2001 Judge’s Selection

 Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards 2001

Organised by Pfizer Animal Health in association with the Irish Veterinary Journal

Judge’s Selection

Some 335 nominations were received for the Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards 2001. These nominations represented the owners of over 465 dogs, 262 cats, 27 donkeys, 8 guinea pigs, 7 goats, 2 fish, 2 “fancy rats”, 2 budgies, 1 pot bellied pig and various other ponies, horses, ducks and chickens. The results of this year’s award are likely to be announced in early December and details will be posted on this web site. Because of the pure volume of entries received, the following is a short selection of nominations which the judges believe give a flavour for the awards and the very real stories behind them. These are presented in alphabetical order (according to the name of the vet) and in no way relate to the overall results of this year’s awards. The names and personal details of the pet owners who have made the nominations are deliberately not included here. Media who are interested in finding out more about a particular nomination/nominee, or nominations from a specific county, should make contact with Progress Communications (tel 056-71895).

Last updated: 05 November 2001

Index to the nominations quoted in full below:
Cathy Beirne, Co. Clare: “Young happy cat became a skinny, sticky, bedraggled creature with ugly bald shaved patches..”
Tom Brosnan, Co. Kerry: “Chum was our friend and family pet for 13 years….he was in kind and gentle hands and we are consoled by this fact…”
Jim Byrne, Co. Waterford: “Jim spent as much time trying to console me, as if I had lost an only child…”
Tom Conway, Cork: “When I entrust the health of my best friend to Tom Conway, I know she is in a very safe pair of hands…”
Pat Doherty, Cork: “My dog is my life…I know everyday is a bonus and I know the day will come when Pat can not do anything…I will accept it from him if Bunty has to be put down, if he cannot do anything, nobody can…”
Padriag Duggan, Co. Kildare: “This news was devastating, it really had me very upset and I couldn’t come to terms with the idea at all….”
Noel Foley, Co. Meath: Got out of bed to operate on Christmas Eve….
Shane Guerin, Cork: “They have a lovely way with the visually impaired people who receive our dogs, they are always only a phone call away…”
Maurice Harvey, Dublin: “She has no hair on her back and has to wear a jacket in cold weather and sun block in hot weather…”
Finbarr Heslin, Co Kildare: “My husband and I were really distraught but there are no words descriptive enough to explain my gratitude to Finbarr for the reverance and care he had, for both us and Benson at such a stressful, traumatic time…
Ger Kelly, Co Clare: “He will never know what it meant to me to have her for a few more years….”
D&J McGuinness, Co Louth: “In the aftermath of the Foot & Mouth restrictions being lifted in Co Louth…despite a very hectic schedule gave of his time on a voluntary basis…”
Peter McMahon, Dublin: “He came out at midnight, took her to his surgery, sedated her and reassured me that she would be okay, even though she had a broken leg, an eye hanging out and bleeding from her ear and mouth…”
Syd Nagle, Dublin: “When I lost my husband 10 years ago, Lassie became my sole companion in life….”
Hugh O’Callaghan, Co. Limerick: “The full boar pot bellied pig…out he jumped and up and down the surgery, waiting rooms, corridors, it took half an hour and all the staff to catch him…..”
Hugh O’Callaghan, Co. Limerick: “My husband was recuperating after having suffered from a heart attack….a dog set on ours…I was so distraught and worried, not only for Scruffy, but also for my husband…”
John O’Driscoll, Co Cork: “The night before he died, I took him to my bedroom and said Goodbye to my friend, and I am not ashamed to say I lost a few tears along the way…I buried him in the back garden…and put a timber cross over him. It simply reads PALS…”
TJ O’Leary, Co Cork: “Liam is now visiting the patients in our local hospital each week….”
John O’Mahony, Co Cork: “Without him we wouldn’t have our dear cantankerous friend, still alive and filling our days with acts of totally God-like behaviour…”
Denis O’Shea, Dublin: “I know he has healing hands and a great big kind heart when it comes to looking after animals….”
Annette Quegan, Co. Wexford: The story of Lavender and Lace – two fancy rats
Annette Quegan, Co. Wexford: “One Sunday lunchtime, while I was out walking Foley…he just collapsed on the roadside…”
Tom Rennick, Co. Galway: “Darkie had always been with her, side by side with her buggy, then on the bike and more recently her scooter…”
Tom Rennick, Co. Galway: “He put them in a saucepan of warm water to keep them warm, as the mother cat was still unconscious…”
Tom Rennick, Co. Galway: “Rusty guards the bottom of my bed, licking my toes, sits on my lap, lays at my feet, follows me wherever I go…at 76, he is the perfect soul mate…”
Susan Roulston, Co. Donegal: “An unsympathetic owner had drowned each puppy as it was born until the bitch was so traumatised it was unable to have the last puppy….”
Tanis Turley, Dublin: “Phoebe was a very difficult dog, at times a very frightened and scared dog…She would give James Herriot a run for his money, there’s no doubt…”
Tanis Turley, Dublin: “Even when we knew the odds were against her, still Tanis was willing to try to save her…”
Pete Wedderburn, Co. Wicklow: “Tried every possible treatment to give “Wings” a chance….”

COUNTY: Co Clare
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Erica Borge & Associates, Main Street, Tulla,
WHY NOMINATED: Benjy, a jet black cat was at eight months old in perfect, glossy health. He stopped trapping himself up trees, figured out how to whup the local terrieres and made wary friends with a horse. With partner in crime, sister Bob, also jet black, he was carving out a three-field kingdom in the wilds around the house. The first cloud on Beny’s horizon was worms spotted around his posterior. He was dewormed. But then he got an occasional cough. I thought it was a hairball or a passing cold. But the cough got worse and after he began refusing food, he was rushed to an emergency vet. It wasn’t clear what he had, his lungs and heart were fine, but he got an antibiotics shot. He started to eat again and seemed well. Then after another day or so, he refused food once more and seemed much worse, suddenly thin and weak and now clearly unwell. I took him to my old vet. A practice of 3 great women on Main Street, Tulla, Co. Clare, who combine farm animal work with a small animal clinic. Again, it wasn’t clear what was wrong, but we decided Benjy should stay in overnight. That turned into a lot longer. First he was treated with the strongest antibiotic injections, which seemed to control his coughing, but he still wouldn’t eat. Benjy was becoming emaciated. He had to be put on a drip. This is a difficult procedure with a cat, it is difficult to find a vein, painful and uncomfortable for the cat. More days passed and Benjy was now a real wreck, he was enduring painful injections and a painful drip and he still wouldn’t touch any of the food put in front of him. The shining young happy cat was now a skinny, sticky, bedraggled creature with ugly bald shaved patches around his neck and legs where he was getting the drips. He head was bunged up with his mystery infection and he wheezed pitifully. If he didn’t eat very soon, he was going to die. Benjy clearly had no physical resources of his own left to fight whatever was in his body, possibly a variety of flu. He had two things going for him – his personality and Cathy Beirne. Both were unusual. Before a painful injection, Benjy did the opposite of what most cats do, which is to fight the vet away. Instead, he would become more affectionate. He would muzzle up in big weak bounds against her hands, or try to push his face towards her neck. He would accept painful injections without a fight and afterwards, would want to cuddle Cathy again. It was strange, and moving, to see. At the risk of anthropomorphism, it looked to Cathy and to me, like he was thinking maybe if I am really nice, nothing bad will happen to me. To do the drips in the evening, Cathy would ask her boyfriend, who doesn’t normally like cats but decided this one was special, to help. Benjy wouldn’t accept the drip without a struggle. But he didn’t become, like most cats, understandably afraid of or aggressive towards the person who caused him the pain. Instead he would try to leap into Cathy’s arms and wind his head around her neck. Cathy was unusual in her determination to save this cat’s life. She began to spend much of her free time with him. Eventually she was at her wits end, trying to figure out what was wrong and above all trying to get him to eat. She tried everything, including consulting other vets. She lives above the vet clinic and Benjy began to spend the night upstairs, in the bedroom with Cathy and her big boxer dog, who weak Benjy, who only ever run from or swiped dogs before, also tried to make friends with. Other sick animals before Benjy have also got the bedroom treatment. Cathy reckons that if an animal feels secure and happy and loved, it has a better chance of getting better. She felt sorry for him. She didn’t want him to be lonely. Still Benjy got weaker, and more affectionate the weaker he got. But after almost a week, it looked like he would die. Cathy tried one last thing. She injected him with valium, which can have the odd side effect of stimulating the appetite. Seconds after the injection, Benjy gobbled a glass of milk. The next day and another injection later, he ate real food. He was allowed home for the weekend and seemed fine for day, but weakened again and went back to Cathy again. She nursed him back again. He was going to live. But now there was another problem. I was leaving the country for six months or longer. Cats don’t like being moved and I wanted to rent my home to someone who would take care of Benjy and Bob, especially as Benjy’s health would still need watching. I couldn’t find renters who were also real animal lovers. So I had to look for a good new home for Benjy and Bob. I asked Cathy if I could put up a notice in the vets, or if she knew anyone. Hardly missing a beat, Cathy said she would take him herself if no place else could be found. I was astonished, happy and grateful. Benjy and Bob are now living with Cathy. She is a vet who goes further than the extra inch. More like miles. She is a strong, kind person who steers the tricky line between professionalism and compassion with admirable skill and tact. I can’t thank her enough for really caring about my cat as well as for him. She now only saved his life, she had him come share hers ! NOTE Nomination was received by e mail from Thailand.

COUNTY: Co Kerry
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Ark Veterinary Clinic, New Road, Killarney,
WHY NOMINATED: NB Editorial Note: This lady nominated Tom last year for his care of Chum and it is worth reading last year’s nomination to understand the importance of Chum to this family
I wrote to you last year about our dog Chum and the wonderful vet Tom Brosnan who cared for him. Sadly, however, just one month later in October, Chum was knocked down on the road outside our home one night and suffered serious injuries as a result. I phoned Tom on his mobile and he saw to Chum immediately. But despite his best efforts, Chum died in Tom’s surgery late that night. As all pet lovers will understand, we were distressed and saddened with Chum’s passing. However we found great consolation in knowing that someone else cared. And we knew Tom cared, now only for Chum but for us as well. He cared enough, not to tell my two boys and I when we brought him to the surgery that night, that there was nothing he could do for Chum. Instead he explained to us in detail the extent of his injuries and that we should take his age into account. He assured us he would do “everything in his power” to save Chum and we knew he would if it was possible. Tom knew there was no hope for Chum, but being the kind, considerate person he is, he wanted to spare us any further distress so late in the evening. He didn’t give us any false hope, but gave us time to reflect and consider the fact that Chum might not survive. When I phoned Tom the next morning to enquire about Chum, Tom asked if we could come to the surgery to talk with him. I knew then that Chum had died, but Tom wanted to tell us in person and not over the phone. I can still recall the genuine compassion and sadness in his voice when he assured us that Chum did not die alone. Tom had been called to the surgery during the night to turn off the alarm that had been triggered by the storm and while he was there, Chum died. Chum was our friend and family pet for 13 years. We could not have wished more for him in those final moments than to be with Tom. He was in kind and gentle hands and we are consoled by this fact. Our family nominate Tom for this award because of his unique qualities not just in his profession but also as a person. His understanding, kindness, compassion, care, attention and gentleness to both animals and people is truly deserving of recognition.

COUNTY: Waterford
VET NOMINATED: Deise Veterinary Group, Killosery, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford
WHY NOMINATED: On 1st January 1998 my beloved and loveable dog was severely injured in a road accident. I had flu’ at the time, and needless to say was broken hearted, to receive this terrible news. As I used to take my four dogs for a 5 mile walk every morning, breed and trained them myself, which demands a lot of love and patience. Claire brought Bruno to the vet, accompanied by me. Jim Byrne came on duty when he was supposed to be with his family. He treated Bruno, better than most doctors would; a small baby. He said he was bleeding inwardly, and had many injuries. He would have to keep him under observation until next day. As I could not bear to think of him suffering all night, I asked Jim to put him to sleep, at which point I was in floods of tears. Jim, at 8.00pm, spent as much time trying to console me, as if I had lost an only child – to me it felt that bad. He and Claire (my youngest daughter) lifted Bruno so tenderly into the car. I still miss him, even more now, that I am physically handicapped, as he was trained to bring my shoes. Sally and Judy had to go to new homes, as I was a very long time in hospital and had mutiple operations. I couldn’t expect my family, all of whom are away from home, to look after four dogs. I now have only Leo, who guards me night and day, and understands every command. When I returned on the Irish Wheelchair Bus two months ago, Leo was very sick. I rang Charles (as it was his evening on duty). He arrived in a few minutes and gave him injections. What a pleasant surprise to see him arriving very early next morning, un-requested. He said Leo required a major operation, which took approximately 2 hours. Before starting, he said he could not guarantee it would save him. When we returned all was successfully over. He informed me all Leo’s intestines were stuck together. In a few days, thank God, he was once again a healthy dog. He is un-replaceable. We love each other.

VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Gilabbey Veterinary Clinic, Gilabbey Street, Cork,
WHY NOMINATED: In January 1999, my beloved dog Bella was diagnosed as having diabetes mellitus and so started a beautiful relationship between Bella and her vet, Tom Conway. With infinite patience and encouragement Tom explained to me (a typical neurotic owner) the commitment required to maintain a stable diabetic dog. He offered every assistance and before long that offer was sorely tested. For the first few weeks, Tom injected Bella every day, 7 days a week and gave me his mobile telephone number to ring anytime day or night that I was worried. On the few occasions I rang, he allied my fears, sorted the problem and never gave the impression I was a nuisance. I should mention Tom explained in great detail, in language I understood, all about diabetes and its treatment. He gave me literature to read and a video on the disease. In April 1999 Bella contracted very severe cystitis. This necessitated her being admitted to Gilabeey Hospital. She was very ill, loosing a lot of blood and her glucose levels were haywire. During this time, Tom rang me twice a day to report on Bella’s progress. When she recovered from the cystitis, there was great difficulty in stabilising the diabetes. Tom was in contact with the vet college in Dublin and always explained to me the outcome of his discussions with Dublin. To cut a long saga short, Bella was admitted to the vet teaching hospital in Dublin and after a two day stay came home a contented stable happy little dog. I have been taking dogs to vets for 30 years and never had a complaint about any vet that treated my pets, but what makes Tom Conway special is that he goes the extra mile for his patients, which is very reassuring for their owners. When I entrust the health of my best friend to Tom Conway, I know she is in a very safe pair of hands.

VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Gilabbey Veterinary Clinic, Gilabbey Street, Cork,
WHY NOMINATED: My vet is myself and Bunty’s best friend. She is my best friend. My vet is Pat Dorothy who I can only describe as a Saint and who has kept me going emotionally and professionally in the last few years of Bunty’s life and she has had a lot of problems since she was 16 years old. I first met Pat when Bunty got very sick in Cork 4 years ago. I knew vets and after ringing several vets, Pat was the one who met me at 10pm that night. The verdict was bad, Bunty was very sick, had cancer and had to have a hysterectomy. Pat told me because of her staggering age her chances were 10%. He showed me where Bunty would be operated and went through everything in “layman’s” terms so I could understand. The surgery was going to cost a lot of money which I did not have at that moment, but his concern was not money but to get Bunty through surgery and yes he did. Bunty since has only sight in one eye and has lost her hearing. Last year she got food poisoning and yet again the Gilabbey team pulled her through. Last Christmas she developed tumours and I had to rush her to a practise nearby. She was very sick on day four, they told me she would have to be put down. Pat was on holidays at the time. I rang Gilabbey and they put me through to one of Pat’s colleagues, he told me to take the dog home, assess her for 24 hours, if there was no improvement get her to Cork. She got better. The reason why she did not respond to treatment was she was upset at being in the hospital and she did not know anybody. This year, Bunty’s eye started acting up and she went to a vet in Dublin for treatment who advised the eye be removed. I brought her home and noticed she had become very weak. I rang Pat in Cork, he told me to bring her down immediately. Pat was off and came in especially to see us. She had a murmer in her heart. Pat treated her twice a day but did not take her into hospital as he said she would make it if I was nursing her. Day One, Pat did not give much hope. Day Two Pat consulted with his colleagues and they felt now it was better to put her down. Day Three, she was back on her feet. Pat agrees that Bunty is an exceptional dog and has beaten all odds and Bunty will only die when she wants to. Pat believes in Bunty and knows she’s a friend. He explains things so simply, money is never an issue. He is constantly doing courses, keeping up to date with technology. I believe he is the vet for Foto WildLife Park as I see pictures of him in the surgery of operations on wild animals. He has met me with Bunty on days off because I travel from Meath to him. He sends me Bunty’s medication in the post and she goes for a monthly check-up. Bunty would be dead today if Pat was not around. The team at Gilabbey is brilliant. One may feel stupid at times and people find it difficult to understand how one gets so attached to animals. One can ring day or night to Gilabbey and one is never made feel a burden. In 20 years I have dealt with a lot of vets and some have no manner dealing with your feelings and how upsetting it is when you feel so helpless and your life is depending on them knowing the anwer to your pet’s complaint. I have told people all over whose pets have been given no chance, go to Gilabbey Street, Cork. They are professional, clean and they care. My dog is my life, I owe the last four year’s of Bunty’s life and my pleasure to Pat. I know everyday is a bonus and I know the day will come when Pat can not do anything. But I know I want Pat there and I will accept it from him if Bunty has to be put down, as if he cannot do anything, nobody can. I hope you will consider Pat, I would give my right hand for him and so would a lot of other people. Sometimes, kindness and compassion and treating your pets like your children can mean everything. Please consider Pat, he is one in a million and you do not get many professionals as good as that. We are very lucky to have him. Enclosed: Press cutting from the Evening Echo, when Bunty was lost last July 19 years of age, Gilabbey then opened at 10pm and were waiting to take her in and examine her to check she was ok after she was found.

COUNTY: Co Kildare
VET NOMINATED: Padraig Duggan
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Veterinary Clinic, Meeting Lane, Athy,
WHY NOMINATED: I am writing this extra note to you about a vet called Padraig Dugan. Padraig worked in a veterinary practise called Lismard Vet Clinic, Portlaoise, however Padraig left the practise a few years ago and the practise has since closed. I do not know exactly where Padraig went to, but I believe he moved to a practise in Tipperary somewhere. So just in case Padraig gets other nominations for the Veterinary Pet Care Award, I would like you to also consider what I have to say about him. I ran a small rescue centre which was in Portlaoise for 10 years. I had to give up the rescue centre due to health and financial reasons, but I still have quite a few animals left and as my husband and all my friends know, I still will do what I can for unwanted or injured creatures and I don’t think that will ever change. Anyway it was during those ten years that I met Padraig. My first introduction was when Lismard Clinic first opened, I was their very first client (which led to being a very regular client). I remember being so delighted that a new clinic was opening in Portlaoise as I used to travel long distances before for veterinary treatment and I was hoping with all my heart that this clinic would have at least one caring vet that liked small animals and believed that they were just as important as the local farmer’s heard of cows. Not saying that I have anything against cows, but I do hate when a vet makes you feel you have wasted his time by asking him to look at half a dozen flu ridden kittens, as since they don’t make you money they seem to hold very little respect for them in monetary measure, which as we all know makes the world go round. Anyway to cut a long story short not only did Lismard have one caring vet but three, however at very close inspection the one who stood out was Padraig. I cannot begin to explain all the wonderful work Padraig did for small animals in the Portlaoise area, especially mine. As you can imagine I had lots of different cases of cruelty and neglect, some that even I thought could not be saved but Padraig always did his best and gave each case a fighting chance. However, he would not let anything suffer if he felt that there was no treatment for the animal, and would explain exactly what was wrong and what the outcome would be. When the animal had to be put to sleep, Padraig did this with such care and compassion and sometimes I think it effected him as much as it did me. I also saw how Padraig treated other people’s animals, his gentleness always struck me as something you would not expect from someone of his stature, but Padraig always was very kind and sometimes let himself get too fond of his regular patients, which at times was hard for him if any of them has to be put to sleep. One particular day, one of the many cats I had at the time, and that was pregnant, seemed to be bleeding and unable to have her kittens. It was a Sunday and as I lifted the phone to contact a vet I hoped that Padraig was on duty that day and thank God he was. I rushed the cat to the surgery and Padraig did a section on her immediately. As he removed the kittens from the sack I could see one was not breathing. Padraig put each kitten (in all three) onto a clean sheet and turned to the one which didn’t seem to be breathing and gently rubbed its chest with one finger. Now Padraig was a very big tall man and to watch him gently rub this tiny mouse-like kitten was amazing and when the kitten started to move that was even more amazing, I just couldn’t believe my eyes. He could have just let it die, as I wouldn’t have known any better, I already had lots of cats, one less kitten wouldn’t have really mattered would it ? (As one vet said to me one time, “you have enough cats anyway”, as he attempted to put down a cat I had just rescued, needless to say I didn’t let him). But apart from Padraig thinking about how I felt, he wanted this kitten to live also. Other than rescued animals I did of course have some that I counted as my own, that I would never rehome. My two favourite dogs (if it is really possible for me to have favourites) were Buckley, my Irish wolfhound; and Jessie, a lovable black and white sheepdog. Buckley had always been a very poorly dog, with lots of complaints and spent a lot of his time in the Veterinary College, Jessie however had been rescued when she was about 5 years old and had been in fine health up to the last year of her life. Jessie started to bleed from her mouth one day and I took her to Padraig who after a few days of treatment referred me on to a veterinary hospital for special blood tests. (The one remarkable thing that struck me most about Padraig was that if he didn’t feel he knew what exactly was wrong with your pet, he had no problem in sending you on for a second opinion, which made me feel that he had the animals’ welfare at heart and that he wasn’t just after your money, as I had found to be the case in the past). Anyway, she was diagnosed as having some immune deficiency and was put on steroids, however Jessie sometimes got very ill and needed to be put on a drip. Padraig was always there when I called him and would call to the house at any hour, put Jessie on a drip and give her the medication she needed to help her recover. Buckley then got cancer and this news was devestating, it really had me very upset and I couldn’t come to terms with the idea at all. I decided to nurse him until I knew it was time to let him go and I knew that if I hadn’t the courage to make that decision, Padraig would help me and he wouldn’t let Buckley suffer. Padraig had been there through all Buckley’s illnesses and really cared for him. Within three months it was time to let him go. I called into the surgery that morning and told Padraig that I felt it was time and he agreed, he called out to my house and put Buckley to sleep. I was so glad it was Padraig and that Buckley was allowed to die in his own house surrounded by those who loved him. I cannot express my gratitude to Padraig for all his help to the animals I rescued and loved, but my respect for his ability to treat and care for them as much as I did is too great to even imagine. He was a very good vet, and all I can say is that I hope wherever he is, that people appreciate his work as much as I did. As I said before, I do not know where Padraig went to, but if you do get any nominations for him, please add this one too.

COUNTY: Co Meath
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Smith & Foley Veterinary, Canon Row, Navan
WHY NOMINATED: Noel Foley is the most caring and conscientious vet that I have known in the many years I have kept a pet. He takes a really personal interest in the well being and health of his four legged patients as well as bringing comfort and re-assurance to their owners. If ever a person choose the right career, he did. During the 8 years he has treated our border collie, Gyp, two instances of his outstanding care stand out. The first was Christmas Eve two years ago, when we were about to leave to spend Christmas in the Uk with our daughter. At 7.30am we had let Gyp out for his morning constitutional when he returned covered in blood with a large gash in his side. I immediately telephoned Noel who without the slightest hesitation got out of his bed and met me and my husband in his surgery. He stitched the wound, gave Gyp medication and impressed on us that our neighbour, who was minding Gyp in our absence, was to contact him at any time during the holiday period if the need arose. Very reassured, we were able to get on our way and enjoy Christmas, knowing that Noel would respond if needed. The second instance of wonderful help from Noel involved longer and more painstaking care. Gyp, now 13, began to suffer badly with arthritis and could no longer go for his walks or play in the garden much as he strived to. But with Noel’s loving care and attention he has a new lease of life and can go for his walks, which he loves. He is as fit and active as he was years ago and is so happy and contented once again. His welfare has brought great happiness to us and we are deeply indebted to Noel. I’m sure he would be embarrassed if he knew I was writing this about him, but I honestly cannot think of anyone more deserving in recognition.

VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Gilabbey Veterinary Surgery, 38 Gilabbey Street , Cork
WHY NOMINATED: I am a kennel supervisor for Irish Guide Dogs, for the Blind, and I have recently taken my cat to Gilabbey due to a urinary tract problem, they are not only extremely helpful but do explain procedures thoroughly and exlain what the medication will do etc. The Gilabbey Vet. Hospital are also vets to the Irish Guide Dogs, we as a charity find them extremely efficient with staff and dogs in training, but they have a lovely way with the visually impaired people who receive our dogs, they are always only a phone call away whether it be 6am or after midnight (which we have found out onnumnerous occassions). The practice consists of four partners and every one will offer the same brilliant service, you can appreciate that with 40 dogs in our kennels we do rely on vets being reliable, and understanding and I really can’t praise this practice enough, I not only speak for myself on this matter but the other 30 staff that work within Irish Guide Dogs. This is a great opportunity for me to nominate what I believe is a great Veterinary Practice. I will also say that there waiting room is full up with THANK YOU cards from very happy satisfied people.

COUNTY: Co Dublin
VET NOMINATED: Maurice Harvey
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Lissenhall Veterinary Clinic, Lissenhall Swords
WHY NOMINATED: Maurice saved my very injured dog last November. Please take time to read our story. I have tried to make it as short as possible. On Friday 18th November 2000 my 10-year-old dog, Holly was involved in a traffic accident. The tragic thing about this accident was that it happened in her back yard. A hi-ace van reversed and carried Holly with it. 80% of her skin was ripped off, I was on my way home from work when the accident happened, so my father in law took Holly to Lissenhall Veterinary Hospital. There she was looked after by Maurice Garvey. He said he had seen many dogs following road accidents but never one as bad as Holly. Maurice was very professional and sympathetic in the manner he put it to Kevin (my Father-in-law) that it would be best to put Holly to sleep. Kevin replied that this dog comes before husband or children. This is almost true I did have Holly before I had either husband or children. She was my best friend for a very long time. Maurice operated on Holly for three hours. I went to see her on the next day, Saturday. She was obviously very drowsy but she perked up when she saw me and licked some water from my fingers. Her whole tummy area was wrapped up in bandages. She was lying down all the time so I did not see her injured leg and dislocated hip. I did not see this until Sunday when she was walking about. I was absolutely horrified, her rear leg was literally hanging off, it was being held in place by what I can only describe as long loose stitches. All the muscles and bone was exposed. I felt that had I seen her on the night the accident happened, I would have put her to sleep. It would have upset me terribly, but my feeling was that this dog had given me so much, I could not expect her to go throguh such suffering. Maurice assured me that she was not in any pain and that seeing that she had survived the operation and was still with us 48 hours later, there was a good chance of her pulling through. Holly made steady progress over the next week, so well in fact that on Friday I was told I could take her home on Saturday. We were overjoyed. We got her a new basket and cushions. By this stage she had no bandages. The skin and hair on her back was held in place by about 50 stitches. I later learned this was to allow the skin underneath to heal. Sadly by the folowing Tuesday Holly did not seem to be doing very well at home. She made no attempt to get out of her basket when I came home from work. I decided to take her back to Lissenhall. Again I was feeling very guilty and when I took her back I told Maurice that I considered her to have a relapse and that if this happened again I would have to ask him to put her asleep. I agreed to let her stay in the clinic until as long as it took, for her to be fairly well and mobile. Holly stayed at the clinic for a further 10 or 11 days. I went to visit her a few times during that period. The stitches/hair had been removed and now she as bald with a big scar down the whole of her left side. She became Queen of the Castle during her stay. In no time she got to know her way to and from her cage and made it clear to all the newcomers who was the boss. Hillary, one of the nurses became very attached to Holly and Holly to her. Once when I visited and took Holly for a walk around the grounds, Hillary was preparing the animals breakfast Holly had no time for me, which probably was a good thing as I was able to slip away without her noticing. It took Holly at least three months to get back to a reasonably normal way of life. She regained the weight she had lost. She has no hair on her back and has to wear a jacket in cold weather, and sun block in hot weather. When she wants to run she raises the leg that was injured but when she wants to walk she can put it down without any difficulty or pain. Holly always loved to swim. She is now able to swim again, I thought that she would never be able to do that again. It is when I see her swimming and chasing the birds on the beach that I think of Maurice and his team and thank them for saving my dog and giving her a good quality of life again.

COUNTY: Co Kildare
VET NOMINATED: Finbarr Heslin
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Beaufield Veterinary Clinic, Lucan Road, Celbridge
WHY NOMINATED: I have been attending Finbarr’s clinic with my dogs for the last number of years, possibly since he opened. He was recommended to me by word of mouth and as my “boys” (dogs) are so important to me, I checked him out. From the very first time I met him, I found him very impressive, and he didn’t treat me with the usual arrogance of some older vets (of which I could write a book on !!). He was ready to explain procedures he had to carry out, which helped me feel part of my boys treatment and recovery. Initially I had three dogs, Benson a rough collie, Buttons a shetland sheep dog and Foxie, another shetland. Benson was an older dog and prior to his death he had been sick for many, many months and I got outstanding back up and care from Finbarr. Even to the point of him just dropping in to check on Benny if he was passing the house. He always has a word of support and assurance. This is very important to me, as I love my “boys” very much, they are like little members of my family, and I want everyone to treat them as such. Finbarr did make Benny’s last couple of months as comfortable as possible, though in the end I had to make such a hard decision. But again he talked me through the illness explaining everything to me so I could make an informed decision, which I did and that was to put Benson to sleep. Let me tell you it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Finbarr came to my home the morning of 9th September 2000 to give him the injection. My husband and myself were really distraught but there are no words descriptive enough to explain my gratitude to Finbarr for the reverance and care he had for both us and Benson at such a stressful, traumatic time. He laid my dog on the kitchen couch (his bed during his lifetime) and allowed me sit with him holding him in my arms. It all happened so quickly after that, which I found rather shocking. I also know that this is the part of Finbarr’s job that he hates and I was witness to it that morning. I know he doesn’t approach his veterinary work as a job, he is a dedicated and caring vet. It’s so obvious that he cares and not only for the animals in his care, but for their owners as well. That morning I asked him (I was very emotional) if I could have the other two “boys” present (Buttons and Foxie) and he advised totally against it, as they would possibly find it very upsetting as he had had previous experience of a similar situation. Afterwards that did make sense to me. Then after giving me words of comfort, he went out to my husband who was digging the grave and he took over and dug out Benny’s grave himself, also administering his own brand of comfort to Pat, my husband. He came back to the kitchen, and wrapped my beautiful dog in a rug, brought him outside and placed him in the grave. We exchanged little stories about his life, and Finbarr had some of his own, he too was upset, and YES it was obvious he was finding this also difficult. He proceeded to take the shovel from my husband and covered in the grave. Afterwards we shared a cup of tea and when he felt we were coping a little better, he made his excuses and left. He rang us later in the day to check on us. The following day I received a beautiful e mail from Beaufield Veterinary Clinic with a heart-warming poem about Doggie Heaven. I was just over-whelmed that he had taken the trouble to do such a nice thing for me. I have had occasion since then to send this very poem on to friends that have lost their old pals, and the comfort they too receive is beyond measure. My husband is a very busy business man, dealing with many stressful situations daily, and basically a very practical man. But he, like me, loves our boys, they mean so much to us and we could never thank Finbarr enough for his sincere and humble care of us and Benson that awful morning. This has to be the most stressful part of a vet’s life, dealing with the owners of sick, dying animals. Sure they can ignore it or treat the owner’s like silly individuals and just get on with it. But it takes a special, kind people to make an exceptional vet. There are many other situations I could write about, each equally worth of mention, but I will just say that Buttons and Foxie don’t really like their visits to the vets, but then, what dog does ? But I have noticed that like a horse, when a dog is ill, they do know when they are being helped and do appreciate it. There is one little story I will share, when I got Foxie first, he is now 4 years old. He was an extremely bad traveller, look at a car and he was sick, and seemingly his mother was the same and she never improved. Finbarr told me one day that I should bring him for drives, other than just drives to the vet. I thought “yea sure” but I tried it and yes eventually it did work, I just brought him for spins down the farm, or to the shops and you know what, he loves it ! Now he can’t get enough of the car, jeep or coach…he will get into anything that moves !!! Buttons is now my old dog, 12 years old, and Finbarr makes sure I always have a supply of his daily medication, and again should he be passing he will call in and just check that all is well with him. This is dedication and care. He has built up a relationship with my boys, knows their good and bad points. Knows that I love them dearly and yes they are pampered, but that’s what it’s all about. I know that should I have a serious problem day or night, I will have the ultimate back up from Beaufield Veterinary Clinic should I require it. He is a very dedicated and compassionate vet, with great expertise, a real animal lovers vet and I am really glad that I can say “thank you Finbarr” in this hugely public manner. And should there be an award for veterinary nurses, I would nominate all of his staff, they too are wonderful, certainly time and effort was applied when he choose his team. Thank you Finbarr and than you from Buttons, Foxie, and the 2 Barn Cats, Gizmo and Fur Ball.

COUNTY: Co Clare
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Kilkee Veterinary Clinic, Circular Road, Kilkee,
WHY NOMINATED: I would like to nominate Mr Ger Kelly for the Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Award, for his care, consideration and kindness to my animals and myself over the past number of years has been far beyond the call of duty and also his diagnosis is always accurate on first assessment. I found Lassie, abandoned, skin and bone, terrified and 2 weeks pregnant on a freezing November day. As my mother and my dog had died 3 weeks previously, she meant the world to me as I live alone. I brought her to Ger and his partner Mr Paddy Nolan who said she was the worst case of neglect they had ever seen. She was terrified of men, but Ger set her at ease by rubbing her ears, which she loved. Through his dedication and skill, she made a full recovery. Ger’s caring and gentle approach helped us both through very difficult times. Six years later, she started slowing down and coughing when on walks and stopping as if in pain. I brought her to Ger who immediately diagnosed a heart condition. He put her on medication and referred her to Mr Aidan Miller of Galway, to assess the damage to her heart and lungs. She had to be monitored on a weekly basis for some time and occassionally thereafter. As I worked, I could not attend during surgery hours, but Ger always saw us at great inconvenience to himself. He was always cheerful and never in a hurry despite his busy schedule and took time to explain her condition, treatment, care and answer questions. I must add that he was running a large animal practice singled handed after his partner retired and as it was calving time, he worked night and day but never failed to see Lassie at short notice or to discuss her condition over the phone at any time. He rarely charged me for consultations, only for her medication. He also performed two successful operations on her glands and allowed me to stay with her until she had got the anaesthetic in order to reduce stress. Some years later she got ill again, passing black motions and in a lot of pain. I thought it was cancer and was devestated at the thought of loosing her. I brought her to Ger who consoled me saying he doubted if it was cancer, but made an appointment with Aidan Miller to have her scanned and X-rayed. As he was leaving for Dublin that evening to do exams the following morning, he gave me his mobile number to ring him at any time if I was worried. The following morning, the day of the appointment with Aidan Miller, I rang him at 6.00 am to ask him to cancel the appointment, as I felt she was too sick, that it would be waste of money and had decided to put her down. He encouraged me to bring her and said he did not think it was serious and even if the news was bad, I would feel better for having done everything for her. He never let me give up hope. He was right as usual ! The scan showed it was an ulcer and with Ger’s dedicated care, she made a full recovery. He will never know what it meant to me to have her for a few more years. Unfortunately she was ill with her kidneys over a year ago and despite Ger’s best efforts, she deteriorated. Ger knew how upset I would be if she had to be put to sleep suddenly and discussed in a most sensitive way the procedure, and suggested if she had to be put to sleep, he would come to the house. As he knew I wanted to bury her in the garden, he offered to dig the grave if no one was available on the day. This shows not only his professional side, but also his very caring human attitude towards the owners as well as the animals, when it is most needed, in times of stress. She had to be put to sleep in May 2000, the only week-end Ger had taken off since Christmas. She was aged approximately 15 years. I arranged a home visit with his assistant. Four weeks ago, my cats got poisoned by knocking some insecticide in their shed. Even though Ger saw them immediately, they had to be put to sleep as they were gone too far. When catching them, their temperament seemed to have changed, and they shredded my hands. As I was extremely upset and in a hurry to get them to the surgery, I did not look after myself. This time, Ger probably saved me from serious illness. He gave me disinfectant to wash my wounds at the surgery and insisted that I make an appointment with a Doctor as a chemical was on the cat paws when they clawed me. Words can never express my gratitude to Ger for his care and attention to all my animals. They are always treated with dignity and gentleness and I wish to nominate him for this award.

COUNTY: Co Louth
VET NOMINATED: David & John McGuinness
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Avenue Road Vet Hospital, Avenue Road, Dundalk
WHY NOMINATED: I feel its been a sad and tough year (certainly the Spring part of it anyhow) for the people of Ireland and more especially for the people of North Co Louth, where the only (thank God) case of Food & Mouth disease was confirmed. I live on a farm which was situated within the 10k extended exclusion zone of the time. My nomination for the Veterinary Pet Care Award is certainly a memory of the earlier part of this year, but thankfully a year with a good ending for the people of Co. Louth – now that the country has been declared FREE of Food and Mouth (T.G.). I would like to nominate David and John McGuinness and their practise, The Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital, Avenue Road, Dunalk, Co. Louth, for the 2001 Veterinary Pet Care Award because…. Right throughout the year both David and John have provided their undivided extremely professional treatments and attention to my family’s pets. Our pets are Beanie and Barnie who are two toirtoise shell cats, Lord Henry (another cat), and Suzi our much loved dog, (plus other cats, Boots who is 20 people years of age and Jamie). I could single out one particular event in the care of our pets with our vets, but I think this might be unfair because our pets get such attention on any visit to the vet that I could not equate it to only ONE event. Therefore I will give a few brief examples of the tender loving care and treatment provided by David and John (and indeed the staff of the Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital) to our pets over this year. Beanie who is one of our two tortoise shell cats (Beanie and her sister Barnie never leave each other’s side), Beanie was very, very ill with a swollen paw and had to spend four days in hospital recently to have an operation and come through her recovery process. We (my family) refused to leave Beanie alone and this was made so much easier for us when we saw the lovely peaceful place she was going to stay, the TLC she received from David. He brought her the food she liked, showed concern that she would not eat it and allowed us visit her in hospital whenever we wished. He phoned us to let us know how she was getting on. On one visit we found him in with her, simply chatting to her. Just a lovely gentle approach…to a poor little kitten. Who wouldn’t want to leave her with him ? Suzi our dog is a very BIG dog, she hates to leave our side (ever) and is never left on her own. No matter where any member of the family goes, she either accompanies them or somebody stays to take care of Suzi. Well during this Summer, Suzi really needed a grooming very badly. The obvious thing of course was to leave her in and have her groomed at The Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital, BUT ! This was against “family policy”, Suzi just could not go away on her own for the afternoon. Guess what ? Major discussion with David and John McGuinness who bent over backwards to facilitate the idea of Suzi needing a grooming, left a number of staff giving up their lunch break to take care of Suzi and allowed us “her humans” stay with her. Suzi came out from the clinic a much lighter, brighter, cooler babe! (and had a cool classy Summer thanks to her grooming). Another example might be that in the aftermath of the foot and mouth restrictions being lifted in County Louth, David McGuinness despite a very hectic clinic schedule gave of his time on a voluntary basis to assist a local community project (of which I am a director), Stephenstown Pond Nature Park (National Wildlife Award Winning Project 1998) to give a public talk to the local community on the need for care and attention to be given by everybody to pets and their entry to such places as this nature park in the aftermath of the much dreaded food and mouth disease. Many people were so relieved to hear the expert explain what exactly one should do to assist with the preventative measures still needing to be in place with regard to the disease and care of pets, animals and the environment. Final example, while one might say is not related to pets specifically, I would question and disagree. You may have gathered that my family and myself are very much animal lovers and come from a dairy farming background, therefore we would claim that the cows etc. are also pets. So, with that in mind I finish with something that happened just one week ago. John McGuinness spent from 2am to 4am at this household calving a poor little heifer that he had grate difficulty with, and in the end performing nothing short of a miracle, again with such TLC. Both David and John deserve not only this wonderful pet care award in the opinion of my entire family, but also some sort of recognition for their sheer commitment, dedication and pure love of all pets and animals alike. Their professionalism and love filled approach to their job (at all hours of the day and night) is nothing short of a miracle and one to be treasured. Dundalk and surrounding areas are very privileged to have both brothers, David and John, and their Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital, their staff and practise expertise. Very high on that list also is the surgery hygiene and safety factor. Whether one owns a sick but beautiful pet, horse or other animal – David and John MacGuinness have the expertise and professionalism to give that animal both the treatment and desire to make a full recovery thus providing their owner/s with a pet for life!

COUNTY: Dublin 24
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Priory Vet Surgery, 513 Main Street, Tallaght,
WHY NOMINATED: Because of his total dedication beyond the call of duty. He works 6 full days per week and up at 9.00pm most nights and sometimes opens on Sunday mornings for emergencies. He is widely known for his leniency with fees to old people and younger people (of which there would be a lot in Tallaght). He is one of only 2 vets serving the Tallaght area. He takes in all kinds of animals, snakes, iguanas, ferrits, apart from the usual ie. cats, dogs, birds and works on his own. He always has time to listen and talk to his clients, no matter how busy. My dog Lizzie (a scottie) is 19.5 years old and Peter has cared for her down through the years. Among the unusual things he has done was when she was knocked down late one night , he came out at midnight, took her to his surgery, sedated her and reassured me that she would be okay, even though she had a broken leg, an eye hanging out and bleeding from her ear and mouth. He removed her eye, patched up her ear and mouth, x-rayed her, bandaged up her leg and kept her in his surgery for a week and she survived it all with a few missing bits. He allowed me to visit her in the surgery. As if that wasn’t enough, last April, she caught her tail in the gate and she had to have it removed. The night I brought her it was 7.30pm and he was seeing his clients before rushing off to catch the ferry in Dun Laoghaire to do a day course on exotic animals in England and he was travelling back the following night. Peter was very sensitive about it, explaining that the tail was severely damaged and it was necessary to have it amputated and that due to her age, she might not survive the anaesthetic. Well she did, much to his surprise and ours, she was able to come home on the same day, was a little groggy and sore, but next day she was pottering around and Peter had put a little pants on her to keep out infection, she looked so funny and he saw her every day for 4 days after to make sure she was okay. Well 5 months later she is none the worse and on her visit to Peter last week, she was pronounced in fine form (for her age) with just a bit of arthritis in the damaged leg and a “dicky” heart. I have met so many people in Tallaght with a tale to tell of Peter’s kindness and care for their particular pets and I have told them to tell it to you, some are old people and say “sure I would be no good at putting it down on paper, you do it”. One lady told me she had called Peter one Christmas Day as her beloved collie was sick, he came out to her (she was one of five calls he made on that Christmas Day) gave the dog an injection and reassured her all would be well and he called the next day and told her the dog was not going to get better, but he had spared her the ordeal until Christmas was over and she told me that his humanity and kindness helped her come to terms with the loss of her dog. The above is only a brief summary of how good Peter is, how hard and long hours he works and after 30 years of living in Tallaght I am shortly relocating to Wexford, but one thing is sure, I intend to travel back to Peter with my pets for as long as he is in Tallaght, he is the “best”.

COUNTY: Co Dublin
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: The Animal Clinic, Phoenix Park, North Circular Road, Dublin 7
WHY NOMINATED: I’ve had my beloved Lassie for the last 16 years. When I lost my husband 10 years ago Lassie became my sole companion in life. I just recently lost Lassie through old age and illness, through her illness I found Sid to be most kind and considerate visiting me at any hour and all I had to do was pick up the phone through this harrowing time. Syd restored my faith in human kindness and I don’t know what I would have done without his help, as I live alone and his compassion helped my enormously. After Lassie died he organised things for me, Lassie was cremated and Syd helped me choose a special little urn for to hold lassie’s ashes. Which now has pride of place in my home.

COUNTY: Co Limerick
VET NOMINATED: Hugh O’Callaghan
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Cathedral & Cresent Veterinary, Limerick
WHY NOMINATED: I have been with Cathedral vets for about 10 years. I have brought in everything from a goat to a duck including the dogs frequently. Hugh has always had a smile, loads of patience, is a genuine caring person and nothing is ever too much trouble for him. In saying that so are the other vets ie. Mike Cantry. But Hugh is outstanding in his care, even when I have seen him stressed out and tired one time. He is the best. I brought a full boar pot bellied pig. He started to become vicious when he got to 4 months. Hugh recommended that he go for the snip, if I only wanted him for a pet. I had a special box made to transport him to the veterinary centre. I told Hugh to be careful when opening it as he’d run wild, that he was always escaping out of his run. Hugh forgot what I said and opened the box and out he jumped, and up and down the surgery waiting rooms, corridors. It took half an hour and all the staff to catch him. He is now 1.5 year old and a brilliant pet. He is huge and aptly named Houdini. Sheep’s names: Dolly, Jody, Jesse and Jake the Ram. Goats names AR – Charity she has sent a daughter to Bothair for Tanzina. She is old now. Misty a young goat. Jack the lad the puck – he has been called other names when he got into my flower garden and ate the lot.

COUNTY: Co Limerick
VET NOMINATED: Hugh O’Callaghan
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Cathedral Veterinary Clinic, Cathedral Place, Limerick
WHY NOMINATED: Because he is simply the best ! He has looked after my pet dogs Patch & Scruffy with great care, professionalism and friendliness whenever they have seen him over the years. He has a quiet, reassuring manner, and always has a smile. More recently, my husband was recuperating after having suffered from a heart attack, and was taking our two dogs for a walk. While out, a dog was set on ours, resulting in Scruffy being injured. I was extremely worried about my husband’s health, and now had poor Scruffy hurt. I rushed him down to Hugh, and even though the surgery was closed, Hugh was in the operating theatre, he finished in there and immediately took Scruffy from me, for treatment of two bad puncture wounds etc. He was marvellous. I was so distraught and worried, not only for Scruffy, but also for my husband, and Hugh was so understanding and kind. Later that evening I had to rush Scruffy back to see Hugh, as his leg was swelling up. Again Hugh was brilliant – he looked after Scruffy and in time, Scruffy was well again. Unfortunately my husband was rushed back into hospital again that night – what had happened while he took the dogs out for a walk, had obviously caused this. He was in hospital for a few days until his condition stablised, and was then left home, thank God. It was an extremely worrying time for me as I’ve mentioned, but Hugh was marvellous throughout. He is more than deserving of a special award.

VET NOMINATED: John O’Driscoll
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Glasslyn Road Vets, Kilbrogan Hill, Bandon
WHY NOMINATED: Because he is a gentle man in every sence of the word, and more important he cares for and loves animals. I am not sure if the vet in question is retired, or semi retired, but you might consider him for a special award when you hear my story. It all began in November 1992 when I met the vet in question on a country lane, I know him vaguely, but had heard stories about his work. I told him I had a terrier 11 years old who was drinking a lot of water and not eating very well. He told me to bring him to his house where he had a small surgery late that evening, which was separate from his main premises on the main Bandon-Cork Road where he had 3 or 4 vets working for him. I brought my faithful terrier Tiny to his house late that evening dressed in a ragged coat and a piece of cord around his neck. I knocked on his side door and when he opened it a bright gleam came into his eyes. He just looked at my dog, and then at me, and the first words he spoke to me was “an old friend”. I knew in my heart and soul, when he said that, my dog had not much time to live, don’t ask me how I knew, but I did. He brought him in to his surgery and examined him. He said it felt and looked like Tiny’s kidneys were packing in, but we will do the best we can. For 2 weeks after that, I went to his house where he would give Tiny’s two injections every night and also give me tablets for him, and all at no charge. As I watched him talk and examine my dog, I knew the man was gifted or blessed with something special. And to see me very night after his own day’s work speaks volumes for the man. I told the vet if my dog was suffering, I wanted him put down. But to my relief, he said he was not suffering, but only in discomfort. The night before he died I took him to my bedroom and said goodbye to my friend and I am not ashamed to say I lost a few tears along the way. I buried him in my back garden with the medal he won for racing around his neck and put a timber cross over him. It simply reads PALS. I would like to think that includes Tiny, John and myself. I hope you give this man some award, because if I had the power I would give him an Oscar, or a Distinguished Citizen Award. These days John takes it a bit easier because he has had a by-pass operation. He does a lot of walking and a bit of golf, but always has time for a smile and a wave. PS. Even a few months ago, I got him to check another terrier at his home. He is 8 years old and has a lump on his neck. John says not to be too worried, it is his lymph glands. He said let him enjoy his life and give him vitamin tablets. He shook my hand and it brought all the old memories back to me. I sent this letter to an English paper and got no reply. Please give this man some recognition he deserves. Signed: An Old Friend.

VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Aardveld Veterinary Clinic, Ballydehob
WHY NOMINATED: Because in addition to his excellent professional ability, his selfless caring for pet welfare is exceptional. I have 3 dogs, 4 cats, 2 vietnamese pot bellied pigs, a number of chickens, 2 anglo nubican goats and a bori buck – all pets ! I could recount numerous examples of Tim O’Leary’s special care of my pets, since moving here 14 years ago. The story I’ve chosen is of Liam. Tim bought a newfoundland puppy who had been “rescued” from the puppy farm trade along with her father, Liam and two other Newfy bitches. All had suffered desparate trauma from their previous experiences, particularly Liam who had also suffered a fractured skull, leaving his head mishapen. Tim knew I would always give a Newfy a good home, and so Liam came to me. Initially Tim treated him for ear mites, and a severe worm infestation, and he was vaccinated. However he also appeared malnourished, but refused food. He howled at night, trembled a lot and appeared to be emotionally “dead”. So Tim had the challenge of Liam’s physical health (and I his mental health !!). Tim established through lab tests not only that Liam had e -coli, but also irritable bowel syndrome, and a severely depleted immune system. Tim’s determination to stablise Liam’s condition and his caring expertise undoubtedly saved Liam’s life. Two years on, Liam is now a 7 year old, 11 stone Newfy, thriving on a diet of chicken and rice (with a little seaweed cooked into the rice) plus 1 grame a day of pro-biotic powder and an enzyme capsule. He is now an incredibly happy boy, has great craic with my other two dogs, loves his walks and swimming off the beach. Liam is the first registered PAT (Pets as Therapy – a UK charity) dog in the Republic. I’ve since discovered the Republic’s equal – PEATA – with whom we are now in contact. With Tim’s keen support – he conducted Liam’s character test – Liam is now visiting the patients in our local hospital each week. The Matron is delighted with the response to him from the patients. To conclude, Liam would not have survived but for Tim’s dedication to “bring him back from the dead”, and restore his quality of life. Despite his enormous farm and other pet commitments, Tim has always been here when needed – bank holidays, overnight, whenever. My acclaim of Tim O’Leary is re-echoed by “the locals”. He is sought after for his caring, professional skills and his dedication to animal welfare. He’s a vet in a milllion.

VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Animal Care Clinic, The Fingerpost Douglas
WHY NOMINATED: About four years ago Scruffy seemed to revert back to puppy-hood. He began to wet the floor at night and act even more oddly than usual. I took him to see John for a check-up. Scruffy’s initial tests were all okay. I then mentioned his behaviour to John who decided to try one more test. Low and behold, it turned out that Scruffy was diabetic. He would have to be monitored and injected every day to keep him fit and healthy. We were devastated as at first we thought he might become too ill and be put down. No, through the wonderful work and care of John and his staff, he levelled off his insulin and became his old pompous and unique self again. We were off on holidays soon after this and Scruffy and his very best friend Pepper, were off to the kennels. As it turned out, the lady couldn’t manage and brought Scruffy back to John and asked him to take care of Scruffy’s injections. Well, would any other vet take over the caring of a lone bad tempered mut just like that ! I don’t believe so. To show how a profession can become a life-style, John took Scruffy into his clinic and all the girls treated him like a Lord. Seemingly he even began to check out animals coming to see John, liking some and disliking most. At the weekend John took Scruffy home with him and treated him like a member of the family, going for walks, having chats and becoming friends. When I came back from holidays, the story from the girls in the clinic was that John and Scruffy had done some serious ‘male bonding’ whilst I was away ! Scruffy’s story is certainly one of having not only a loving family to live with but a kind and good friend as his Vet. He is a unique dog who has a unique Vet and John is someone that none of us could do without, as without him we wouldn’t have our dear, cantankerous friend, still alive and filling our days with acts of totally god-like behaviour. John and his staff deserve this award for their treatment of Scruffy! alone and also the wonderful work they do with our pets and those of our neighbours and people who’s pets need professional yet caring attention. It would be a wonderful accolade to all his and his staff’s work. Certainly, I know what Scruffy might say – an award from “A Dog of Character to A Man of Character”

COUNTY: Co Dublin
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Lissenhall Veterinary, Swords,
WHY NOMINATED: He gave my dog Penny the very best of care when she nearly died giving birth to a litter of pups. She went into stress on a Sunday afternoon. I noticed she was not right. I rang Lissenhall Veterinary and Dennis was on duty. He told me to bring Penny up to him. I was in a terrible state because I loved my dog so much. One of the pups was blocking the others from being born. Denis advised me the best thing to do was section Penny. He went through every detail with me about what he was going to do. He really relaxed me down, I knew then penny was in very good hands. He told me to go home and he would take good care of Penny, believe me he was true to his word. At 6.30 Sunday evening Dennis rang to say it was all over. Penny was fine with 5 beautiful pups. I could never thank Dennis enough for his kind, loving care or the great work he does to save animals such as Penny. That was 3 years ago. Since then, Penny has died with old age. I have 3 other dogs and Dennis is my best friend as a vet who looks after all my dogs. I know that he has healing hands and a great big kind heart when it comes to looking after animals. I would recommend Dennis any day for a nomination any day because he talks to the animals like children. I could never thank Dennis enough for the hard work he does. But best of all he will never let me down when it comes to caring for my dogs, I trust him with my heart. All I can say I am thank-ful for vets like Dennis. Thank you Dennis for everyting.

COUNTY: Co Wexford
VET NOMINATED: Annette Quegan
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Barrowside Veterinary Hospital, Millbanks, Rosbercon, New Ross
WHY NOMINATED: I moved to the New Ross area a year ago, and was very fortunate to come across Annette, who had studied for a few years in the UK. During this time she had gained some experience in the care of fancy rats. One of my rats, Lace, was under medication for a severe chest infection when we moved. Annette was able to continue this treatment and as a consequence Lace lived a good quality of life, in the circumstances, for another 6 months. Previous veterinary advice had given a few weeks of life at the most. My second rat, Lavender, was diagnosed with two tumours in May of this year. Surgery was not an option, so I chose to try a cancer drug that had been very successful in the USA. Annette gathered information together and rang other vets experienced in exotic pets, and after many phone calls the drugs was obtained. The tumours didn’t get any bigger, but other unrelated problems took a hold and Lavender was put to sleep two weeks ago. Annette was very understanding, seeing us at the end of surgery and waiting patiently until we had finished saying goodbye. Nothing is very too much trouble for Annette. She will always see you, even at short notice, and she spends as much time with you in the consultation as you require. Unlike some vets I have seen in the past, who try and adopt a conveyor belt system – next please ! Even though Annette is expecting a baby, she still met me late at night after the surgery was closed, so Lavender wouldn’t miss one of her essential injections. Annette is one in a million and an exceptional vet, and I have no hesitation in recommending her to anyone in the area with small pets. NS as both of my rats have now died, others will join my family soon, and Annette and I can’t wait to learn more about these fascinating animals !

COUNTY: Co Wexford
VET NOMINATED: Annette Quegan
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Barrowside Veterinary, Rosbercon, New Ross
WHY NOMINATED: I will attempt to convery to you the reasons why I think without shadow of a doubt that Annette should walk away with your competition. In order for you to get a full picture of her, I have broken down the following into three sections – I hope you will be able to follow and be able to read my terrible writing. A) ME AND MY DOG
I am a 47 year old single male who works away from home 3-4 days a week and Foley is my boxer dog who is five and a half years old. From the day I picked up Foley to bring him home, we just seemed to get on – or if you want to call it – bond. Since then he has become my “best mate” and also the vein of my life at the same time, if you can understand that. When I am away working, my mother looks after him. She is 77 years old. B) ABOUT ANNETTE
She is I think about 27-28 years only, married with 5 kids who are like steps of stairs and expecting her sixth !! She works in the practise every day and also does testing in a factory in Bagnelstown every day. Starts in the practice at 9am till lunchtime – then off to the factory till 5 or 5.30pm then back to the practise for a few hours. C) ME, MY DOG AND ANNETTE
From the word go, Annette has been Foley’s vet. The first couple of months were normal ie. the usual things – injections, worming, check ups etc. Annette at the time mentioned Pet Plan insurance to me but I did not take it out. Then Foley’s health started to go downhill. (I am not sure how you spell this, coalitis) was the first, which was immediately diagnosed by her. I was really up-tight about this, especially as I was a way a lot and not able to keep an eye on him and my mother found it difficult to administer medication etc. Annette would call to the house almost on a daily basis and check on him and ring me to let me know how he was doing. Then a month or so later, he started to get these lumps all over his body. Again daily contact and examinations and arranged for Foley to be seen by Rory in the Vet’s Hospital, Ballsbridge, Dublin, who also proved to be of the same calibre of person as Annette. Next Foley started to loose a lot of his hair in patches. Again Annette would call to the house on her way to and from work, checking on Foley and my mother to make sure both were OK – Foley responding to treatment – and my mother coping – at the same time. Everything was under control until one Sunday lunch time, while I was out walking Foley, before I left he just collapses on the road side. Annette had given me her home number, mobile number etc just in case, she was due to go out with her family for Sunday lunch, she was not on call – she just cancelled everything and drove to where we were. Did an initial examination at the road side then off to the surgery for hours of examination. She cancelled all other plans for the day. Again over the next week, daily home calls and contacting me at work. Now five and a have years later, Foley is on daily medication controlling his complaint successfully – even now there is regular contact on her part to see how he is doing. I hope you have been able to get some sort of picture of how dedicated Annette is, not to mention caring and very hard working and very good at her job.

COUNTY: Co Galway
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Tom Rennick/Tirboy, Tirboy, Church View, Tuam
WHY NOMINATED: On Thursday August 16th, our world was turned upside down. Darkie, our 10 year old Collie was playing, rolling over on his back, I discovered what appeared to be a lump. My heart sank, we rushed to Tuam for evening surgery Darkie is the much loved pet of my elderly mother – he is a friend, watchdog and childminder to my two children – aged 6 and especially my 5 year old daughter Laura. Tom confirmed that Darkie had indeed a tumour and it needed urgent surgery. He was immediately concerned for my mother – who faithfully brings Darkie for his injections every year. He carefully weighed Darkie (whose weight is a secret between vet and dog !) then he organised a geriatric does of anaesthetic for him, he swiftly organised Darkie’s operation for 2.30pm on Friday afternoon. My husband and I were reassured by Tom that he would be “alright” – his heart was the only concern. He gave Darkie a pre-op antibiotic and then we left for the journey home. Darkie was happy – he knows Tom well and has absolute confidence – he actually enjoys going to the vet. We spent that night talking and worrying about Darkie – also we knew we had to prepare Laura for Darkie’s operation. On the Friday morning we told her – and she accepted that he had to have the operation and with all the optimism of a 5 year old she stated – Tom will make him better. It was hard to deprive Darkie of his breakfast but the clock loomed towards the afternoon. Laura insisted on travelling to the vets’ with Darkie. Darkie had always been with her, side by side with her buggy, then on the bike and more recently her scooter ! It was a tearful parting as we set off to the vet that afternoon. Tom re-assured us that Darkie would be fine. He was so understanding of Laura – wanting to see her doggie, he asked repeatedly about my mother. Darkie was put on the operating table at 2.40 and Laura rubbed his paws (we were in tears !). Tom told Laura that Darkie would need plenty of love and support for his recovery and he told her “he knows he has that”. After a few minutes, he suggested we leave and give a phone call at 4.30pm. We left the surgery – Laura kept saying “Mammy don’t be crying – Tom will make Darkie better!”. She then wanted to buy biscuits for Darkie’s homecoming. The time dragged until 4.30, it was with fear and trembling we picked up the phone at 4.30. Tom’s nurse gave us the good news. “Darkie was awake and wanted to come home”. We made it to Tuam in quick time – Darkie was sitting up. Tom had given him painkillers for the night, he had removed the tumour and Darkie was just to have light food and gentle exercise. We took Darkie home – a heroe’s welcome. That night we checked on Darkie every few hours. The next morning he hopped up and did a short walk, “nice” breakfast. Ten days later, Darkie had his nine stitches out, the results of the lab were back, the tumour was cancerous. Today Darkie is taking much longer walks, he is in better form than ever. Tom Rennick dealt with us, Darkie and Laura in a sympathetic and understanding manner. How many people would have put up with a 5 year old in with her “Darkie” as he was being knocked out for his operation ! To say Darkie enjoys going to the vet, shows the kindness of the man and this is much appreciated.

COUNTY: Co Galway
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Tom Rennick Veterinary, Church View, Tuam
WHY NOMINATED: Sixteen years ago, last May, a stray cat arrived on our doorstep heavily pregnant. She had no tail only a little stump like a rabbit and when she tried to have her kittens, she was unable, so we took her to Tom Rennick. He delivered 5 kittens by caesarean but thought they were all dead on account of the difficult birth. However one kitten cried and he discovered there were two alive. He put them in a saucepan of warm water to keep them warm, as the mother cat was still unconscious. One kitten was handicapped – her back leg and tail had formed together so she had one longer looking back leg. A few months later Tom had to put her to sleep. The other kitten, Nosey, is still alive and is the ripe old age of 16. She broke her tip twice and each time Tom came to the rescue and she recovered with no problems. She started to loose her hair, which Tom diagnosed as a hormone problem (because she was neutered) so he treated her with Hormone Replacement Tablets which immediately rectified the problem. In general, she had many health problems over the years, from abscesses to Feline Enteritis, but Tom has always treated her successfully and it is thanks to him she has lived to 16+. She is now suffering from Gingivitis and got Herpes in her eye, which made her blind, but throughout all of this Tom has kept her comfortable. We have had numerous cats (all strays that adopted us !) which in turn have developed unusual illnesses and Tom has diagnosed and treated them all, only giving up when he knew the animal was suffering. We had one cat that was bitten at the base of his tail by another cat and was paralysed but within 24 hours of Tom treating him, he was walking again and, in time, recovered completely. There was a period where many cats in the neighbourhood were poisoned and through Tom’s quick response and care the cats are still alive today. Where Tom really shone was with our dog: Three and a half years ago my mother found our dog, which was a stray we acquired 14 years ago, lying paralysed in his bed. We again called on Tom who diagnosed “Lucky” had had a stroke. Tom asked us if we were prepared to put the work into helping the dog recover, as he wanted to give him the chance if we were willing. We had to spoon-feed him with baby rice as he had forgotten how to eat and after going through dog food, Complan and numerous other soft foods, we discovered all he would swallow was the baby rice ! He had to be turned regularly in his bed so his lungs wouldn’t fill with fluid and Tom looked after all the medical side of things. Gradually Lucky became stronger and got back on his feet and for two more years had a happy life – he was old and had a bit of a limp like a human stroke victim, but other than that he was fine. Last September, however, he began to get slower and one day he just fell down and hadn’t the energy to get up. We knew he had had enough and Tom put him gently to sleep. These stories are merely snippets of Tom’s dedication over the years – and we are only one family from the hundreds of families he deals with. Tom has always been there whenever we called on him – even outside surgery hours. He will not give up on an animal if he thinks there is the slightest chance they might recover, unless the animal is suffering. He treats every animal as if it were his own and the compassion he shows to their owners is overwhelming. We would trust Tom with any decision, as we know he’ll make the right one. He never seems to care about the money (only that he might charge more than people can afford) and if someone didn’t have a penny Tom would treat an animal rather than leave it suffer. Tom has earned great respect in our town and over the years, any person that has had dealings with him has nothing but praise for him and he is truly deserving of this award as recognition for his great work.

COUNTY: Co Galway
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Veterinary Clinic, Tirboy, Church View, Tuam
WHY NOMINATED: There is nothing remarkable about Rusty, my friend and companion, my Jack Russell. I have no outlandish or unusual story to tell of amazing events in Rusty’s life. Rusty is just good old Rusty, loyal and faithful, “my best friend”. His life story is simple. When I was widowed 9 years ago, my family (who are all grown up) gave me Rusty. Since that time, Rusty guards the bottom of my bed, licking my toes, sits on my lap, lays at my feet, follows me wherever I go. I in turn groom and feed him like a king, and treat him like a buddy. For me at 76, he is the perfect soul mate. You couldn’t imagine my horror as I watched the tumour grow bigger in his left ear. At first I ignored it, hoping it would burst or go away. Soon I resigned myself to the fact that Rusty was going to have to be put down. This is when I phoned Tom Rennick, Rusty’s vet, and he completely took over from there. To say that Tom was unbelieveably kind to both of us is my small effort to put how wonderful he is in words. He treated not just my pet, but me as the pet owner, with kid gloves. I knew that whatever the outcome, Rusty would get nothing but the very best. He said not to worry about cost until we saw what the outcome would be. The outcome was positive and Rusty survived the operation. Tom’s face expressed my joy – he knew he had saved not just my dog but my best friend. As I write this, Rusty is looking in the kitchen window at me with an expression on his face as though he’s wondering what could be so important to take my attention away from him as he scratches the window with his muddy paws. When I’m finished I will tell him that I have taken the time to nominate the wonderful vet who saved his life (and in many ways, mine !).

COUNTY: Co Donegal
VET NOMINATED: Susan Roulston
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Susan Roulston Veterinary, Moneymore, Newtowncunningham,
WHY NOMINATED: I would like to nominate my vet because, whether the animal has an owner or not they are all treated with equal compassion. The following examples illustrate this: (1) The stray cat brought in because it had been hit by a car. It had a broken jaw. Susan wired it up and kept it until the jaw mended, in the meantime it was found to be pregnant, so was further kept until the kittens were born and weaned and homes were found for them. (2) A whelping terrier brought in to the surgery by an unsympathetic owner who had drowned each puppy as it was born until the bitch was so traumatised it was unable to have the last puppy. Susan sedated it, and in due course, it produced the puppy naturally. She rang the owner and said if she would leave the last puppy on the bitch for six weeks, she would find a home for it. But no, she was instructed to kill it. She kept the pup herself, with all the work of rearing a wee pup from birth – by the end of six weeks she and her family had become so attached to it, she kept it ! But that was not the original intention. (3) A dog was brought in to Susan on Christmas morning, having eaten rat poison. Susan said it was dying in front of her eyes and there was only one way to save it – a blood transfusion. So she got her own dog into the surgery, took blood from it, gave it to the dying dog and saved it. Maybe the above is of no interest to you because they are not my dogs. All my own dogs over the years have been very well looked after, but luckily none have been very traumatic !

COUNTY: Co Dublin
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Botanic Veterinary Hospital, Botanic Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 9
WHY NOMINATED: I bought 2 black cocker spaniels 4 years ago which I called Phoebe and Sophie. At ten weeks Phoebe developed an eye condition which became very serious resulting in it going totally blue and within weeks she was blind in one eye and had to have it removed. From this date Tanis took Phoebe under her wing and tirelessly cared for her. The second eye developed the same condition shortly after this and for the following year with the help of Tanis and Michael Woods along with many operations Phoebe’s eye was saved. Since Phoebe was registered with Tanis she has had numerous problems along with character changing conditions as a result of the surgery, but Tanis (being Tanis) never once complained and always showed Phoebe great attention and I would have to say love. She worked with Phoebe, never once getting annoyed with her and Phoebe was a very difficult dog at times, a very frightened and scared dog but Tanis would on occasion spend up to five minutes hugging her and playing with her prior to examining her to make her more at ease. She is the only vet which has showed this care and attention to Phoebe and I thank her for that. Tanis also showed me great support and gave me superb advice about working with Phoebe to ensure that her beautiful, friendly character returned, and guess what, it has worked. Tanis has seen Phoebe I would at a guess say 30 times in the last four years. I have been able to phone her and simply get her advice an anything I was worried about. I must say that I could never get a better vet than Tanis the only one who Phoebe likes. Now let me move on to my second cocker spaniel Sophie, while Sophie has also had her problems, the main problem and the one which I am most grateful to Tanis for is her incontinence problem. It started with us thinking she had infections but thanks to Tanis’s tremendous and diligent work she quickly and professionally realised it was incontinence. I have never seen a vet cover every possible alternative before but Tanis surely did. She also did all the preparatory work before organising an appointment with Ballsbridge for me to have Sophie seen by a professional in the field. Tanis told me that there was a procedure available called a colposuspension and advised that I allow Ballsbridge to carry it out. I have mentioned this to other vets in passing and to my astonishment they were not even aware of what the operation was. During the four days Sophie was in hospital in Ballsbridge Tanis phoned me twice to check up on her progress, and following me taking her home checked up on us regularly. On one occasion Sophie was in great pain and it was 11pm on a Saturday night and I was very reluctant to disturb Tanis but as the dog was unable to walk I did phone and I still remember Tanis’s reaction, it was one of great concern not only for Sophie but for me also, needless to say she sorted the problem out but I remember her saying to me don’t leave Sophie on her own, take her on your knee and hold her for a while and keep her near you during the night. This is a remark I would expect a vet to laugh at if I was to suggest it but not Tanis. This whole process took Tanis two years to sort out and she never once complained or gave me a short answer. One last incident I would like to bring to your attention is my mum’s canary. It was very unwell but not registered with Botanic. I telephoned Tanis and explained that it was not her patient but I would be most grateful if she would look at the bird, she did and although the bird was dying she said lets not give in yet, she gave him the injections every day for a number of days, told me to keep it by the fire but unfortunately the bird died. It was the care and consideration taken for a tiny animal such as this bird that touched me the most. The way she just held the litlle creature. Tanis is like that with all the animals I would say. I know the way she cares for my two dogs is incredible, they might as well be her own. It’s like she just loves them. She had brought Phoebe back from being a frightened, snappy dog to her beautiful, friendly fun loving self. She has changed Sophie’s life and has had a tremendous effect on mine also. All I can say without reiterating the above comments is that Tanis is a wonderful person. She would have given James Herriot a run for his money, there’s no doubt. She has an incredible manner and she has no idea how much respect and affection I have for her soley as a result of the care and affection she shows everyone else. She is an example to us all and may I wish her every success in her future as she is one in a million.

COUNTY: Dublin 9
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Botanic Veterinary Hospital, 183 Botanic Road, Glasnevin,
WHY NOMINATED: The Botanic Veterinary Hospital is a marvelous place ! All the vets are incredibly professional, the nurses are efficient, but most of all each member of staff cares about the patients and their owners. Everyone at the hospital treats the animals with respect and compassion, and they always remember that although the patients are animals, to their owners they are family, and as a result the treatment and standard of care is impeccible. In particular Tanis is a wonderful vet. We have two dogs and a cat, and they receive excellent care at Botanic, but is is the care Penny has received from Tanis that has really shown her to be a fantastic vet. Penny is a shih-tzu which we rescued about 14 years ago. She has had many health problems. She has arthritis, she has had tumours removed (one the size of a tennis ball !!), she has had to have an emergency hysterectomy, she has only one eye, and she is blind in the other !!! This may sound like she is a crock, but in fact she is one of the happiest, most contented dogs I have ever seen, and this has a huge amount to do with the fabulous care she has received from Tanis. Unfortunately for Penny, all of the problems she encountered occurred when she was already an old dog. Many vets would not have bothered with her, and would have recommended euthanasia. However, Tanis always gave her a chance. Even when we knew the odds were against her, still Tanis was willing to try to save her. This was especially true when she had to have an emergency hysterectomy. It looked bleak but thanks to Tanis she was right as rain within a few days. Penny is one of the family. It would break our hearts if she were to die, and Tanis knows how much we love her. Because of this Tanis always treats Penny with the same level of compassion as we do. She has become a friend to us and to Penny, and she is a remarkable vet. In fact all at Botanic are lovely. They always have smile and a friendly word. When you are worried about your loved ones they offer support. I have seen a few unfortunate people leave the hospital with one less family member, and the staff have proved to be of valuable support to them. And I am not the only one who thinks this, as the hundreds of cards of thanks they receive shows. The whole practice is wonderful, but particularly so is Tanis, and we (Penny included !) would love it if her wonderful work were to be recognised by this award – she truly deserves it !

COUNTY: Co Wicklow
VET NOMINATED: Pete Wedderburn
VET SURGERY / ADDRESS: Bray Veterinary Clinic, Old Conna Road, Bray
WHY NOMINATED: He is the most animal loving patient vet that I have ever met. He looked after my late Jack Russel “Wings” with such care and thought for myself and my son as well. He was so busy at the time but I never once felt rushed or in the way, as I probably was many times. He tried every possible treatment to give Wings a chance and left it to me to realise that we had reached the end. He is so dedicated to his work and long may he continue to tend sick animals, in his own very speical way. About a week after Wings demise we received a lovely letter from Pete, this was such a help to us as we were so lost. I am so pleased to get this opportunity, and it is a great idea.