The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 13, 2005


Country Lines:
In appreciation of veterinarians
If we are fortunate in this life, we benefit from a healing presence, someone who is always there when needed, in times of distress or joy. For some, this person is a minister, for others, a psychiatrist. Often for me, it has been my veterinarians.

When we first moved to Carlisle over 20 years ago, I was thrilled to find out that there was a veterinary hospital just down the road from me. I had previously been schlepping my dogs and cat from Concord to Newton for health care, quite a nerve-wracking ride on Route 128 with a howling dog or a vomiting cat.

Even better than its proximity, though, were the hospital's veterinarians who welcomed my menagerie. Drs. Peter Morey and Betty Johnston presented a reassuring study in opposites. Morey was the "hail-fellow-well-met" vet who, knowing that I worked for the town newspaper, loved to talk town politics with me while he peered into ears and other orifices best left unmentioned. Johnston, a petite woman who somehow remained unfazed even by the most obstreporous of animals, had a serenity about her that helped to soothe even the most nervous of pet-owners (me). As a team, they were a perfect combination.

Over the years, these patient veterinarians have treated a total of eleven Zezima dogs and two Zezima cats, through all the expected and unexpected highs and lows. They have been my rock as I watched one dog succumb to cancer, another to an auto-immune disease that made her body reject her spine. When our male Boston Terrier Mike's heart began to give out late one Christmas night, Dr. Morey came in to the office early to ease the dog he had always called "Iron Mike" out of this world. Even in his distress, Mike rallied enough to wag his tail at the sight of his favorite doctor that last morning. When our tiniest terrier could no longer fight her diabetes and had to be put to sleep, I was moved to see Dr. Johnston choking back tears. In all, these doctors have guided my family through the difficult process of euthanasia five times, and each time was followed by a sympathy note or a personal phone call that went a long way in easing our pain.

Dr. Morey left the practice last year, and last month I learned that Dr. Johnston would be leaving at the end of April after decades of service here in Carlisle. I have so much to thank these doctors for. They had the amazing ability to establish a special rapport with each pet they treated. Only Dr. Johnston could put up with our neurotic dog Ben, who was abandoned as a puppy at Tufts Animal Hospital. But since it was Dr. Johnston who told us about the litter, wondering if we'd like another dog, I've always suspected that she's felt responsible in a small way for introducing us to his beloved lunacy. When our dog Emma lost the use of her back legs, Dr. Morey presented her with a specially fitted cart he had ordered and laughed as he watched her burn rubber through the halls of his offices. I have always treasured the way they could find something wonderfully positive to say about each scraggly puppy I had found somewhere and fallen in love with. At every point in my animal-loving life here in Carlisle, they have been my reassuring resources, two Dr. Spocks of the animal world.

The good doctors' influence will be felt long after they have stopped treating my pets. Due, in part, to decades of accompanying me to vet appointments, my daughter chose to major in animal science in college and has begun a career in animal care. In one of her college admission essays, she talked about watching the loving way her animals had been treated and how it fed her ambition to offer the same compassion to animals and their families.

As Dr. Morey moves north to New Hampshire and Dr. Johnston begins her practice at Acton Animal Hospital, I hope they both realize the profound effect they have had on generations of Carlisle's four-legged denizens and the people who love them. I hope they know how grateful we all are.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito