On this Valentine’s Day I have a special idea in mind. Here's some background in advance...


While in veterinary school, my class was lucky enough to enter clinics (late third year and all of fourth year) with a veterinary social worker's omnipresence as part of the curriculum. 


As a group, my class (as many before it, I’m sure) entered clinics considering this ageless woman a tad creepy for her almost-smarmy social worker-speak and her eery ability to sniff out any sign of impending death. And yet I believe we all graduated having learned to cry for our patients, have compassion for our clients and love our own pets a little better...because of her.


One characteristically Kathleen moment was when my first patient died. (Here’s the whole story.) I was crying so hard I couldn’t catch my breath...and there she was, strangely helpful in an off-the beaten part of the hospital. How did she know I was there? How did she manage to say just the right things? 


I learned so much from this woman. Sure, she might have been just a tad off her rocker...but aren’t the most sensitive among us? 


With that in mind, here’s another characteristically Kathleen moment. It was perhaps our first interaction with her...and it’s one I’m sure all vet students who passed through clinics under her watch remember well.


It’s a simple exercise, one designed to put you in touch with what your pets mean to you...and by extension, to remind us to have compassion for our clients in their most challenging veterinary moments:


Make a list of all your beloved pets, present and past. Next to each name, try to list every term of endearment and nickname you can recall ever having used to refer to these loved ones.


On this Valentine’s Day, I can think of no better way to celebrate than to post your own answers to this exercise. Think of it as a love letter your pets will understand. Sappy, yes, but oh so sweet...