Life Lessons from My Veterinarian

Dear Barb:

Over the years, I’ve seen countless “patient” letters posted in vet offices and emergency care centers thanking veterinarians for caring for well-loved pet family members. There are often extraordinary circumstances, amazing outcomes and dramatic turns of health — as well as accounts of extra special end of life care.

These heartfelt testimonials always draw me in, and I often think about those letters long after I leave my appointment.

Today, I decided it was time to write my own letter.

Happy birthday pug man.

Happy birthday pug man.


A letter simply to say thanks. Today, Ernie the Pug turns 14 years old.

He’s happy, spunky, healthy – and hungry as ever. And wow, am I grateful.

Not that we haven’t had our share of medical dramas. We’ve survived cancer (twice), bladder surgery, punctured eye balls, a torn ACL, swallowed bottle caps, dozens of pulled teeth, infections, and a host of other mysterious illnesses I can’t even recall.

But today, he’s a remarkably awesome old dude. In no small part, because of you.

Through the dog care journey with Ernie I’ve learned so much. I no longer take medicine and Western solutions at face value. I know there’s always more to the story. Look deeper. Think wider. Don’t settle for the textbook answer. I now have a real appreciation that a holistic, open, integrative approach – not just to physical health, but to all of life – is the way to go.

Perhaps I would have come to those conclusions at any vet office. I doubt it. But I suppose, maybe, that could be true.

But the reason I’m moved to write this letter is much bigger. The difference is, Barb, that when you look at Ernie the Pug—you don’t see symptoms—you see his spirit.

You embody the belief that every creature deserves to be seen. Really seen. Whether they come with four legs, two wings, dorsal fins or any other type of packaging, your patients each receive undivided attention and incredible compassion.

You honor the individual animal, and know that they have much more to teach us than we do them.

And THIS beautiful and rare approach is how you are changing the world.

Not just for your patients, but for the two-legged human animals who also witness your gifts. And I just thought you should know. I don’t just consider you “my dog’s vet.” I think of you a mentor, and an inspiration for how I strive to approach person, every animal. Just think what the world would be like if we all treated each other with such reverence and respect?

So, I thank you for every one of these 14 candles on the birthday pup cake. Ernie, on the other hand, is just thankful for the pup cake. And on that note, I think I’ll join him, and make a wish that we'll get to do this again next year.

Much love,

Jess + Ernie


Barbara Royal, DVM, CVA, founder and owner of The Royal Treatment Veterinary Center, is an internationally-renowned pioneer in complementary medicine and physical rehabilitation. A passionate advocate of commonsense and cutting-edge approaches to optimal animal health, Dr. Royal provides a bridge between Western and Eastern medicine. Her first book, “The Royal Treatment:  A Natural Approach to Wildly Healthy Pets” was published September 2013.

Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. Wild Wisdom is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time. Promise.

Leave a comment