Companions Through Good Times and Bad, How Can We Ever Thank Our Pets Enough?

For so many of us, our pets have been our constant companions this past year. We’ve turned to them for comfort and company, solace and sympathy.

Pomeranian Bear Geier
Bear, a 12-year-old Pomeranian, visits UW Veterinary Care.

Judy Geier, a longtime client of UW Veterinary Care, knows firsthand how isolation during the pandemic can take a toll. “Nobody has been in my house the whole time except for my daughter,” Geier shared when reflecting on her past year. But Bear, her 12-year-old handful-of-love Pomeranian, was her savior.

Geier had a doubly hard year, with her beloved dog Foxy passing away, but she took comfort in Bear’s company. “He does everything with me,” she says. “And when we are home, he loves to look out the window. He’s so calm and peaceful.”

But Bear, too, went through a rough patch with a cough that wouldn’t go away. “The school is an hour away, but it is worth the drive. I took him in to be seen and we were able to get him back to his normal self,” Geier reports with a sigh of relief.

“Everyone at the hospital is like my second family – all of them. That’s just the way it is! I look forward to getting back to normal when I can hug everyone again,” she adds.

Our pets have also motivated us amidst the pandemic – helping us to keep moving through the daily routines with a sense of gratitude. Or should we say catitude? That’s the way Jan Schowengerdt sees it.

Jan Schowengerdt and her cat Sasquatch
Jan Schowengerdt and Sasquatch.

Sasquatch was not like any other cat that I’ve ever had,” she recalls fondly. His uniqueness starts with his name, inspired by the feline’s big feet – and big personality to match.

Schowengerdt’s companionship with Sasquatch began in 2006 when she adopted him from the local humane society. Sadly, Sasquatch passed this spring at the age of 17. While she misses her companion dearly, Schowengerdt is grateful to have been able to spend her days by his side while working from home throughout the pandemic.

“This year has had a strange silver lining in that I had more time to be with him,” Schowengerdt says – and more time to spoil him. “I had 12 beds for him spread out around the house. He’d follow the sun throughout the day. I also put hot water bottles in there for him too.”

Give Thanks for Pets
Please consider thanking the pets in your life with a gift during Pet Week, May 2-8. Give today. Your gift will have a direct and positive impact on the quality of care we provide and for those who work daily to uphold our teaching and life-saving mission.

Show us how you thank your pet(s) – be it a special treat, a Kong full of peanut butter, a new toy, a car ride or a long walk in the woods. You get the picture! Tag us (@uwvetmed) or use the hashtag #GiveThanksForPets on social media, or upload a photo directly to our Pet Week gallery at vetmed.wisc.edu/petweek.

Over the decades, Sasquatch had many complicated health conditions, ranging from epilepsy to cancer to chronic kidney disease, but tending to these illnesses was part of their story together. Through the specialized care received at UW Veterinary Care, Schowengerdt is confident she earned more years with Sasquatch.

Having more time together in Sasquatch’s final months brought both of them joy. It provided a chance to leash train Sasquatch, allowing the two to take walks to the local coffee shop to get donuts and a morning brew. “And car rides – he was such a good traveler for a cat!” Schowengerdt says with a smile.

Through it all, Schowengerdt learned that grief and gratitude are not mutually exclusive.

“He had an amazing life and I did my best,” she says. “I am grateful for all of it. He left a big footprint in my heart … and for that I can’t thank him enough.”

Denise Garlow


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