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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Dr. Pat Funnell with a part of her menagerie: Grey Eagle the horse, Tumnus the goat and Ink the dog

Telling tales on vets’ pets

Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Dr. Edward McKaig and his bulldog, Emmielou
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Dr. Nancy Bruns with most of her pets: cats Gordy, left, and Cosmo, and dogs Daisy, left, and Bagger.
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Dr. Steve Harry, holds his dog, Paisley, on an exam table in the Dupont Veterinary Clinic.

– Just as these are summer’s so-called dog days, let’s not overlook the cats and birds and horses and, yes, the Nigerian dwarf goats.

Our world is one we humans share with those on four legs and those with none; creatures with feathers, fur and fleece, and animals that live in the lap of indoor luxury, and others that belong outside.

They cannot speak, but they communicate. They cannot hug, but express love. They begin as pets but mostly end up as family.

So when our animals get sick or hurt, when they get old and weary, we tend to their needs and take them to a veterinarian who does what he or she can to salve the wound or solve the problem.

But who are these folks inside the white coat and with the understanding demeanor? Clearly they are pet-lovers, themselves; otherwise they wouldn’t do what they do. And after spending their days with animals, do they return home at night to pets of their own, that they take for walks and coax with treats?

That would be a yes.

And so The Journal Gazette randomly chose four local vets to talk about their pets.

Dr. Edward McKaig, New Haven Pet Hospital

Pet: Emmielou, 12-year-old English bulldog

Emmielou’s story, as told by McKaig: “My dog hates all other animals. Hates animals; loves people, but just anything on four legs is just wrong. In fact, when she was a puppy, I had an adult German shepherd at the time who was very mothering to her, but as she would get older, and life would come to bear on her and she was having a bad day, she’d go at the German shepherd. The German shepherd would hold her down until somebody came to break things up.

“She has a stubbornness to her. She is where she is. She is hard of hearing now, but even when she was younger, you could call her, and she would eventually look over her shoulder at you and just look away. She was very imperious.”

“She’s a dog who enjoyed playing. My son, when he was in high school – he’s 22, so she’s been around him since he was 10 – she’d be outside playing with a soccer ball, pushing it around. Her goal was to grab it and puncture it, eventually. But she loved pushing the ball around. She wasn’t a dog that was going to chase a tennis ball.”

Dr. Pat Funnell, Allen Veterinary Hospital

Pets: China, 8-year-old cockatiel; Rose, 13, Ink, 6, and Colby 2, all Labrador retrievers; Whin, 3, Tumnus, 3, and Trumpkin, 2, all Nigerian dwarf goats; Gray Eagle, 16-year-old appaloosa; Bree, 8-year-old quarter horse; Summer, 6-year-old paint; Clancy, 2-year-old quarter horse.

The animals’ story, as told by Funnell: “It’s quite the menagerie. We had two of our own labs, and then my teenage daughter raised a lab for leader dogs for the blind, and you get them when they’re 7 or 8 weeks old, and you go back to school at a year, and he got rejected. He failed. When they don’t make it as leader dogs, whoever raised the puppy gets the first chance to take them back. So we took him back. That’s how we ended up with three labs. Three labs are a lot in the house, but we couldn’t turn him down. He’s a doll, but for leader dogs, they have to be super special, and he just didn’t have a long enough attention span to be a leader dog.

“The goats, my daughter showed in 4-H. And the four horses, my husband is into horses now, and he enjoys training and riding. He spends more time with the horses than anyone.

“As most pet birds, they are very one-person birds, so she likes me. She likes my mother-in-law. She loves to be out with me. She’ll ride on my shoulder. If I do things around the house, like clean, she’ll just sit on my shoulder.”

Dr. Steve Harry, Dupont Veterinary Clinic

Pets: Paisley, 1-year-old English setter; cattle, and a barn cat.

Paisley’s story, as told by Harry: “She has been absolutely perfect for us. She’s sweet. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She’s small, about 30 pounds. She’s intelligent. She’s been real easy to train. Just loves people, loves being with you, and her favorites are probably going for walks and car rides.

“She’s infatuated with life and all of creation. Everything to her is a new adventure. She’s a bird dog, so she goes into point over almost anything – birds and rabbits and bugs – just about anything she’ll go into a point. She can’t decide what to go after next. She doesn’t necessarily go off after them. It’s more point. She goes deaf. You can run your hand in front of her, and she’s totally focused.

“We laughed when we first got her. We’d take her on a walk, and she would see a rabbit, and she would stand there, if you let her, literally 10 minutes in a point until she’s wobbling and ready to fall over, until you’d pull her out of it.”

Dr. Nancy Bruns, Pine Valley Veterinary

Pets: Bagger, 12-year-old English springer spaniel; Daisy, 3-year-old labradoodle; Gordy, Cosmo and Henry, domestic shorthair cats.

The animals’ story, as told by Bruns: “There are three male cats, and they’re very much part of the family. They’re not the kind of cats that hide when you come around; they’re always up, wanting to come out and see who’s there. They rule the dogs, let’s put it that way. They were there first, or at least some of them were.

“Daisy is very athletic and loves to chase the Frisbee and go jogging. She loves kids and always wants to be with my youngest daughter. … She’s a huge bone-chewer, and loves to play with her toys. She’ll run and get her favorite bone and bring it up to you. Bagger is very loyal to a fault. He never has to be on a leash. He follows you everywhere; and loves to go for car rides.

“We say that Bagger has a drinking problem because he makes a mess every time he drinks water.”

stwarden@jg.net

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