Partner died a number of years ago. If you asked me when, I would have said it was a few years ago. I looked it up; he died in 2004. It seems like I was just in an exam room with him. I think of Partner often. He was one of the good dogs. I see many wonderful patients and wonderful owners and Partner was one of the former. His dad, Jeff, was one of the latter. I took care of Partner for the majority of his life. He was a big German Shepherd that was both serious and silly. He never enjoyed coming to the vet as much as we enjoyed seeing him.
We saw Partner a lot during the later three quarters of his life that we knew him. He was prone to skin infections and allergies. His skin maladies are common to Shepherds and he took frequent antibiotics to control Staph infections in his skin. He was also very arthritic in his later years. We saw him often for Adequan injections for his joints and he took medication for arthritis and pain. All of this meant that Jeff and Partner knew their veterinarian well.
Jeff’s daughter called the other day to let me know that Jeff had died. Jeff was an older man when I met him 17 years ago so I know he had a long life. To his vet, it certainly seemed to be a happy life as well. When I met Jeff in the 1990’s, I noticed his address was familiar. His house was 5 houses from the one I grew up in. I had been the paper boy for our block when I was a kid. I remember riding by his house on my bike. He, however, didn't subscribe to the paper. I did, eventually, try to forgive him for the slight. Jeff and I used to talk about “the hood” all the time. He would tell me the latest. I would ask about the cast of characters from my time there. We would reminisce about the old lady that still had her picture window boarded across with plywood and the people that had moved away. He was bright and funny and had a joyful way about him. He and Partner were indeed partners in life. They had one of those special bonds that are a pleasure to watch and fulfilling to experience. They are what makes veterinary medicine the grand profession it is and the two of them were the type of creatures that motivated James Herriot to put pen to paper.
I had seen Jeff many times in the years since he lost Partner. He also had a cat. It was never as often but when he was in we spoke frequently of Partner. I think he was the one Jeff never really got over. I saw Jeff’s own deterioration over the years and watched his memory lapse. In recent years, his daughter would bring him to the clinic.
So long guys. I said goodbye to Partner years ago but now it is goodbye to Jeff as well. I trust you are walking together again. I’m sure Partner's skin is healed and his hips move freely. I trust also that Jeff is no longer forgetful nor lonely for his friend. Thanks for stepping into my exam room. The planet is a better place because you walked on it.