In Memory

We have made many special friends over the years that we consider to be family like our own pets. Sadly, some of these friends and family members have passed but, they will live on in our minds forever. Below are a few of our beloved patients that left an extra special paw print on our hearts.

Butters, 2005 to 2016. (Written by Dr. Miller)

I really didn’t expect to be writing my third obituary in the last year and a half, but here I am.

Butters passed on his own rather unexpectedly. We knew he was very ill, but he was maintaining at the time. This is a brief essay about his life.

Our groomer rescued a pair of Wire Haired Fox Terriers and was given a surprise litter a few weeks later. I happened to mention how I liked this breed and a couple of months later a puppy was slipped into my office while I was at the desk. That was how I met Butters.  

Being in my profession I thought I knew what I had gotten into. In reality, I had no idea. I got my first lesson when I brought him home for the first time. I took him out into the front yard, turned around to check on my other dogs and turned back to find no Butters. The neighbor had opened her front door and he had sprinted through their door, bound up their stairs and stood staring at me through the bannister. He had a look in his eyes that said, “let the adventures begin.” And they did.

Amazingly, he trained readily to the invisible fence and I discovered his intelligence in how rapidly he house trained and behaved in the house. As he approached adulthood, we moved to a new home in a new neighborhood. His yard was spacious with a wooded area on one side and a walking/biking trail passing in front along the longest border of the lot. Another invisible fence was installed, and once trained to it he was given the freedom of the yard. Boy, did he have fun. He felt that the yard was his kingdom and he was was responsible for patrolling it. He developed a little game where he would hide in the tall flowers by the front of the house, wait on a passing person walking a dog, and then sprinted up behind them barking madly in his high pitched tone.

Invariably, they would almost jump out of their skin. This would go on all day. In the winter he’d camp on his favorite chair with a complete view out the front window looking longingly at the trail.  I was quickly able to separate the true dog person in our neighborhood from the novice. The dog person, within weeks, would know Butter’s name and his game and they would remain on the lookout as they passed. Then when he attempted his tactics, they would talk to him, creating confusion which resulted in a little terrier wagging his stubby tail and enjoying the attention. The novice dog people would walk across the street avoiding him. Total lack of adventure.

He also had certain objects that he would chase down the yard, barking at incessantly.  He seemed to be fixated on school busses, large trucks, trucks or cars pulling trailers, and kids on scooters. I think he was like Don Quixote chasing windmills.

In between these adventures, he’d travel with me weekly to work where he’d terrorize whatever kennel tech had to bathe him. He really had most of them buffaloed, but a few figured out he was relatively harmless. Teenaged Sarah (our current practice manager) was the first to figure out his act. His groomer also had him pegged. Amber’s clippers moved so fast that he barely had time to realize what was going on. But he’d still snarl in the bath tub.

Because of his breed, he was a hunter by nature. He’d constantly patrol the yard for cats and run them out. My neighbor’s British Shorthair took great glee in tormenting him. The cat knew the fence boundaries and used them scientifically. Butters also had the uncanny habit of finding the aberrant skunk in the yard, resulting in multiple Dawn dish soap baths in the early morning hours. Now, that’s what I call fun! And of course there was the great possum caper.

Late one night Butters did not come when I called him. I went out and found him, by the woods, proudly dragging a possum. I checked the possum. He had obviously killed it. I took Butters inside and got a shovel to bury the possum and returned to no possum. Boy did I feel stupid.  But Butters didn’t, he just got another bath. So, a couple of summers later while entertaining friends and staff on our back deck, someone screeched that Butters had a dead animal in a dark corner. Blood was spattered on Butters and the deck. Several people checked it out and looked at me and said it was a possum. I didn’t move and said it would be fine.Jaws dropped as they just stared at me.  Sure enough, 10 minutes later the possum was gone!

Did I mention his anxieties?  He was a tail chaser and when he caught his own tail he would bite it. Self mutilation resulted in two surgical procedures to shorten his tail. He took Prozac his whole life with moderate results. This sounds silly, but it is really a terrible affliction. This problem resolved somewhat as he aged.

Despite his semi hyperactive lifestyle he was a great traveller. When he saw a packed suitcase placed in the car he knew he was going on a trip and jumped in the back seat and was asleep before we were out of the neighborhood. He’d snooze for up to 10 hours, occasionally getting up to check out the scenery, and then immediately go back to sleep. On arrival he was a completely different dog. He transformed into a quiet, observant, dog that never barked at anything including passing dogs. I suppose he just thought he was a visitor and had to be on his best behaviour. So, while the other dogs were left with the staff at the New Richmond hospital, Butters travelled with us everywhere. On arrival home, he’d jump out of the back seat and immediately start back into his yard patrols.

Butters lived with Charlie, my Cocker, and Maggie, my Wheaton terrier. Later, Sammy the Goldendoodle everyone loves, was adopted by us. They all lived together well. Charlie was euthanized a couple of years ago due to failed health and that seemed to have little effect on Butters. Then Brody, my son’s family dog, came to  live with us while I treated him for Lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). Brody was eventually euthanized and again it seemed to have little effect on Butters. Shortly after losing Brody, all of Maggie's health problems caught up with her. We nursed her for weeks, but eventually she too had to be euthanized. So, we had suffered a lot of family pet loss over the last 3 years. Then within a week I noticed that Butters was not patrolling and his appetite was down. I took him to the office and after a complete workup, we found he was suffering from pancreatitis. This can create severe abdominal pain. X-rays also revealed a gallstone had formed. In dogs gallstones are rarely problematic, so after consulting with a specialist, I chose to not do surgery.  Besides by this time he was a surgical risk.

A few days passed and his appetite still waned and his breathing was getting heavy.  Back to the office for X-rays. Fluid was present in his lungs and now he had cardiac arrhythmias. I started to treat him for heart failure. I also added a second antibiotic. This antibiotic made him nauseous which led to disastrous results. I came home as I was going between offices and found that he had vomited throughout the house and was in severe respiratory distress with severe cardiac arrhythmias. He was turning blue. I rushed him to the New Richmond office and started him on massive amounts of IV diuretics to pull the fluid from his lungs. Within an hour he had significant improvement, so I took him home on injectable meds. Within 24 hours his respirations were normal and the crisis was over. I switched him over to oral heart meds.

So now, I was dealing with chronic pancreatitis and probable cardiomyopathy. Over the next several weeks we struggled with his doses and appetite, but eventually he was eating again.  

Finally, one evening I came home from work and fed the boys. Butters went out and actually did his routine of dog-walker chasing and barking, although a bit more feebly. Then he came in feeling rather proud and layed down to take a nap and never woke up. He simply died in his sleep. As grieved as I was, I also felt a little joy that he finished his life as he had began it, letting the neighborhood dogs know who ruled the roost.

So that was Butter’s life, tormenting neighborhood dogs, striking fear into kennel techs’ hearts, and following grandchildren around because he knew the benefits of their sloppy eating habits. He did love the grandchildren. I don’t know why he suddenly became very ill. I theorize that the loss of his housemates over a short period of time may have caused enough stress to allow these afflictions. If so, he kept the stress hidden. We’ll never know I suppose.

Throughout his life my staff all had this love/hate relationship with him. They’d complain about his attitudes, tail chasing, and cat tormenting. But I knew the love/hate was really all love. When he became ill, I could see the worry in their eyes and the extra time they’d spend with him. They all truly grieved at his loss and months later we still recall Butters’ stories that we shared together. We laugh as we remember and we all really, really miss that small bundle of energy.

We all love and miss you Butterscotch Miller and you will live in our hearts forever.

Brutus, 2008 to 2015 (Written by Dr. Miller)

Yesterday (October 19th, 2015) we had to say goodbye to one of our house-cats.  His name was Brutus, a beautiful tuxedo kitty.  He was afflicted with serious urinary tract problems and we took him in when he no longer could be managed at his home.  He had multiple urinary blockages.  We corrected this surgically with a procedure that allowed him to urinate like a female cat. He did well with this procedure but still required further minor surgical corrections through the years.  As the years passed his kidneys suffered serious damage and despite all our efforts we finally were faced with the sad reality that he was not going to get better. His quality of life had deteriorated and after consulting with Sarah and the rest of the staff, the decision was made to allow him to pass peacefully.  We were all there to give our good-byes and console each other. An announcement was made on our Facebook page later that afternoon and within minutes it lit up.  He had touched the hearts of so many and the response is so appreciated by myself, Sarah, Kati, Katie, and Hannah.

So, let’s try to help ourselves heal by celebrating his life.  

When Brutus arrived he made himself right at home. Other cats of ours can be timid or shy but not this guy.  We did have some adjustments to make, such as dealing with his obsession to chew through computer cables. And, it took us a while to realize he was the one marking our cat exam room, just to let visitors know he was in charge. But, we adjusted and found a good “working relationship” with him.

Most people don’t realize that cats are territorial.  This behaviour continues in multicat households. Their territories in the house are usually very subtle. You have to  live with them to pick up these little nuances.  It didn’t take long for Brutus to stake out the front reception desk as his territory.  Perhaps the computer cables attracted him to this area. In reality he just liked to be where the action was. He simply loved mingling with people, as long as you followed his rules. He had his perch on the far end of the top of the reception desk where he could watch for arrivals and keep an eye on whomever is working reception or doing computer stuff. You’d walk in the door and immediately be drawn to this tall cat with startling black and white contrasting colors. As you talked to the person behind the desk you almost instinctively start to rub his ears and stroke his head. Boy, did he love that. So much so that he would give you a submissive rollover and sucker you into rubbing his tummy. SMACK! That’s his “no touch zone” and he’d give you a paw slap to let you know it.  Try again and expect a “love” bite. However, those more familiar with him would not go near his underside and if you rubbed his ears enough he would reward you by sticking his butt in your face! That was his ultimate show of affection.   

As the years rolled on it became apparent his go to person was Sarah. That had it’s pluses and minuses.  He was always there when she was doing her work on the computer on non-doctor times, being the good companion.  Then, on occasion,  his little demon would come out and he’d walk over the keyboard when she was typing, and say “hey, look at me” as he started to chew on cords. This is about when I’d walk through the door and hear Sarah threatening to kick him out as he intently stared at her as if to say “whut?” 

After being admonished he’d return to his perch and nap.  

Every cat has it’s own personality and Brutus was no exception.  He was his own man. The other cats respected him and kept their distance, except of course when he needed body heat to snuggle to in the winter.  He always carried a dignified appearance and even he was sick, kept his vigilance on the desk right up to his last days.  We’ve been blessed with great house pets at our offices, and Brutus was one of the best.  He had that special vibe that made you smile and feel better when you were sad.  He made bad days good and good days better.  His eyes were beautiful and your problems would melt away when you looked into them.  

He was able to mingle into all of our lives, touch our hearts, and make us better people.   We’ll miss you Brutus, and will always remember you with love. You will always be part of our universe and I can personally say “I’m damned glad I met ya!”

The blog post below was written by Dr. Miller in February. I apologize it took me so long to get around to editing and posting! But, in celebration of Pet Memorial Day on September 13th I thought it was finally time to share. Thanks, Chester, for all the love. <3

Chester Messner, 1999 to 2015 (Written by Dr. Miller)

Yesterday (Feb. 1st, 2015) we lost a good friend, Chester, the Messner family dog. He finally developed irreversible damage to his organs. The family and myself allowed him to pass peacefully.  Driving home I reflected on his life and how it affected myself and other people. To understand my feelings I have to give you a brief Chester biography.

Chester (left) and Hanzo (right).


He came to us at the Williamsburg hospital. Like so many of our pets he was a refugee. As I recall he was found by the police in Mt. Orab and dropped off at our office. We attempted to find his owners but this was before microchips and we all knew the chances were unlikely. He was a small grey and black terrier with a constant tail wag and he warmed up to us rapidly. Soon, we knew he was here to stay.  He adapted well but we already had two dogs living at the Williamsburg office and we decided to move him to our New Richmond hospital. Again, he immediately adapted. He simply knew no strangers. About this time Sarah, a high school student, started to work for us as an animal care tech. She quickly befriended this little rambunctious terrier. Then Chester started to take weekend visits to the Messner household and eventually he simply never came back. I was happy because I knew Chester had found a loving home.

Sarah finally went away to college so we only saw him on his healthcare visits. You knew he was very happy because he sure was in a hurry to get back home. Three years later Sarah returned home and came back to work for us. At this time we knew Chester was starting to age and was developing cardiac disease related to aging.  As time passed his disease was progressing but he was being managed well medically. Then a chronic cough developed and about a year ago he started having fainting spells. He had developed severe arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats) and I thought his time was coming to an end. But we didn’t give up. Sarah and I researched diligently and Sarah followed instructions perfectly.  He became stable and lived another year . During this time we ran into an occasional bump in the road and researched and modified his medications.  But most of the time he was his feisty little terrier self. We were never sure of his age but we knew he was at least 15 and probably considerably older.  That extra year would extrapolate to 5 to 10 years in a human life. We were all grateful to have given him this extra time.

So, on my way home I first thought about Sarah and Chester. I knew their bond was extremely strong. And I know from my own experiences that the human animal bond grows dramatically stronger as your pet ages and requires increasing care. I call this “the give back times.” After all the years of joy they give us we have to adapt to their needs as they age. That final act of care requires much courage. Sarah had to decide when the time had come to let him go. She had her family to lean on and I was there for support, but the decision was hers.  

Then I thought about her parents. I really do not know their thoughts and feelings but as a fellow parent of adult children I think I know how this little guy affected them . I know the feelings of loneliness and despair as you pack your children off to college. The home is empty and adjustment takes a long time.  Actually we probably never totally adapt.  My two sons went to Columbus making visits easy and eased the pain of separation. But Sarah went to the other side of the country. Wow!  I think Chester really helped in easing the pain of separation.  After all he was Sarah’s dog and a constant reminder of her. He was always there waiting on her return. He was the security of knowing she would eventually return home, probably sooner rather than later.

Then, I thought about me. Homesickness and missing her parents brought Sarah back, but I think Chester may have been that last little thread that pulled on her heart and brought her back after three years. For me the good news was that Chester had also bonded her to our New Richmond Animal Hospital. She immediately returned back to work for us and her adaptation was remarkable. She soon became my marketing guru through social media and finally I had the good sense to make her the hospital director. She started her new duties about the time Chester started fainting. So as we worked diligently together to grow the practice we also developed Chester’s care. Chester helped give my business a new direction and also gave me a good, good friend.

Based on my conjecture, Chester was a cherished companion, helped her parents cope with their “empty nest” and finally helped bring Sarah home. Indirectly, he brought her back to our office, dramatically improving how we do business and giving me one of my best friends.

That’s what I think he did and this doesn’t include all the daily joys he brought to the Messner home, and all the other people he has touched.

So, I finally came to some conclusions.

For all you non-pet/animal people, You don’t know what you’re missing and you don’t know what effect a pet may have had on your life. But it’s not too late to dive in.

For you pet owners you know the joys of dog or cat companionship and if you have experienced it, you know the pain and grief of losing that companion. But if your grief has healed you also know that joy and love exquisitely outweighed the loss at the end.

So, is it worth it?  Absolutely! If you fear losing a pet or have recently lost one and you’re not quite sure about starting over, try what I did on my way home. I call it the Frank Capra “It’s a Wonderful Life” test.  Revisit your life for the last 15 to 20 years, then imagine it without your dog or cat. In other words, imagine the world if your pet never existed. Thousands of great experiences would have been missed. All that love would not have been there and your life would have been dramatically different.  There are not many things better than having a pet.

Miss Daisy, 2006 to 2014

Today we learned that Daisy, our most favorite Bassett Hound of all time, passed yesterday. She was 8 years old . 
I still remember her first visits as a puppy. We laughed as she approached the office, ears dragging on the ground short legs working and tail wagging. The staff would use stall tactics just to keep her in the office a little longer. Basset puppies are all cute, but she was just plain cuddly, beautiful, cute. She grew into an extremely handsome adult with her long body, short legs, and her ears still dragging. She just made you smile whenever she came into the office. She knew no strangers and even though our office was not her favorite place, she always greeted us with wags and sloppy kisses. As she aged she never lost her vitality and to the last days still greeted us with her usual wags as if it were her mission to make us smile and not let her illness get us down. 

Daisy was blessed with the warmest home and most caring owners a dog could possibly hope for. They gave her the absolutely best healthcare available and in the end after all efforts had been done they had the courage to allow her to pass peacefully. 

Daisy will live in our hearts forever and we will truly miss her. The realization that we will no longer see those short little legs chugging through our front door is very sad. But we are extremely lucky and thankful to have shared in Daisy’s life. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Davis for the privilege of knowing and caring for Daisy.

Charlie Miller, 1999 to 2013 (Written by Dr. Miller)

My Charlie
Charlie was my beautiful black cocker boy.  He came to me when he was a year old. A marriage had broken up and his owner was moving to Arizona.   He quickly adapted to his new home and his Westie housemate, Huey. His life was care free and happy.  
At about 10 years of age he developed glaucoma, a hereditary disease that is over represented in the cocker breed. His sight gradually deteriorated until blindness set in. Despite this he persevered happily keeping up with Huey, continued his Houdini escapes from his crate so he could surprise me at the door when I arrived home, and always scouting out dropped food from the table when grandchildren were visiting. As the years passed he developed a slowly progressive vestibular disease (loss of balance).  I suspected a slow growing brain tumor.  
Eventually he developed kidney disease and entered what I would describe as his hospice period. With diligence we worked together to allow him to live out his life, dignified and happy.  At the end he told me his time had come and I aided him in his passage. 
Looking back I would not have done anything differently.  Caring for a geriatric pet creates a bond that becomes a cherished gift. His passing has affected me deeply and after two months and a gentle nudge from a staff member I was able to write this. As a veterinarian, he has reinforced and refreshed my commitment to my clients and patients. 
Thank you, Charlie for your years of joyful companionship. I will always have a place in my heart for you.

Ms. Zoee, 2002 to 2013    

Zoee was a patient at our New Richmond office starting in 2002 when she was just a little puppy. We continued to see her through adulthood and her senior years. It is normal for boxers to always be happy to see you, but there was something more to Zoee. She was always a favorite for her big, bright smile and wonderful attitude, even in her later years when it was painful for her to walk. But, that never slowed her down or stopped her from greeting us with boxer kisses and love. Zoee will be greatly missed by the doctors and staff. There will never be another dog quite like her!

Gracie, 2005 to 2013

Gracie came to us as a referral from a current client about a year ago. She was battling an unknown and previously un-diagnosed issue for quite some time. We had grown close to Gracie and her entire family in the past year as we were seeing them quite often for her illness. She was a fun dog with a BIG personality and will be missed by everyone here.

Baxter, 2002 to 2011

Baxter first came to us as a small puppy (as small as English Mastiffs can be!) Over the years he came in often

, and the staff was always excited to see him. The clients loved him as well. Whenever he boarded with us he took over the job as the hospital greeter, and made sure everyone felt welcome. Baxter didn't enjoy staying in his kennel during the day, and honestly it was difficult to get him to do anything he didn't want to! His quiet stubborness will never be matched. We all miss him every day.

Sebastion, 1998 to 2011

Sebastion was given to us by a young man leaving for college. He was taken to our Williamsburg Hospital where he served as our aristocratic feline mascot.  He was loved by staff and clients alike. Everyone knew him and asked about him, especially children.  He demanded affection on his terms, sneaking up behind you and gently tapping on the back of your leg.  He was almost magical in the way he seemed to appear and disappear throughout the day. However on Saturdays you could always find him with our groomer Faye. He had an amazing affection for her. He was a devoted pet that will always live in our memories.

Maggie, 2003 to 2011

Maggie was the resident "Dog Next Door" at the New Richmond location. Over the years she greeted the staff every morning when we arrived, and was always waiting for us in the evenings when we left. Whether she boarded with us, stayed for treatments, or came in with her parents she always seemed to know we were there to help her. Maggie had the gentlest manner of any dog we have ever known, and we were so very sad to lose her. All of us felt that when she passed we lost a pet of our own. We think of her each day when we arrive and leave, and wish she was there for one more paw-shake and puppy-kiss.

Raff, 1991 to 2005

Raff was one of our resident house cats at the New Richmond location. He lived with us for 14 years, and was Niles' (our Cornish Rex's) best friend. He was always a favorite among staff and clients alike because of his friendly, outgoing nature. And, he was one of our smartest house cats-- he taught all of them that the best place to sleep in the winter is on top of the dryer! Certainly Niles appreciated that, considering he has hardly any hair. We lost Raff in 2005 to kidney failure. The entire staff (his family) was there to say goodbye to a very beloved friend. We think of him often.

Sally, 1997 to 2011

A call came in to us from the Mt Orab police department.  A cute little terrier like dog was found wandering in the parking lot. We took her in and never  thought about finding her a home.  She had found her home for life with us.  She quickly adapted to her lifestyle and became the boss-dog of the hospital.  She had the run of the place living almost all of her life with her pal Sammy, a resident Labrador Retriever. She was a great companion to us all, cheering us up in sad times and rejoicing with us in good times.  She will always live in our hearts.  We miss you Sally.

Dexter, 1997 to 2011

Dexter began seeing us at the clinic in 2000, and for all of those years he charmed the entire staff. He was the friendliest Dalmation in the world, and in his later years when he stayed with us more often he would always demand attention from the closest human. Dexter was also a star of New Richmond's Reindog Parade every Christmas, and often brought home the grand prize! Dexter was a friend and companion to the entire staff. He was with us so much his absence is felt daily, and we miss him as though he were our own house-dog.

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