does understand the search, and can go hours in hot weather and adverse conditions, still doing his job. I know he is fit and sound, so I have done my job.

Pat and the Sarschips hoping this one was not too boring for you...all in the life of a search dog.