Archive for May, 2010

A Tribute to Dr. John Sherman

Monday, May 24th, 2010

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.

No-Kill Animal Shelters

Monday, May 17th, 2010

by Lisa Stahr

     Last Tuesday on Special Pets, Special Needs, our Internet radio show, we talked about no-kill animal shelters, specifically what they are and how they work.  It turns out the no-kill shelter concept is quite controversial, although I still don’t understand why since it would seem all of us animal lovers would be behind the idea of not killing dogs and cats. 
     But ever since the show, I’ve been curious about how many people actually adopt pets from no-kill shelters specifically because they are no-kill shelters.  If you or someone you know has adopted from a no-kill shelter, let’s hear from you:  Did you choose a no-kill shelter because you supported the concept?  Or did you just happen to find the next love of your life at a no-kill facility?   Or did you go to a shelter that euthanizes animals so that you could save a life yourself?

We Just Gave Away Our First Free Session!

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Congratulations to Scout’ s House client Leslie Tyler for scoring a FREE rehab session for her dog just by referring a friend to Scout’s House for rehab therapy for her pet.  Thank you, Leslie–Baer’s next session is on us!

The Responsibility No Pet Owner Wants–But Must Accept

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

by Lisa Stahr

             I want to talk a minute about responsibility.  “Big snooze,” you think, and part of me agrees.  But we’re all adults here and we understand that responsibility is just one of those things that comes with the territory. 
            As pet owners, we understand responsibility.  And for those of us with a special needs pet, we’ve accepted even more responsibility than most pet guardians.  We’ve agreed to help our pets walk when they can’t walk on their own, to express their bladders when neurological damage robs them of that capability, to see that they get the medications, food, and therapies they need to remain comfortable, functional, and happy. 
            By agreeing to share our lives with dogs and cats, we accept the responsibility to care for them properly.  And sometimes—almost always—that means making the extremely difficult decision to euthanize them when the time has come.  Like it or not, it is our responsibility.
            At Scout’s House, we’ve talked with many clients over the years about when it’s time to make that horrible decision.  Because we see the pets so frequently, we’re well aware when they’ve started to decline, how quickly and how far they’ve gone, and whether there’s a road back again.  Our policy has always been to gently initiate a conversation about it with our clients and give them a copy of our “When Is It Time?” quality of life scale, but ultimately we leave the decision up to them and their vets. 
            There are times, though, when clients “just can’t” make the decision, no matter how much input we or their veterinarians offer.  I understand how hard it is—I’ve had to make the decision for six of my pets and I’m here to tell you it is not easy.  It is always heartrending and you are always filled with doubt, no matter how obvious it is that the time is right. 
            But saying you “just can’t” does not excuse you from the responsibility.  If your pet is suffering—like the dog in the final stages of degenerative myelopathy who’s having trouble breathing or the dog who refuses to eat or drink, can’t walk anymore, and doesn’t show any joy for life—it is unconscionable to prolong that animal’s life because you “just can’t” make the decision. 
            This is your responsibility—one you took on when you agreed to share your life with your pet—and telling everyone you “just can’t” make the decision does not excuse you from the responsibility.  (By the way, if you “just can’t” make the decision, then you probably know it’s time—you just don’t want to do it.) 
            So, if you think that the time might be coming for your dog or cat, start preparing yourself.  Recognize that it’s one of the most difficult decisions you’ll ever have to make.  Ask your veterinarian for guidance.  Take our “When Is It Time?” evaluation.  Read as much as you can about how to make the decision (Dr. Nancy Kay’s book “Speaking for Spot” has an excellent section on euthanasia).  Talk to your family and friends.  But don’t stall and don’t run the pros and cons over and over in your head while your pet endures a miserable quality of life. 
            Be a responsible adult and make the damned decision.

Refer A Friend, Get A Free Session for Your Pet

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Announcing our new Referral Program:  Refer a friend to Scout’s House for rehab therapy for her/his pet and your pet’s next rehab session is free! 

Just have your friends give us your name when they come in for their initial exam and we’ll see to it that your pet’s next rehab session for is free.

It’s that easy, no fine print.  So tell your friends!