by Lisa Stahr
In the world of rehabilitation therapy for animals, there are some star players–people who have risen to the top because of their knowledge and skill in rehab therapy. One of those was Dr. John Sherman III of Vethab in Raleigh, North Carolina. John was a veterinarian who enjoyed doing orthopedic surgeries, but long before the term “rehab therapy” was even introduced to the world of veterinary medicine, he saw what so many others missed: that pets would recover from surgery more quickly and more completely if they had access to physical rehabilitation therapy, just as humans benefit from physical therapy after their surgeries. So John made a career change–although he was always a veterinarian, he changed his focus to rehab therapy, opening his Vethab Rehabilitation Office before the rest of us even knew what rehab therapy was.
John was an avid student, always tinkering with his methods and machines to provide the best possible outcome for his patients. And he was a generous teacher who regularly took time away from his family and practice to teach those of us who were interested in learning more about rehab therapy at seminars around the country. Dr. Jan Lowery, our supervising vet at Scout’s House, and I first met John at one of these seminars in Portland, Oregon, as we prepared to open Scout’s House back in 2005. And a few years later, John came to Scout’s House to offer a similar seminar to other members of the veterinary profession, an event we were more than proud to host.
Over the years, John and his staff at Vethab were gracious and generous mentors of ours. They helped us in our early years as we were trying to find our way in this new and emerging field. They encouraged us, and gave three of our staff members the chance to come to Vethab to see how real rehab therapy was done. And they commiserated with us when the going got tough–but John always encouraged us to keep at it, don’t give up, try a different way if that other way didn’t work.
We learned a lot from John–about rehab therapy, about tenacity, about selflessness. So you can understand why we were so very sorry to hear of his unexpected death last Wednesday at the too-young age of 42. John was a pioneer in the field of physical rehabilitation therapy and will be sorely missed.