Yearly Archives: 2017

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Fit vs. Fat: Cat Edition

By Terri Heck

We all want our feline friends to be happy and healthy. By taking an active role in their weight management we can achieve that goal. Overweight cats can be predisposed to diabetes, heart and joint disease among other health issues. Discuss a weight loss program with your veterinarian to determine the best approach for your cat. Age, current condition and other medical factors need to be assessed in order to have a comprehensive, successful and safe weight loss plan. Weight loss in cats must be accomplished very slowly – 1-2% per week is recommended. Too rapid weight loss can result in severe liver disease in the cat.


In natural surroundings a feral cat has to hunt for its food. Food acquired is accompanied by physical exertion. There is rarely too much input in that setting. Import can be regulated for our house dwelling cats.

  1. Drop the amount of food fed 10-15%, at most, to start.
  2. Feed a measured amount twice daily. Avoid free feeding.
  3. Change to a less caloric dense food.
  4. Discuss prescription diets available for overweight cats with your veterinarian.
  5. Toss measured kibble one at a time–have the cat work for the food.
  6. Alternate the location of the bowl throughout the house–have the cat hunt for the food.
  7. Food dispensing toys are available for the cat. This is another way for them to work for the food.


Increasing output or exercise in conjunction with a healthy diet change can not only aid in weight loss but in the actual physical condition of the cat as well.

  1. Supervised play with cat safe toys.
  2. Rotate toys so there is always “something new”.
  3. Wind-up toys.
  4. Interactive toys, i.e. fishing rod type toys.
  5. Tunnels, obstacle course, etc.
  6. Climbing posts.
  7. Add a playmate.
  8. Pick sedentary cat up and move to another area of the house.
  9. Leash walking for the trainable type.


Monitor your program and progress by weighing your cat every 3-4 weeks. Adjust diet and exercise to regulate and continue safe and effective weight loss. Remember 1-2% weight loss per week is the maximum recommended. As the pounds go down you may have the added advantage of your feline friend becoming more active. Achieving your weight loss goal for your cat will be instrumental in improving his/her quality of life. Remember to start with an exam for your cat and discussion with your veterinarian. Certain medical conditions can lead to obesity and lethargy. Annual exams continue to be very important for the overall health of the cat. Above all enjoy your cat and your relationship!

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Vaccine Reactions in Pets

Vaccine Reactionsby Allison Frankowski, CVT, Winding Hill

What is a vaccine reaction? Well, first we have to know what a vaccine is so that is were I am going to start. The definition of a vaccine is a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease (Google Dictionary). So, the main goal of a vaccine is to provide immunity, which is a stimulation of the immune system. This process activates the inflammatory responses. Now we have reached the vaccine reaction potential.

Thus, vaccine reactions in pets can happen immediately or  anytime in the 48 hours following a vaccination. Here is a list of short-term expected mild reactions that can happen after vaccination:

*Joint and/or muscle soreness
* Lethargy
*Mild Fever
*Reduced Appetite/ Loss of Appetite
* Reluctance to walk/run
*Pain at the injection site

Vaccine reactions can be an allergic reaction to any part of the vaccine, including stabilizers, preservatives, and the actual infectious organism.

Some more life threatening or serious reactions include:

 *Difficulty breathing
*Facial Swelling
* Itchy / bumpy skin (Hives)
 *Sudden death

If any of these symptoms occur, please seek medical help IMMEDIATELY!

There are also injection site reactions, which are different than vaccine reactions. These include:

*Site of injection is still painful after 2 days
*Lump that continues to grow at injection site
*Lump that is still present after 1 month

So, how do we prevent vaccine reactions well?

*Be sure your veterinarian knows your pet had a reaction, what the reaction was, and what vaccine caused the reaction
*Avoid giving several vaccinations at once, but rather spread them over time
*Don’t vaccinate at a vaccination clinic if your dog has had a reaction before, because they are not equipped to individualize treatment which your pet needs
*In extreme cases, avoid the vaccination altogether, (if your veterinarian feels this is the proper course).

If your pet does have a reaction, there are ways your veterinarian can manage them by pre-medicating with antihistamines and/or corticosteroids to help your pet react normally to vaccines. (vaccines: allergic reactions)

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Pet Food Nutrition Advice

by Dr. Patty Gabig

Pet-food-regulatory-1704PETlabel (002)The​ ​Pet​ ​food​ ​industry​ ​has​ ​grown​ ​so​ ​much​ ​in​ ​the​ ​past​ ​decade​ ​that​ ​deciding​ ​what​ ​type​ ​of​ ​food​ ​to​ ​feed​ ​your pet​ ​can​ ​be​ ​an​ ​ordeal​ ​and​ ​even​ ​worse​ ​when​ ​you​ ​have​ ​a​ ​pet​ ​with​ ​a​ ​dietary​ ​intolerance​ ​or​ ​disease,​ ​like kidney​ ​failure.​ ​​ ​It’s​ ​hard​ ​not​ ​to​ ​be​ ​persuaded​ ​by​ ​all​ ​the​ ​advice​ ​“out​ ​there”​ ​from:​ ​​ ​advertisers,​ ​breeders,​ ​the pet​ ​store​ ​check​ ​out​ ​clerk​ ​or​ ​on-line​ ​(Food​ ​Babe,​ ​The​ ​Dog​ ​Food​ ​Advisor)​ ​to​ ​name​ ​a​ ​few.​ ​​ ​Who​ ​to​ ​trust?​ ​The best​ ​way​ ​to​ ​make​ ​an​ ​informed​ ​decision​ ​is​ ​with​ ​your​ ​pet’s​ ​veterinarian.​ ​Your​ ​vet​ ​understands​ ​your​ ​pet and​ ​can​ ​help​ ​you​ ​find​ ​some​ ​good​ ​options​ ​or​ ​point​ ​you​ ​in​ ​the​ ​right​ ​direction.

Nutrition​ ​Tips/Advice
-If​ ​you​ ​pay​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​for​ ​a​ ​pet​ ​food​ ​it​ ​doesn’t​ ​guarantee​ ​that​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​good​ ​diet.
-It’s​ ​not​ ​the​ ​ingredients​ ​but​ ​the​​ ​​nutrients ​that​ ​are​ ​most​ ​important​ ​in​ ​a​ ​good​ ​food.
-If​ ​the​ ​label​ ​does​ ​not​ ​list​ ​the​ ​calories,​ ​put​ ​it​ ​back.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​a​ ​red​ ​flag​ ​for​ ​possible​ ​quality​ ​control​ ​issues.
-If​ ​the​ ​product​ ​does​ ​NOT​ ​indicate​ ​that​ ​it​ ​meets​ ​AAFCO​ ​requirements,​ ​don’t​ ​buy​ ​it.
-Recipes​ ​for​ ​homemade​ ​or​ ​raw​ ​meat​ ​diets​ ​MUST​ ​meet​ ​AAFCO​ ​requirements
-Many​ ​on-line​ ​or​ ​in​ ​print​ ​​ ​for​ ​homemade​ ​recipes​ ​and​ ​raw​ ​meat​ ​diets​ ​do​ ​NOT​ ​meet​ ​AAFCO​ ​requirements
-Consult​ ​with​ ​a​ ​veterinary​ ​nutritionist​ ​if​ ​you​ ​are​ ​going​ ​to​ ​feed​ ​a​ ​homemade​ ​or​ ​raw​ ​meat​ ​diet.
-“Pre-Mix”​ ​diets​ ​where​ ​you​ ​just​ ​add​ ​the​ ​meat​ ​usually​ ​do​ ​not​ ​meet​ ​AAFCO​ ​requirements.
-The​ ​first​ ​ingredient​ ​on​ ​a​ ​pet​ ​food​ ​label​ ​does​ ​not​ ​always​ ​mean​ ​that​ ​that​ ​is​ ​the​ ​main​ ​ingredient​ ​your​ ​pet​ ​is getting​ ​when​ ​fed.
-Pet​ ​food​ ​labels​ ​can​ ​be​ ​misleading.​ ​In​ ​order​ ​to​ ​really​ ​tell​ ​what​ ​%​ ​protein,​ ​carbohydrate​ ​or​ ​fat​ ​is​ ​in​ ​a product​ ​you​ ​must​ ​calculate​ ​it.​ ​​ ​A​ ​good​ ​calculator​ ​can​ ​be​ ​found​ ​at:​ ​​ Click​ ​on​ ​the​ ​“​help”​ ​button and​ ​select​ ​“​guaranteed analysis converter”​ ​from​ ​the​ ​drop​ ​down​ ​menu.​ ​Enter​ ​the​ ​pet​ ​food​ ​product information​ ​in​ ​here. 
-Cats​ ​are​ ​​carnivores,​ ​blueberries​ ​may​ ​sound​ ​great​ ​but​ ​they​ ​gain​ ​no​ ​nutritional​ ​value​ ​from​ ​them.
-The​ ​term​ ​“human​ ​grade”​ ​can​ ​be​ ​misleading.​ ​If​ ​a​ ​pet​ ​food​ ​lists​ ​itself​ ​as​ ​human​ ​grade​ ​then​ ​ALL​ ​of​ ​the ingredients​ ​must​ ​be​ ​human​ ​grade.​ ​Not​ ​just​ ​one​ ​ingredient,​ ​like​ ​chicken,​ ​for​ ​example.

Reliable​ ​Internet​ ​Sources
-Pet​ ​Nutrition​ ​Alliance​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​
-Petfoodology-Tufts​ ​University VMC​ ​Clinical​ ​Nutrition​ ​Service
-Blog​ ​by​ ​Dr.​ ​Lisa​ ​Weeth​ ​DVM​ ​DACVN​ ​​ ​​
-AAFCO​ ​(Association​ ​of​ ​American​ ​Feed​ ​Control​ ​Officials​ ​information​ ​for​ ​Pet​ ​Owners)
-Q&A​ ​with​ ​Rebecca​ ​Remillard​ ​Phd,​ ​dvm,davcn-search​ ​various​ ​topics​ ​​ ​​ Select:​ ​“Ask​ ​the​ ​Nutritionist”​ ​from​ ​the​ ​menu​ ​bar

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Pet Fire Safety Tips

With a little help from Terri Heck

1. Use flameless candles.
2. Unplug or hide electric cords.
3. Install child-proof stove knobs or use knob covers.
4. Never use electric blankets or heating pads unattended.
5. Have loop style leashes and carriers by doors in case pets need rescued in an emergency.
6. Avoid glass bowls on wooden decks and porches. Concentrated sunlight through glass can ignite wooden surfaces.
7. Consider monitored smoke detectors.
8. Have window stickers to alert first responders that pets are in the house. Free pet safety packs are available through the ASPCA.

Fire Safety

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: National Pet Preparedness Month

By: Elianna Brook, WHVC technician

We’ve all at one point or another had worries about natural disasters. Whether water, wind, fire, or other natural anomaly, the thought of mother nature belting out her best (and worst) can be a scary thought. But have you ever thought to plan for your pet’s well-being if such an event were to occur? It’s easy enough for us to hop in our vehicle and leave town if need be, but when it comes to keeping our furry friends safe, there are other steps that need to be taken.

Being prepared for your pets during a natural disaster means more than having a bag packed for yourself and a space in your car. Have a plan ready ahead of time. Microchips, collars, and ID tags are imperative in the event your pet goes missing. Often people move or change their phone numbers and forget to update their dog’s (or cat’s) tags and microchip information, so be sure to keep those things up to date. Some of these events require an owner to bunker down in a shelter or travel to a family or friend’s residence that may not allow for your pets to join. If warning of a natural disaster is to arise, it would be wise to call around to local shelters (both human and animal), kennels, and hotels to see if your pets are welcome to stay there during the storm.

It’s never recommended to leave your pet at home should an evacuation occur. If an unforeseen event should arise while you are not home, having a friend, relative, or neighbor handy to help your animals is a smart alternative. Be sure to have “rescue alert” stickers at the entry ways of your house. These stickers alert emergency responders as to how many animals are in the home and what species they are. If you or someone else is able to take the animals from your house, don’t forget to write “evacuated” on the stickers so anyone coming after the disaster knows not to look for the listed animals.

Along with having your necessary belongings packed, an owner should also have an evacuation kit prepared for their pet(s). Things to include in this would be their food (in an airtight, waterproof container), water, bowls, medications (and treats or other things necessary to give the meds), litter/litterbox for cats, poop bags, a can opener, toys, bedding, medical records (any current prescriptions, vaccine history, microchip number, etc.), dish soap or other liquid detergent, an extra leash/collar/harness, blanket(s), a flashlight, and pillowcases for cats. The last item listed may sound strange, but anyone with cats knows they may not be easy to get into a carrier on short notice so in the event of an emergency, a pillowcase is a safe alternative (not for long term housing, but if a quick escape is necessary). It’s also a good idea to have pre-made flyers in case your little one goes missing.

After a natural disaster, it’s not uncommon to encounter unfamiliar animals who have lost their way. It’s best to not approach these animals. They may be carrying disease (rabies, distemper, leptospirosis, etc.) or not be behaving normally due to disorientation or fear. Be sure to have your pets up to date with all necessary vaccines and on preventatives like Heartgard for heartworm disease. Pending the weather, there may be more mosquitoes or ticks afterward and those pesky little buggers are the transmitters of heartworm and Lyme disease. It’s also advised that an owner leash walk their pet for at least a few days after a natural disaster as the environment may have changed and can cause confusion. A dog who was once trusted to stay in the yard may wander off not realizing he or she is doing so. Watch for downed power lines and other hazardous conditions.

Natural disasters can be terrifying, overwhelming, and occur without warning. Being prepared in advance is key to the welfare of both you and your pets. Like anything else in life, there’s no guarantee that this information will provide 100% safety and security during an unpredictable event such as a hurricane, flood, or forest fire, but giving your pets the best chance for a happy, healthy life afterward is definitely something worth planning for.






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Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Treat or Toxin?


Fruits and Vegetables for the Dog

Treat or Toxin?

By Terri Heck, CVT

shutterstock_173699618There is a long-standing disagreement on whether or not dogs are true carnivores. Primarily they are meat eaters but in the wild they ingested far more than muscle meat. Contents of the stomach and intestines of their prey were often of vegetation origin. Wolves and wild dogs often munch on plants and berries. There is a basis for fruits and vegetables to be part of canine nutrition.

We enjoy giving treats to our canine companions. Bits of fruits and vegetables can provide healthy nutrients and are often less calorie dense than many dog treats. Important to stress: Not all fruits and vegetables are safe – some are actually toxic.

Sensible and Safe: Apples (no seeds), bananas, pumpkin, green beans, romaine lettuce and spinach, peaches (no pits!), watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, mango, cucumbers, green beans to give a few ideas. Moderation is the key with any of these.

CAUTIONS: Grapes, raisins avocado, onion, garlic, asparagus and cherries should be avoided. The red part of tomatoes are fine but the green stems are toxic. Mushrooms should always be on the “do not give” list.

Small bits of fruits and vegetables are typically less calorie dense and healthier than dog treats. Dried fruits prepared without added sugar, frozen green beans – fresh is great but consider these options as well. Enjoy treating your dog to a healthy snack.

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Have a “Cat Happy” Visit


By Dr. Liz Dailey

The Staff at Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic loves cats and dogs! We also realize cats are not little dogs. Here, we make every effort to meet your cat’s unique needs. Our goal is to ensure your cat has as easy an appointment as possible.

Feliway, a cat specific pheromone, sprayed about 15 minutes prior to placing your cat in the crate for travel, will decrease the stress the car ride may cause. This pheromone encourages a feeling of familiarity and security. It helps generate comfort and reassurance while cats cope with challenging situations.

In an effort to meet these goals and ensure the best experience for your cat, we follow specific cat friendly parameters. The veterinary visit begins at home, placing your cat in 20170210_160325the carrier. Cats love dark, small places. A carrier crate is perfect in affording a safe, comforting spot. Place the crate in a room your cat spends a lot of time, add comfortable bedding, treats, toys and a towel over the crate, your cat won’t be able to resist. Allowing your cat access to the crate at all times will facilitate an easy transfer for travel.

The safest place for your cat in the car is on the floor behind the passenger seat with the front seat moved as far back as possible, wedging the crate in place. Once you arrive at WHVC we do our best to get your cat into the exam room as quickly as possible. We realize the waiting room can be stressful.

Once in the exam room, the veterinary technician will take apart the carrier, if possible, allowing your cat to become comfortable with the surroundings. Cats may remain in the carrier, hide under a towel, or explore. During the appointment we attempt to move quietly, slowly, gently and deliberately. We keep our voices down. Our goal is to provide a safe, non threatening environment where cats can be examined calmly and effectively. We strive to avoid reaching “the threshold” beyond which nervous cats become angry, frightened or aggressive. After all, we understand cats do not realize that restraint, examination, and drawing blood are an effort to help them.

Our staff also regularly attends continuing medical education sessions. We utilize the most current feline research to best understand feline body language and facial and behavioral cues. When you reach home remember that your cat smells very different to other household cats and conflict could ensue. If necessary, place the opened carrier in a solitary space to allow the feline patient to eat, rest, and smell “right.”

We strive to keep your cat healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Meet Our Veterinarians


We here at Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic love our vets. No seriously, we really love our vets. And we know you do as well. So to show our love for these amazing ladies, we thought we would make this month’s blog all about them. Without further ado, here are the wonderful, wild, white-coated women of Winding Hill!

Our medical director, Dr. Patricia Gabig, has been practicing since 1993. She completed her undergraduate in medical technology at Bloomsburg State College and spent 2 years in Italy studying veterinary medicine. She received her veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania. It’s thanks to swimming and her overnight weekend shift at the William Pepper Stat Lab that she survived it all! Currently she has two cats, Murfe and Fiona, and likes to relax by reading, biking, swimming, and painting. According to Dr. Gabig, the most unusual pet that she’s gotten to work with was a python with a prolapsed rectum.


Dr. Anne Barnhart also graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has been out in the field for 30 years. The thing that kept her sane through vet school was doing obedience and show classes with her Russian Wolfhound. While in school, Dr. Barnhart says that coolest thing she was able to do was to work with the ferrets at Marshal Farms in New York. There she learned about their needs and habits and also how to spay, neuter, and descent them. Currently, she likes to read, knit, travel, and care for her 2 Tunis sheep, 3 Finn sheep, 14 chickens (4 Rhode Island Reds, 5 Easter Eggers, 4 Barred Rocks, and 1 Dominique) 1 rooster, and 2 cats, and take walks with her dog, Barend.


Dr. Edwards did her undergraduate at West Virginia University and attended veterinary school at THE Ohio State University. While at OSU, she said that one of the coolest things she got to see was the Budweiser Clydesdales, who always stayed overnight at the teaching hospital when they were passing through town. Aside from getting to visit with the amazing Clydesdales, she said that her pets and her husband are what got her through vet school. Currently, she lives in a beautiful farmhouse with her husband, 6 cats, and some soon-to-arrive honeybees. To relax she enjoys gardening, reading, and canning homegrown food.


Next up is Dr. Catherine Davis, who tells me that she’s been practicing for over 20 years but won’t give us anything more specific in case it dates her. She’s another graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and relied on her friends and pets to get her through. She says that her favorite part of vet school was all of it. Nowadays she spends her time hanging out with family and friends, running, and caring for her pets (2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 kids, and husband!). The most unusual animal that she has gotten to work with was a sugar glider that had to have a tumor removed from it’s eyeball.

Dr. Davis, Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg Area Vet

While born and raised in New Jersey, Dr. Elizabeth Dailey is a PA girl through and through. She did her undergrad at Dickinson College and then moved on to Drexel University to get her masters in Microbiology/Immunology. From there she attended vet school at, you guessed it, the University of Pennsylvania. While there, she was fortunate to have the opportunity to anesthetize a tiger for an ultrasound! These days, though, she can be found reading, skiing, cycling, and walking her dogs. At the moment she has a hound mix, a cat, and fish, but very soon she’ll be welcoming a Doberman puppy into the family.

Dr. Davis, Harrisburg Area Veterinarian

The newest veterinarian to join the Winding Hill family is Dr. Tracy Venier. She graduated Ross University in 2012 and along with her diploma she brought back a coconut retriever named Blackie. You can read the story of their adventures in January’s blog post. Going to school on a tropical island definitely had its advantages (besides the sun, surf, and sand). While on St. Kitts she was able to work with the local green vervet monkeys! While she may not have any monkeys, she currently shares her life with her cat, Mia, and her two horses, Valentino and Pearl Snaps. When not out riding her horses, Dr. Venier enjoys decorating and looking for antiques.

Dr. Venier, Central PA Veterinarian

As varied as our veterinarians are, I think it was interesting that every single one of them knew that they wanted to be a vet since they were young girls. It appears that they were all smitten with the profession from a young age and haven’t ever stopped loving it! Below are two questions that they answered for me and that I thought merited being printed in their own words:

What is your favorite part of being a veterinarian?
Dr. Edwards: The clients – being able to help them understand and care for their pets.
Dr. Gabig: I like to figure out tough cases, but the downside is that you have limited time to do it.
Dr. Barnhart: Seeing the clients and their interactions with their pets, knowing how important the pet connection is to our health. I also enjoy solving mysteries to find an answer if possible for a pet’s illness.
Dr. Davis: The interaction with people and their pets.
Dr. Dailey: The animals, the owners, and the sense of camaraderie with the staff.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to enter the veterinary profession?
Dr. Venier: Be prepared to work hard and to also be in debt.
Dr. Dailey: Do it! Keep at it. Persevere. It’s a great profession.
Dr. Edwards: Get lots of experience before applying so that you are familiar with the field of veterinary medicine and the types of job options – it’s a big financial investment.
Dr. Barnhart: Try to volunteer or work in the area you think you want to enter (zoo medicine, large animal, etc.) because you are going to spend at least 8 years in school after high school and a significant amount of money to pay for your education.
Dr. Gabig: Don’t just think of small animal practice as all you can do. There are many opportunities to do other things regarding research, pharmaceuticals, engineering, food supply, and even being an astronaut.
Dr. Davis: Work at a vet clinic first to see what it’s really like.

Veterinarian Blog | Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic: Woman’s Best Friend


By Dr. Tracy Venier, DVM

“The journey of life is sweeter when traveled with a dog”
It was during my second semester of Veterinary School when Blackie and I began our wonderful journey together.

Blackie was one of our clinic dogs at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. The clinic dogs were instrumental in our training to learn anatomy, practice palpation, as well as practicing anesthesia and several other invaluable skills to further our education. These dogs also provided some stress relief and enrichment for students. In our second semester, students were assigned to walk and take care of the clinic dogs. Blackie was a mostly black with some tan, fuzzy 6 year old “Coconut Retriever.” This is what we fondly called many of the mixed breed island dogs.  It didn’t take me long to realize what a special dog Blackie was, and how lucky I was to find out that Blackie was up for adoption.

Blackie officially came to live with me during my 3rd semester. Together, we spent another 2 years on St. Kitts before embarking on our next journey together. Blackie was my protector, fondly, or not so fondly called “the lion” by many local Kittitians, as he let them know that this was his house and I was his girl. I tried to make Blackie into a beach dog, but soon realized he did not have an affinity for water, sand or the heat despite his Caribbean roots. We had many late nights together spent studying and cramming for exams. He was always there for me. 

Then, came our final semester at Ross. As it was almost a right of passage for Ross students to bring a dog, or two home with them as they departed the island, I was worried about getting Blackie on a plane home so I asked my good friend Danielle if she would fly down, spend a few days and take Blackie back to New York to meet my parents.

That month without Blackie was so lonely! I was so eager to return to him. As our time on the island was finished, Ross students complete their final year of training at a University teaching hospital in the US. I did my clinical training at Purdue University. With an even more rigorous schedule, unfortunately that meant a lot of time home alone for Blackie, but we soon found a horse barn close by to school where I would take lessons. I soon learned that Blackie, who remember was not a beach loving dog, loved being a barn dog and loved horses. Some of my fondest memories are riding around and Blackie would follow behind, always close by to me and the horses. He may have grown up as an “island dog,” but his true calling was as a barn dog. We had the best times at Foxton Farm, that even led to the purchase of my beloved Thoroughbred, Valentino.

As our time in Indiana drew to a close, that meant Vet School was officially completed! Blackie and I yet again set back to the East coast. He was the very best travel companion and he loved riding in the car. Blackie helped me through Vet School, clinical year and what followed as I transitioned into the real world of Veterinary Medicine.

My first year out in practice I was devastated when Blackie was diagnosed with malignant oral melanoma, a very aggressive cancer. How fortunate we were that surgery was very successful and with follow up visits with an Oncologist, Blackie did very well. 

A little over 2 years ago I took a leap of faith and decided to relocate and take a job with Winding Hill Veterinary Clinic. This was not an easy decision as it meant leaving behind family, friends and a place that I had called home for most of my life.  I can honestly say, having Blackie by my side made things much easier, and I also soon learned how wonderful everyone at WHVC would be to not only me but to Blackie also.

Blackie soon became the unofficial Winding Hill mascot as he would take many trips to work with me. He would pick his spot in the Doctors office where he liked to take naps, usually under Dr. Barnhart’s desk. He loved to attend our staff meetings so he could travel around from person to person to beg for pizza, Panera or whatever catered goodies were up for grabs. Blackie also loved coming to the clinic for his weekly therapeutic laser treatments with Nanaette, as she would focus on all of his sore, arthritic spots, and of course, treats were involved. His BFF Brittany also made him his own special platter of treats during his many visits, you can see Blackie was a very food motivated dog but he also loved his interaction with everyone at the clinic as well.

It was this past November that Blackie made his journey to the Rainbow Bridge. While I miss him every single day I am beyond thankful for our 7+ year journey together. My parents would often say how lucky Blackie was to have found me on St. Kitts, but I can honestly say that I was truly the lucky one to have found such a devoted, loyal and loving companion. 

I received so many wonderful messages from people that knew Blackie from our time in St. Kitts to Indiana, New York and beyond. I realized that Blackie touched other people’s lives also. My father, who didn’t grow up with dogs and who was admittedly a little timid of most dogs grew to share such a wonderful bond with Blackie. I’m convinced it was almost impossible to not love him, though I know I’m a little biased. Our journey together was one filled with many adventures, wonderful memories and a whole lot of love. And all of those things I will cherish forever.