Recently our Animal Hospital Champions Northwest clinic cat, Zipper, did something so extraordinary it merited an entire blog post devoted to his special deeds. On November 16, 2011, Tara Harris brought her 11 year-old Jack Russell terrier to our hospital and saw Dr. Urrea for a first time appointment. “Allie’s” presenting complaints were panting and lethargy. Dr. Urrea’s physical exam revealed, through , a mass in the abdomen and he recommended an exploratory surgery as the best course of action to gather information about the worrisome growth. Numbed by this devastating new about her health, Allie’s family returned the next day for the surgery. Their worry was evident as they quietly waited in the lobby during Allie’s surgery.
Our clients care about pets for many reasons, but most everyone agrees their mere presence can make a bad day better. Unbeknownst to our staff, Zipper had a special sense about how the Harrises felt that day of Allie’s surgery. He found his way right into Tara’s lap and comforted her while they waited for news about Allie. Zipper’s simple act of feline kindness, Tara said afterward, sustained and kept her calm during the surgery.
Dr. Melissa Blessinger successfully removed a 10 centimeter mass from Allie’s small intestine. There were no complications while Allie was under anesthesia throughout the procedure, which was the best news of the day. A few hours after Allie woke up from her surgery the Harrises returned for a visit. Our staff moved Allie to the consultation room for some family private time. But, they were not alone for long. Again, Zipper found his way to the Harrises. This time, however, he snuggled right up next to a recovering Allie. Strangely, the Harrises said Allie never liked cats, but on that day she tolerated Zipper. We like to think, Allie found comfort in Zipper’s presence, too, that day in the hospital.
As we speak with pride among ourselves about Zipper’s phenomenal acts of caring toward the Harrises, our staff theorizes that on some level, Zipper finds consoling clients and patients to be part of his role as a clinic cat. (Clinic cats also give blood, entertain clients, help our staff during stressful days, and can even serve as models to mock demonstrate a procedure or illustrate a point for a client.)
We love a good clinic story, and Zipper has one as well. Just a few weeks before Allie’s surgery, a man walked into our sister hospital, Animal Hospital Jones Road, with a four-month old orange tabby kitten. For personal reasons, he could no longer keep the cat and thought euthanasia was the only option for this young male cat. Our front desk saw he was a darling kitten and helped the man locate a rescue organization that would come to Animal Hospital Jones Road and get him that evening, so the man left the kitten in our care. It was obvious he was such a special, affectionate cat; we quickly decided he would be a perfect clinic cat, and knew just the place for this little orange tabby – Animal Hospital Champions Northwest. Now a fixture at the front desk, Zipper adapted to his new home quickly. This is our tale of the endearing Zipper and his “job” bringing comfort to the Harrises, and hopefully, many other clients.
(For the record, Buttons is our other clinic cat at Animal Hospital Champions Northwest, and we have Simon and Fern at Animal Hospital Jones Road. They are all special.)