My Dog, Tavi

Lately, I’ve had the privilege of helping my nephew and niece (Andy and Elizabeth Myers) as they expand their businesses. I’m excited to be their coach because it takes me back to the time when my own business partner, Allen Hager, and I started Right at Home.

At Allen’s suggestion, I’m guiding Andy and Elizabeth through the steps outlined in Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited. His book was on the best-seller list in the 1990s and the concepts were never truer than they are now. Gerber explains the Entrepreneurial Model for successful business development.

For this week’s assignment, I asked Andy and Elizabeth to look for examples of exceptional customer service. They are to document their experiences to discuss at our next meeting.  Yes, I used to be a corporate trainer.

Back in the day, we called this process “benchmarking.” Since I’ve been entrenched in writing fiction for the last decade, I couldn’t say if this term is still used. (Maybe my corporate training friends could leave a comment below to let me know.)

Aristotle

Because Andy’s and Elizabeth’s businesses relate to using intuition, I often quote Aristotle, the Father of Metaphysics, to illustrate a point. Today’s quote is, “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.”

Just the other day, I was reminded of a personal instance of exceptional customer service.

I ran into the veterinarian who cared for my two dogs and two cats for over 17 years. She is Dr. Barbara Teter, co-founder of The Pet Clinic in Omaha, Nebraska. And although my last pet, dog Henry Hager died five years ago, I’ll never forget the extraordinary service I received at Dr. Teter’s office.

I recall several fond memories of The Pet Clinic. The front desk staff had a wonderful way of greeting patients. They called clients by “Mr. or Mrs.” Everyone was pleasant. The office was kept exceptionally clean.  They had free treats for the pets. The technicians were patient and tender with reluctant animals. All this was remarkable enough, but what sealed me to Dr. Teter’s practice forever was the response she had to the emotional call I made letting her know it was time to euthanize my dog, Tavi.

Tavi and me

My Beloved Dog

I adopted Tavi from the animal shelter when she was three months old. She was a German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix with some other breed combined that kept her a slim 25-pounds. She was sweet, a little timid, and as fast as a greyhound.

Tavi was the first “unflushable” pet I ever had. Growing up, my brothers and I begged for a dog, but my parents didn’t want long-term pets. So we made do with temporary animals—fish, sea horses, a hamster, and a bird.

I had no clue how to handle a dog, so I read books and employed a trainer to help me. A former Marine, he’d trained German Shepherds for years. His regimented methods seemed harsh, but I used them because I didn’t know any better. (Where was “The Dog Whisperer” when I needed him?)

Tavi and I mastered housebreaking very quickly, which puffed up my confidence.

Until…

I left my fiancé, Allen Hager, in charge of Tavi when I went out of town on business. While he was at work, Tavi ate a couch. Well, only the back side and one corner.

This prompted another visit to the dog trainer. We began kenneling Tavi when we weren’t home until she was older and more settled.

At seven months, we left a calmer Tavi to roam free in the house while we went to dinner. She ate half a sofa cushion. Thankfully, it belonged to the partially eaten sofa. We flipped the cushion over and no one was the wiser until we had a houseful of post-wedding guests and one of them re-flipped the cushion for a more comfortable seat.

Eventually, Tavi settled down to become a wonderful family pet. We adopted dog Henry to join two cats, Calvin and Emily, completing our animal family.

Our daughters Kellini and McKenna came later. The girls adored the pets and our family was complete.

Doesn't Tavi look regal?

Sadly…

When Tavi was fourteen, she developed kidney failure. My marriage was on the rocks and I confided in Tavi more than anyone else. I wasn’t ready to let her “go,” so Dr. Teter taught me how to give Tavi IV infusions to flush her kidneys and keep her hydrated. Allen and I gave Tavi the infusions three times a week. That, along with a special homemade diet of rice, eggs, and hamburger kept her going an additional five months.

But she was suffering. Finally, I came to realize I was being selfish, only prolonging the inevitable. Tavi relied upon me to give her relief and I’d let her down.

I called Dr. Teter. I told her that it “was time.” Told her that I worried because this was going to be the first family member Kellini (age 10) and McKenna (8) were going to lose.

Dr. Teter offered to come to our home, after hours, at the end of her shift, to put Tavi down.

You can imagine my relief not to have to drive my beloved dog to a clinic, walking her through a lobby full of strangers. I knew I’d be a mess of emotions and no doubt I’d break down into sobs in the treatment room. This offer was heaven-sent.

I prepared the girls and myself for the event. On her last day with us, we snuggled with Tavi non-stop. I swear she knew what was going to happen and she showed her gratitude for my decision by playing more with us that day than she had in the several weeks before. She even raced ahead of Henry to chase a squirrel up a tree, giving us a glimpse of times past when she was a puppy.

Too soon, Dr. Teter arrived at 10pm. She explained the procedure. Slowly. Calmly. She didn’t rush us. After we all had said our good-byes, I sat on the couch, cradling Tavi on my lap.  Dr. Teter kneeled by my side to administer the final injection. It was a sad but peaceful end. A private one shared by our family. It was the environment we’d needed to say farewell to our beloved friend.

I’ll be forever grateful to Dr. Barb Teter for the caring she showed and the dignity she allowed us. When it was over, we wrapped Tavi in a special blanket my mother had croqueted and Dr. Teter took Tavi with her.

Over the years, I’ve wondered how many similar house calls Dr. Teter has made. Obviously, she didn’t have to extend herself to us. Certainly, it would have been more comfortable for her to have euthanized Tavi on the examining table in her office. During office hours.  But she’d come to our home and into our hearts with a special gentleness. She’d made Tavi’s transition a loving and humane lesson for our daughters.

For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

And I would never take an animal anywhere else for treatment. Because no vet’s character could be more persuasive than that of Dr. Barb Teter.  No professional could have shown more dedication.  My family and I could not have been treated any better.

Aristotle also said, “A true friend is one soul in two bodies.” If you’ve ever had a dog, you know the deepest meaning of this quotation.

 

Below is the link for Dr. Barb Teter’s practice at The Pet Clinic.  While Dr. Teter will always be my favorite, all the veterinarians there are exceptional.  They’d have to be.  Because they work alongside Dr. Teter.

http://www.myvetonline.com/thepetclinicpc/general-information.html

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6 Responses to “My Dog, Tavi”

  1. Max Francis says:

    Having enjoyed the privilege of Terry’s friendship for over 20 years, I have come to know all of the characters mentioned in Tavi’s blog. All of the aforementioned characters were blessed with Terry’s “passion for compassion!”

  2. Mayi says:

    I know about a true friend and more… Nano, Gaudy’s dog is 17 years old and is showing his aging symptoms: eyes catarats blinded him, almost no hearing now but his smell is still intact. It will be hard for us and for Gaudy when the time gets close to decide “its time to let him go”…until now, he still has a kind of young attitude but we do need to feed him becuase he doesn’t do it by himself… Thank you for sharing this special life episode. It is great and a bless to find a humanitarian Vet!

  3. Sandi says:

    Oh T., what a beautiful tribute to Tavi and the gifts she brought to your family. I laughed about the sofa (she has many, many kindred spirits who share her taste in soft furniture) and your reference to her being your first non-flushable pet! The pictures are great….especially her soft gentle eyes. Your vet is a true healer….to know just what all of you need and be willing to go the extra mile to give it to you. Tavi will meet you on the Rainbow Bridge….with the rest of the dogs you have loved! Thank you for the tenderness you bring to this day…and the smiles!

  4. Teryl says:

    Thanks, Sandi. I can’t even imagine the scene on your Rainbow Bridge. The number of dogs waiting to greet you–all trying to lick your face at the same time. It boggles the mind!

  5. Teryl says:

    Mayi, you know first hand about losing a special friend–Perla. I’ll always remember how you cradled Perla in the waves at the beach. He only wanted to swim the short distance from you to Jessenia. I know you miss El Chorizo.

  6. Teryl says:

    Max, you are so kind. Were you there when Tony Fenno flipped over the half-eaten sofa cushion? Wish I would have had a camera ready to snap the look on his face. Priceless.

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