In today’s veterinary blog, excerpts from a client’s letter whose family recently lost their beloved family friend, Zack.

Losing a pet–one of life’s most painful experiences. At WestVet, to put it simply, we love animals. We love how they enrich our lives and make the world a better place. We quickly become attached to our furry clients (and to their people, too) and when they pass away from advanced illnesses or extreme injury, we feel that loss acutely. The Newell family sent us this wonderful letter describing Zack’s personality and place in their family and his journey with us at WestVet. They invited us to share it and we thank them for their sweet note and for sharing their dear friend with us for a few days. 

To the staff at WestVet,

Sometimes a thank you just not enough, however, first and foremost, THANK YOU!

To begin, I would like to share a little about our story.

My name is Kelly Newell. My best friend and loving pal was Zack, a 120 lb, nine-year-old beautiful Golden Retriever.A tribute to Zack Newell, beloved family member. I raised Zack from a 10-week-old puppy. Every place we went, people would stop us and tell us how beautiful he was. What you may not know is how beautiful he was on the inside.

Zack was smart, loving, and fun. He was the same age as three of my grandchildren and we raised him right along with them—they all adored him. They played together, laid on him, cuddled with him, etc. If he thought they were fighting or risking an injury, he put himself right in the middle, I think he thought that they were his pack.

He had a mild and gentle temperament. Zack Newell, beloved family friend on Christmas morning with his people.On a visit with my mother-in-law he allowed a new kitten to sniff him, swat his nose, and then be the boss of that friendly (and long term) relationship. He had a great judge of character. Once, when walking in a remote area, a stranger stepped out from behind some bushes. Normally, Zack was quick to wag his tail and wait for the petting to commence. Not this time. Zack stepped between me and the man and emitted a low, deep growl. The man said, “Wow. He’s a big dog,” and went on his way. I don’t know the man’s intentions, but I know Zack’s. He was ensuring his people were safe.

Often my older children joked that Zack was my favorite child. Most days, they were right!

I noticed that Zack was not himself. We visited our family vet several times over a couple months. Tests and exams were performed, but there was nothing apparent in the results. When we were travelling, Zack remained in the loving care of my adult son. He gave me daily health update and when he reported a new symptom—a cough—he took Zack in for additional X-rays. These showed Zack had Megaesophagus (The Canine Health Foundation describes Megaesophagus as “a condition in which the muscles of the esophagus lose their tone and are no longer able propel food into the stomach.”)

Upon our return, we struggled to hand feed Zack small meals every two hours to help him keep the food down. After a particularly rough night, I brought him to WestVet. Dr. Curtis Brandt, WestVet ER veterinarian, immediately started an IV, anti-nausea medications, an antibiotic, and ran some additional diagnostic tests. Zack Newell, resting peacefully during his final days at WestVet Animal ER Hospital.While he was at WestVet, he was kept in a lower “suite” kennel, this enabled me to just crawl right in and cuddle with him—something I did for several hours. An MRI was recommended to pinpoint Zack’s condition as his health was deteriorating. When that was complete, we received the devastating diagnosis, we learned that our sweet Zack had a large brain tumor.

We were devastated. My husband and I gathered nearby family members so that we could say our good-byes.

I still can’t talk about Zack without crying. Most days I still cry. I miss him terribly. Our loss has been extremely difficult. He wasn’t just a pet; he was our baby and our dear friend.

This is where my thank you comes in. Your staff members—from the front desk to technicians to doctors were compassionate and understanding. I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t have spent his final hours with him.

What an exceptional staff. As I was back in the treatment area, I witnessed how all the animals were taken care of. Often, during my time cuddling in Zack’s cage, employees and staff did not even know I was there. This gave me a chance to observe your staff in action. You are truly wonderful.

Thank you again. I know that you did all that you could for Zack, that you made him as comfortable as possible with medication, a warm bed, and kindness.

Your kindness toward our family will never be forgotten.

The Newell Family


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