It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the “walks on water” legend got started. But it’s very easy to figure out why. Dennis is one of those individuals who should probably be cloned. Kind, caring, and compassionate, are but a few attributes. He’s also a good teacher and mentor, which makes it so much easier for his clients to take better care of their animals. Stories about Dennis’ generosity and commitment to animals are legendary. This is a person who consistently goes beyond beyond and then says, “Well, anybody would have done at least that.”
When he revealed that in vet school at Iowa State, he was the first student to petition the dean for permission to allow his “surgery dog” to “survive” and be taken home, we were surprised only that the dean let him do it. In the 1970s, practice animals in vet schools were routinely “sacrificed” at the end of the course, and successful student intervention was rare and not at all encouraged.
You can tell immediately that Dennis enjoys being a veterinarian and actually likes animals by the way he calmly handles them and by his reassuring table-side manner. He’s also willing to try new treatments and is able to sustain hope until it’s time to talk about quality of life issues.
Since 1992, the Clinic has cheerfully provided free “room & board” for JCHS animals waiting for space to open up in a foster home. Over the years, the number of animals-in-residence at the Clinic has ranged between five and seven on any given day. In addition to room & board (and wall space in the waiting room for photos of our animals available for adoption), the clinic also provides a substantial discount on veterinary care, food, and supplies for JCHS animals in fostercare.
Dr. Cowles (with Dr. Cooper from the UI) volunteers on our behalf with the state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship as a “foster home inspector.” This led to the conversion of our fostercare activities to Iowa’s first state-licensed fostercare program. Our pilot program resulted in a permanent provision in the Iowa Code, legalizing in-home fostercare of companion animals.