My name is Rusty Gage. When I woke up on the morning of March 26, I had no idea that I would end the day as an unexpected client at your clinic. With fate landing as it does, I am so grateful that it led me to Center for Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Care. Our 14-pound Parson Russell Terrier - or Parti Schnauzer, depending on who you ask (we still really don’t know, as he’s a rescue dog) - was attacked by an 80-pound dog who was likely startled by a fast-moving, much smaller presence in its periphery. When all was said and done, Keoki was left with lacerations and life-threatening internal injuries.
I was near downtown Dallas during rush hour when all this happened, so it was several hours before I was able to arrive at your hospital. When we did arrive, we were absolutely stunned at the level of care provided by 100% of the staff. Our only regret is that we were so engrossed in Keoki’s issues that we do not remember all the names, the caring faces and the caring words of everyone who guided us through where Keoki would be led, but we do believe that every one of those folks were well aware of our sincere appreciation for the time they took with us and for the sincerity and empathy with which they delivered news and updates. Receptionists, administrators, paperwork gatherers…we wish we could remember all their names, but we were so engrossed in our personal issue that we simply do not remember.
We do remember Dr. Vadell, who we believe was the intake doctor (we could be wrong on that part, as we arrived several hours after Keoki arrived). We greatly appreciated her candor and the skillful way she walked that all-too-thin tightrope between delivering potentially bad news with honesty and hopefulness. I (Rusty) also remember Jessica - one of the most critical members of your team. (I’m sorry that I do not remember her last name). I believe that her title is “Veterinary Social Worker.” I had never heard of such a role. I must admit, though, that having such a person come in and talk with me before I could go back and see my sick little boy slapped onto the situation a reality that hadn’t existed prior to Jessica’s entering the room.
Still, stepping back from the situation, I am so appreciative of your hospital having such an important compassion component as part of an all-encompassing care plan for the entire family - AND the person playing the role - Jessica is absolute perfection. I know the day will come when Keoki and I will have to say goodbye, but I would never have imagined it having come through another dog tearing him apart, especially when he is one whose ultimate joy in life is that of playing with other dogs. The thought of having to go home and leave my beloved little boy’s lifeless body there at the hospital after such a shock with nothing more than a simple but well-intended “I’m sorry” from any other caregiver would have added an unbearable amount of salt to the wound. A big thank-you to Center for Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Care for considering the role of Veterinary Social Worker to be just as important as the role of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and a big thank-you to Jessica for following her heart’s work.
We also want to sing the praises of Dr. Mahon. Beyond the commensurate professional who clearly understands the science of her field, she understands the family component. Dr. Mahon not only took the time that both of Keoki’s daddies needed to understand his physical condition, she extended herself well beyond what the job required. We simply cannot put into words how much we appreciated how much time and care she took with us and with Keoki. It would appear that the small paragraph dedicated to her in this email would reflect a small amount of gratitude, but that would be wholly and completely wrong.
We are simply so overwhelmed that we cannot find the words to express our gratitude for the scale and scope of the authenticity of her care. Beyond all the kudos written here, we want everyone there to acknowledge this: we understand that, just like any job, your respective roles at Center for Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Care are indeed jobs. They’re the roles that you play when you arrive for your work schedule on any given day. There are days that you want to go to work, and there are days that you don’t want to go to work. There are demands placed on you that you just don’t want that day. There are ridiculous things that happen that just make you shake your head. There are days full of monotony, and there are days that cause stress and headaches. To get to where many of your staff are, they had to get up before the roosters to go sit and listen to some boring college professor when it would have been much easier just to get thirty more minutes of sleep in that tiny dorm room. They had to take tests that required study nights when friends got to go to the club or to the game. However, when all was said and done, all that “stuff” eventually made a mark on the world. All that “stuff” eventually changed lives.
Because your staff was and is willing to tolerate all that “stuff,” our Keoki is alive and thriving, smiling in the attached photo today, just minutes after having had the sutures from his thoracic surgery removed, eager to take the stairs three at a time again. Keep tolerating. Keep remembering why you do what you do. You’re changing the world for the better, one family at a time. May your kindness be returned many times over, both as a hospital and as individual people. Rusty, Jeff & Keoki