October 2012 home page

Old Dog Young Vet
Shirley King | Avenida Primavera


Penny with her ball. Photo Art Olson

Bringing up our dog, Penny, from puppyhood was filled with many joyous moments and delightful surprises with her evolving personality and native abilities. She became intoxicated with tirelessly chasing any ball at high speed. She matched that intensity with her loyalty and unabashed love for us. Bringing her down now at age thirteen with a spinal cord tumor that will eventually undermine her ambulation is fraught with deep grief and many agonized decisions. Unlike any other relationship having a pet for a lengthy time means living through both ends of the life cycle.

The path of our care for Penny became much less ambiguous when we switched to a new veterinarian, Dr. Layne Havens at the Del Mar Animal and Bird Hospital and Boarding Facility. Out of our panic-ridden crisis we quickly changed our viewpoint about what to do for our geriatric dog. Dr. Havens’s confidence and her incisive working plan began our partnership and the route to precise diagnosis and specialty interventions. Moving from reluctance to decisiveness we maneuvered Penny through an MRI and radiation therapy. Even though we were prepared for a guarded outcome, Penny regained mobility and her happy spirit – a result that gives us precious extra months.

Having Dr. Havens, a 2008 graduate of Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, guide us with both the practical measures along with the big picture abated our early grief and helplessness. Dr. Havens’s inside knowledge of The UC Davis Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Sorrento Valley when she interned in general medicine and surgery bridged our way to the neurology and oncology specialists who knew her well. We soon learned the depth and breadth of Veterinary medicine beyond the preventive care for the young years. First hand we discovered that treatment practices are right on the heels of human medicine if not neck and neck.

Our good old dog and this keen, young veterinarian have taught us some new tricks - having a thoughtful geriatric care plan, using a boarding facility that can respond to Penny’s changing medical needs, thankful that we renewed the cancer rider for our pet health insurance policy and planning an eventual euthanasia performed by Dr. Havens in our home when Penny will need the most loving hands.

The Animal and Bird Hospital owned by Dr. Havens and Dr. Steve Mira since January 2012 is located adjacent to Free Flight Bird Sanctuary on Jimmy Durante Blvd. It offers complete diagnostic, surgical and ancillary care – laboratory, radiology, ultrasound, services. Canine daycare and overnight boarding for dogs cats and birds are available.



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