I suppose it's not a big surprise that my life and career has revolved around animals. I am pretty sure the "animal crazy" gene is embedded deep in our family DNA somewhere. Although I am the only one who has taken on a career caring for animals, the rest of my family are all long time animal lovers and have had pets most of their lives. But there is one family member in particular I would like to pay tribute to here. My Aunt Patty has rescued and cared for orphaned animals needing TLC and often times signficant medical care and expense to keep them going. She goes above and beyond and is selfless when it comes to caring for the creatures in need. In addition to rescue and care, these lucky animals usually land a forever home with her.
I know there are countless animals she has saved over the years. I'm certain that I don't hear about most of them but there are a few that are top of mind for me. Her rescues are not limited to dogs and cats; if an animal needs help, she is committed. They all have a story that lead to their resuce. Living in a rural area, most are stray animals that are hungry needing food and a warm place to sleep while some are babies or have found themselves in harm's way needing more extensive care. Fencer is the first animal I remember her saving. She was a young dog they found hung up in a fence with a severely injured rear leg. Ultimately, the leg needed amputation due to the severity of the injury. Patty nursed her back to health and Fencer then lived out the rest of her life as the family pet. She was a lucky dog who despite her rough beginning, lived a long, happy life well into her teens. Others rescues of interest are the baby crow "Buzz" that she fed into adulthood who would sit on the back porch with them during the summer, the baby raccoon who's mother was killed on the road, and the dairy calf who was born blind with a severe infection and not fit for life on a dairy farm. They are not all happy endings but there is no doubt that during their time with her, they are loved and well cared for.
When I graduated from vet school, I took a job nearly 3 hours away from my family. Unfortunately this distance does not allow me to help much with veterinary care for the family pets or the rescued animals that Patty takes on. I did have the opportunity to visit a couple weeks ago and see her most recent rescues and examine a couple of them. She has an area in the basement that she calls the "hospital". It is a dedicated area where she nurses the sick ones back to health and closely monitors her geriatric pets. Her most recent cat rescue was a kitten "that blew in with the last storm". He showed up starving and flea infested at the back door during a thunder storm. I'm happy to report he is making a speedy recovery and counting his lucky stars he found her back door. I don't want to forget her husband Duane. Duane is a long time animal lover as well and shares in the care of the creatures great and small that they bring into their lives.
There are thousands and thousands of selfless people who participate in animal rescue every day. They are all heroes and should be recognized as such. This is my way of recognizing a true hero in my family who continues to open her doors to helpless beasts needing her loving care.