For at least the last seven years, I have worked with the folks at Oregon State University’s vet school in a variety of ways. While working at Heartland, I helped coordinate animals in need of surgery to fill the need for students who needed surgical experience. Every fall we rounded up 150 shelter animals who needed to be spayed/neutered. I also got to work with the vets, students and staff at OSU to help shelter animals get specialized surgery they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have.

I have always been impressed with the folks I have gotten to know through this work. Last week I got to see the vet school from another perspective, this time as a client in their Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Our Great Dane, Romeo, had a very suspicious swelling on his leg and we were referred for a consult with an oncologist. While the news about Romeo wasn’t great – he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, more on this later – the experience we had while at OSU was.

The cause for concern

Every single person we worked with was compassionate and helpful. From Mandy who took my first phone call and got us appointment right away to Josie who checked Romeo out in the evening, everyone was wonderful.

Mandy was cheerful, pleasant, and knew what we needed and how to get it. She got us set up for an appointment immediately, so I changed out of my slippers and headed to Corvallis with Romeo.

Our fourth year vet student who took the history and did Romeo’s initial exam was wonderful. She is going to be a great vet soon. She was easy to talk to, showed compassion, and was calm with Romeo who can be a bit nervous in new situations. She walked us through the process and made sure she knew what I was hoping to get out of the consult.

The intern then joined us a bit later to discuss the diagnostics they were recommending. He did a very nice job outlining possible treatment options if things did turn out to be cancer (which we all thought was going to be the case).

So then Romeo went (reluctantly) with the OSU folks for an afternoon of xrays and tests.

When it was time to go back to pick him up, our fourth year vet student, intern and oncologist met with me and went over everything from test results to treatment options in great detail. They made it very clear that they were presenting every option they have and leaving us the decision of what will work best for us without pressure to try the newest, most expensive treatment just because it exists.

I absolutely loved the written information they sent home with us. We got a summary of Romeo’s test results and thorough descriptions of all the treatment options we discussed along with cost estimates, making it very easy for Trent and me to go over the information together that evening.

We got Romeo’s additional pain meds and went over dosing options before wrapping up with our medical crew.

Back in the lobby we met Josie. Turns out Josie, who did our final paperwork and payment (gulp), recognized me from Heartland. She adopted a cat from there in 2004 and said I helped with her adoption. Just because it’s habit, I asked who the cat was, not expecting to remember any cats from that long ago. But when she said it was Muzby, I immediately recalled the round faced flame point. Muzby was a special guy who had reminded me so much of my Mugsy, the first cat I adopted from Heartland.

At close to 6pm we were finished with Romeo’s big day at the vet school. The news we got wasn’t good, but the information and support we got to help Romeo was amazing. Thanks to everyone at OSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. (Oh, and Romeo says thanks for the pain meds.)