One of the things that has always kept me professionally and personally motivated are my pets. Having animals to come home to, to be able to experience the human-animal bond first-hand, reminds me why I became a veterinarian in the first place. Perhaps it's appropriate that both of my current dogs (two wonderful miniature dachshunds) came into my life needing significant love and veterinary care.

While I was teaching at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University, my wife and I took a trip to Jackson. Traveling down a 70 mph highway in the middle of nowhere, we saw some kind of small, brown animal trotting purposefully down the white line, looking at neither the left nor right. As we whizzed past, we did a double-take as we realized it was a very small dachshund. We turned around and scooped her up. We estimated her age to be between 8 and 10. She wasn't spayed, and had worms, fleas, a skin condition, and breast cancer. We took her home, where she immediately chased the cat and then jumped up on the back of the sofa like she had lived there all her life.

I had my veterinary students spay her and remove the tumors, and now she's cancer-free. Maggie Mae is spoiled rotten, but that's the way it should be!

Our Oscar had been hit by a car and brought in to the Mississippi State University teaching hospital by a Good Samaritan. He was in shock with broken ribs and pelvis, and no owner. After several days of TLC and treatment, he was stable and alert. He looked like such a little angel curled up in his bed in ICU. My students said, "Dr. R., don't you want another mini-dachshund to keep Maggie Mae company? He is so sweet!"

My wife came over to see him and we were both smitten. We carefully carried him home because he still had a lot of rehabilitation to go through. He and my other dachshund hit it off famously. It didn't take long to discover his peaceful nature was apparently drug-induced. As soon as the pain medication wore off, my sweet little angel turned into a hyperactive, crazy dynamo. It quickly became a challenge to keep him from bouncing off the ceilings. However, I wouldn't change a thing. We love him and he's worth it!


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