The Less Stress Vet
By Kimberly StolzPublished July 1, 2012
When it was time for my beloved cat Isadora to be put to sleep, I was completely distraught. She was sick, old and in pain and I knew I was doing the right thing … but, our relationship was the longest I’d ever had, save the one with my parents.
On the advice of a friend, I contacted a vet that made house calls. No traumatizing car ride, no awkward stuffing of the cat into a carrier, no muted cries from inside that plastic cage.
When the vet arrived, her eyes were so full of kindness and understanding that I knew we had made the right choice. Isadora went gently into that dark night at the gentle hands of Dr. Jennifer Taylor of HouseCalls for Dogs and Cats.
A military child who moved around a lot, Taylor’s family still found space and time for a menagerie of pets – dogs, cats, snakes, hamsters, horses.
“My first pet was a dachshund named M.D. because my dad was in medical school at the time,” she recalled. “He was a cool little guy. There are all these pictures of me as a toddler following M.D. around.” With a doctor father and an animal-loving mother, the two passions collided in the young woman and she grew up wanting to be a vet.
As a horse lover and competitive rider, Taylor visited Columbus often for the Quarter Horse Congress and fell in love with the city. After undergrad at Marshall University, she came to the highly ranked OSU Veterinary School and made her home in the capital city.
“I started the house call practice in 2002 because, while working at other practices, there were constant requests for house calls,” she said. “It’s fun, gratifying, and people appreciate it. It’s useful for people who have pets that are traumatized by traveling, or have elder dogs, or have a number of pets that we can see all at one time.”
Working with animals and their humans for the past two decades, Taylor has seen the bond between them grow even closer.
“Most of my clients see their pets as part of their family,” she explained. “I also think that as people get more isolated from each other, the bond with a living being, who has affection for you and can interact with you, helps people be not so lonely, more active and less stressed.”
Hence, the good doctor’s nickname: the Less Stress Vet.
If there is one piece of advice she could give pet owners, it would be to make sure each of their four-legged friends get a regular physical examination each year.
“It’s very important to focus on having check-ups,” said the vet. “That way, if something is occurring, we can prioritize what we need to do and what we can put off.”
Taylor relishes the days when she can bring a pet back to health.
“We have a client that we’ve had for many years who had a horrible, horrible year; both of his dogs became sick at the same time,” she recalled. “One with Addison’s disease and one with diabetes.” The dog with Addison’s became very sick and was throwing up blood; the owner was ready to euthanize. While she rarely questions an owner’s decision, this time Taylor suggested giving the dog a couple of days and running some tests.
“We were able to figure out the problem and in 48 hours, the dog was back to being herself,” she said proudly. “It was such a joy seeing that dog jumping up and down again … such a joy! When you can fix a pet – one that was so far down everyone thought wasn’t going to make it, and then see how much that means to the family – this is why I do this.”
While Taylor loves her job, loves being around dogs, cats and animal people all day, when it comes time to put a pet to sleep, it is a painful day for all involved. Yet, being present during these moments also offers a glimpse into the sublime and ultimately, restores her faith in humanity.
“It’s difficult,” she admitted. “It is such an intimate moment – people are emotional and open. It gives me insight into human nature and animal nature.”
Taylor recalled having a client – a big, burly Vietnam vet – who had a big, tough dog that eventually came to the end of its life.
“I saw the tough façade of this guy melt away,” she said. “Seeing the emotion, seeing the love, between those two tough guys and this big guy in tears … he was full of love for his pet.”
“These experiences,” she continued, “help me as a human to look for love in people even when you don’t expect it. It reinforces my positive feelings towards humanity, and moves me in both philosophical and spiritual ways.”
For information on Dr. Taylor and her HouseCalls for Dogs and Cats, visit www.lessstressvet.net.