Posts Tagged ‘human-animal bond’

Who Was Dr. Leo Bustad?

July 9, 2011

I first heard of Dr. Leo K Bustad in association with the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award.  Since 1986 this award has been bestowed upon veterinarians whose work exemplifies and promotes the human animal bond. When I first learned of the award I remember thinking, how fabulous to honor this important professional achievement rather than the academic/research accomplishments more commonly recognized within the profession.  Some of the veterinarians I most admire have been recipients of this award including my friends Drs. Jane Shaw, Alice Villalobos, and Marty Becker.

Fast-forward to 2011 and here I am pinching myself since learning a few months ago that I am the incredibly fortunate recipient of the 2011 Bustad Companion Animal of the Year Award! I feel honored beyond belief.

So who was the man who served as the inspiration for this award?  Dr. Leo Bustad was a veterinarian who also happened to be an outstanding educator, scientist and humanitarian. While dean of the veterinary school at Washington State University, he co-founded the People-Pet Partnership, the first university based community service program focusing on the human-animal bond. In 1981, the Partnership morphed into the Delta Society, an organization that continues to thrive and co-sponsors the Bustad Award along with the American Veterinary Medical Association and Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

The stated mission of the Delta Society is, “To help lead the world in advancing human health and well-being through positive interactions with animals.”  Dr. Bustad served as the first president of the Delta Society, a position he held until 1990.

As a veterinarian, Dr. Bustad’s interest ventured far beyond the healing of animals.  He devoted his professional life to the healing of humans through their relationships with animals. A great deal has been written in recent years about the human-animal bond. Perhaps the best description comes from Dr. Bustad himself. In 1985 he wrote, “On the basis of experiences by many people and institutions in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and North America, companion animals must be recognized as vital to the physical, psychological and social well-being of people and as agents of therapy in a great number of conditions and situations. Almost everyone could benefit by contact with warm “fuzzies” (unless we are allergic), and our companion animals offer us security, succor, esteem, understanding, forgiveness, fun and laughter and, most importantly, abundant and unconditional love. Furthermore, they make no judgments, and we can be ourselves with them. They also need our help and make us feel important.”

Dr. Leo Bustad passed away on September 19, 1998. He was 78 years old.  On July 16th, 2011 at the American Veterinary Medical Association conference, I will be deeply honored to accept the award memorializing Dr. Bustad’s heartfelt professional endeavors and pioneering accomplishments.

Best wishes for good health,

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Ricochet

September 24, 2010

I just had myself a good cry, and who wouldn’t after watching this video featuring an amazing dog named Ricochet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iIv5t2qKL4).  C’mon now, no one likes to cry alone- please watch it for yourself and report back on whether it was a one or two tissue viewing!

I love Ricochet’s story.  She’s a gorgeous Golden Retriever who was slated to be a service dog for people with disabilities.  She proved to be a bit of a handful, so much so that her human companion Judy Fridono disappointingly gave up on the career aspirations she had for Ricochet.  As Judy stated, “I struggled for 18 months trying to make her something she wasn’t.”  Little did she know that, not only would Ricochet become a service dog enhancing the lives of many people with disabilities, she would do so while riding a surfboard!  This wonderdog has been the “main event” at several fundraisers and, in doing so, has raised more than $50,000 to support people with disabilities (during tough economic times, I might add).  She recently received the highly coveted AKC award for canine excellence. Please check out Ricochet’s story at www.surfdogricochet.com.  You’ll also find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/surfdogricochet.

I hope you will “catch the wave” of Ricochet’s pure golden goodness and contribute to one of her many fundraisers.  After watching the video mentioned above (and after wiping my eyes and nose) I emailed Judy to say, “I simply cannot imagine our lives without dogs- they brighten our lives with so much joy, wonder, and grace.” Judy’s response….. “Can’t imagine life without dogs.  They’re our best teachers too.”

Now here’s wishing you and your four-legged family members abundant good health. 

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

You can support your favorite rescue group.  The Speaking for Spot Gives Back Program shares a portion of the sales proceeds with approved non-profit organizations when you purchase a book via the Speaking for Spot website and designate the organization at the time of purchase.

Online Connections Thanks to Speaking for Spot

October 28, 2009

 It has been a year since my book Speaking for Spot was released, and what an amazing year it has been.  I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible about the book business.  I’ve traveled with Spot, met many Spot fans, and was interviewed by one of my all time idols on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.  As word of Speaking for Spot has spread, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful people online and have thoroughly enjoyed hearing about their lives and their doggies.  Here are a couple of examples. 

Carolyn is a wildlife biologist living in Belize.  I’m jealous! My family had the good fortune of visiting Belize a few years back- my husband and I fantasized about not returning home!  Carolyn has provided me with some photos of her menagerie of dogs.  I sense that Maggie is the apple of her eye.  It’s no wonder- take a look at the photos of this insanely adorable little dog. 

Maddie and Carolyn

Maggie and Carolyn

Judy shares her life with Ricochet, an incredible Golden Retriever who loves to play in the waves, but not in the conventional canine fashion.  Ricochet rides a surfboard!  As Judy describes it, “Ricochet was slated to be a service dog for people with disabilities.  But she had too strong a chase drive, and I couldn’t trust that she wouldn’t try to chase birds while attached to a wheelchair.  I struggled for 18 months trying to make her something she wasn’t.  When I finally let go, she just flourished!” 

Ricochet and Patrick

Ricochet and Patrick

The sweetest part of Ricochet’s story is her special connection with fellow surfer, Patrick Ivison.  Patrick is a teenager who sustained a spinal cord injury and has now mastered the art of adaptive surfing. Patrick and Ricochet have surfed together as part of a successful fundraising campaign to raise money for Patrick’s physical rehabilitation program (donations are still being accepted at http://www.ripcurlricki.com/Donate.htm). To read more about Ricochet and Patrick, pay a visit to http://www.ripcurlricki.com/SurfinforPawsabilities.htm

Patrick and Ricochet

Patrick and Ricochet

If you’re like me, you just can’t help but smile looking at these photos.  Thanks to Carolyn and Judy for telling me about Maggie and Ricochet.  If you have a wonderful dog in your life (I’ll bet you do), I invite you to share your story!

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Differing Perspectives on the Same Observations

September 13, 2009

I’ve received many wonderful emails in response to my interviews on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. The stories I’ve heard about peoples’ pets run the gamut from delightful to heart wrenching. Many listeners described crying while driving- I certainly hope Terry and I were not responsible for creating any collisions!

I’ve also received emails from a handful of folks who were put off by the Fresh Air interviews. The content of Anne’s comments (printed below with her permission) is representative of what these disgruntled listeners had to say:

“I’m annoyed at how dogs have become soooo important over the past 10 years or so. They’re just pets! Just animals. Clearly all this elevation of dogs is a by-product of a society in trouble. Never would I have imagined that dogs would be referred to as ‘family members’ or ‘surrogate children.’ NEVER!! Back in the day, the dog was just the ‘family dog’, not ‘the dog family member.’ It was like, ‘Yeah, there’s the dog, so what?’ No thought was given to brushing its teeth, worrying about dog cancer, or feeling guilty if we went on vacation and left the dog at home with a neighbor to look after it. I recently read a book about an African village, and the hard life they have, and the poverty. I found it so shameful that they live like that, while America’s dogs are often dressed in designer clothes, waited on hand and foot, given the best medical care, the best food, cooed over, etc. What the hell has happened to Americans? We’ve gone nutty! Dogs are just dogs, driven by selfish instinct to look after its own interests.”

As easy as it would be to ignore such “fan mail,” I truly believe that Anne’s comments are worthy of consideration. Given what I do for a living, I have certainly grappled with what I believe Anne is questioning. Is it reasonable to invest so much, emotionally and financially, in our pets when there is so much human suffering in the world? After all, the amount of money spent on one of our four-legged family members during the course of a year would represent a fortune to someone who is impoverished. Wouldn’t “shut in” senior citizens relish the affection and attention we lavish upon our pets?

While I agree with Anne’s observations- yes, many people consider their pets to be “family members” and yes, there is a great deal of human suffering in the world- I disagree with her notion that doting on our pets detracts from our willingness and ability to give of ourselves to others. I contend that the opposite is true. Many studies have documented that the human-animal bond positively impacts peoples’ psychological well-being. People whose “emotional bellies” are full rather than empty are more inspired and capable of giving their time, energy, and financial resources to others in need. One need not be a scientist to know that pets bestow a unique brand of sweetness and joy upon our lives; they keep us grounded even when insanity abounds. As I state in the introduction of Speaking for Spot, “Today the human-animal bond is stronger than ever. Perhaps, the more tumultuous the world around us, the tighter we cling to our beloved pets. They soothe us with their predictability and unconditional love, and they consistently give in excess of what they receive.”

Loving our pets does not make them more important than humans, nor does it “replace” our ability to tend to the needy. Rather, opening our homes and our hearts to animals makes our own humanity more accessible. Temple Grandin got it just right when she titled her newest book, “Animals Make Us Human.” Our love of animals doesn’t fill up our hearts- it makes our hearts grow bigger.

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay

Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –

The Third National Dog Blog Carnival – The Human-Animal Bond

June 5, 2009
 
You’ll find Speaking for Spot among the participants in the Third National Dog Blog Carnival highlighting the human-animal bond. Participants include noted authors, behaviorists, vets, trainers, and artists.

You can read my contribution as well as those of the other participants on the host site.

Dr. Nancy Kay

Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. SPEAKING FOR SPOT is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –

A Father’s Pride

December 9, 2008

My 84-year-old father lives in Denver, Colorado. He is trying to recreate some semblance of normalcy following the unanticipated loss of my mom in June- his wife of 57 years. He recently had cataract surgery that, thankfully, has allowed him to read again. He surprised me at work the other day with a telephone call. He wanted to let me know that he had been reading Speaking for Spot.

I must tell you- I was rather flabbergasted! My dad has never had any real interest in dogs or, for that matter, animals of any kind. In fact, he doesn’t really “get” the human animal bond. He was a great dad, but he never understood what my passion about animals was all about. When I was ready to make the drive from Colorado to Ithaca, New York where I was about to begin veterinary school, my dad’s parting words were, “Are you sure you don’t want to go to medical school?” Just imagine my surprise when he told me he was reading Spot. When I asked him why, he explained, “Since my daughter wrote it, I thought I ought to read it.” Needless to say, I was simply thrilled! I asked, “So Dad, what do you think of it.” I laughed out loud when he responded, “To tell you the truth, I’m finding it a bit monotonous.”