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What Happens “Backstage” at the Animal Hospital?

May 20, 2015

Staff at Waterway Animal Hospital

My sister Pert and Dr. Kathy own Waterway Animal Hospital in Little River, South Carolina, near Myrtle Beach. On our recent visit to Sunset Beach, we were delighted to get the backroom tour of the hospital.

I’m sure Waterway Animal Hospital is not alone in being a wonderful veterinary hospital full of staff who all love animals. Some are able to work magic. Pert told of one dog brought in, a Rottweiler, whose owners cautioned he would need three technicians to hold him down during a nail trim. One of their technicians said she preferred to try him alone, as less restrained is always better. Whatever she whispered to that powerful animal, or whatever sense or signal she gave off in her interaction with the dog, worked. He did not fight her and the trim was accomplished singlehandedly, much to the amazement of the owners.


I was also spellbound by a staff member carrying a little pooch around with her as she worked: going through paperwork, checking the computer, conferring with another staff member, all the while holding a cute little dog.

I thought maybe the dog was just another staff pet who sometimes accompany staff to the hospital, like Thelma and Louise, the new puppy pugs Pert and Kathy own. During the day, these young pugs happily stay in their pen in Pert’s office, and she takes them out to the hospital courtyard for fresh air, potty breaks, and tug-of-stick. I would hardly call their amicable game “war.”


Pert frequently offers the tiny treats stored in her pockets to Thelma and Louise to reward good behavior. That’s some of the magic.


Now Louise, if you want a treat, you know you have to sit down. Sit!


Good girls!

So I asked about the assistant with the pooch in her arms. “Oh no, that dog is awaiting a spay, and got a little nervous and barky. People who work in vet hospitals have to be multi-taskers” Pert explained. How very sweet and accommodating. If you ever wonder what goes on beyond the examination room at your vet’s hospital, you can hope the staff are this loving and multi-skilled!


Dr. Kathy in surgery.

Next we came to a window where we could see into the surgical suite, and Dr. Kathy was in the middle of spaying a huge dog. The dog was under anesthesia and she had her hands in the incision, but I really didn’t want to look too close. There’s a reason I never became a medical person.


Groomer at work.

It was more pleasant to watch the groomer, and then we puppy-sat Thelma and Louise in the courtyard; my mother was ready to sit down and rest awhile anyway.

Thelma has the teal collar (“I thought I could remember Thelma, and ‘T’ for teal,” explained my sister). Siblings, Louise was the runt of the litter and Pert and Kathy just couldn’t take Thelma without also adopting Louise.

Like most sibling puppies, the two play endlessly with each other, till they suddenly plop over, ready for a nap.

Oops, one of the puppy sitters seems ready for a nap, too. What a great courtyard.

Pert also takes us in a special private room which has a beautiful wallpaper garden scene on one huge wall. The lighting is dimmer, there’s a low table, with comfortable seating and a box of tissues, like a funeral home. A consult room? Wait, this is a grieving room, the special and private place for families of animals being put to sleep. A vet can do the injection right in the room with the family present, or in another room as they prefer. Dr. Kathy also makes house calls as needed when an elderly and infirm dog or cat needs to be put down at home. Not anyone’s favorite room, but a comfort to know privacy is available at this heart wrenching time.

In all, an attractive space with some beautiful, deeply dedicated animal lovers taking care of yours. And I’m sure that the workers in the vet offices we use are just as dedicated and caring, even if the space is not quite this lovely.

If you’re visiting in the Myrtle Beach area with your dog or other pet, looking for a place to retire (with your animals) or on a golf getaway and have an animal with a health crisis, definitely worth checking out!

And no, no one paid me to do this “review,” unless years of receiving sisterly love and going the second mile to help us out in various ways is pay.

I think of Pert on the farm where we grew up, and how, if you couldn’t find her anywhere, she could always be counted on to be out playing with the kitties in the barn, training for a far-in-the-future second career (after teaching for many years). Pert is a pet and people person: a perfect place for her!


Your stories about the best pet you ever had as a child? Or as an adult? Or a special vet?


My friend Susan Estep shared the story (and drawing) of her faithful companion in the Valley Living magazine I edit, here.


I must also give a shout out to a “large animal” vet I’ve never met but heard about through a small Vermont farmer, John Churchman, a friend of my husband’s when he was a kid in Bridgewater, Va. and whose farming enterprises I’ve been following on Facebook. The vet is Alison Dawson Cornwall and John often sings her praises for how she’s helped John care for their new baby lambs who likely wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t been for her middle of the night farm calls. If you like animals, sheep, and especially darling lambs, you need to know about the beautiful children’s book (and website and spin off products) John and his wife Jennifer are launching following the antics of Sweet Pea (sheep) and the “Knitting Club” and their “sheepover” party. It is just fun, fun, fun. Check out the Sweet Pea & Friends Book Series Facebook page and soon to be website. It also helps that John is an excellent photographer doing business at Brickhouse Studios.


From → Family Life, Nature

  1. What stood out here: Thelma and Louise as puppy names – ha! I also clicked on the link to your home-place and discovered I had read it before and even commented on it. 😉

    You’re fortunate an Amish family is carrying on the family tradition. So many farms with rich soil are succumbing to development.

  2. Yes, I thought of your recent blog post to on your road trip and reference to Thelma and Louise. They are perfect names for these two. Their last pugs were Lucy and Charlie Brown. You get the idea. And I know the “pet” theme leaves you out so thanks for swinging back to the farm theme. I wish I had the pic which my mother has of Pert with a puppy from long ago on the farm.

    Regarding our old farm, it is about half of its old size; they had financial issues and he was forced to sell to keep going, I believe. And yes, it is hard to see great soil turned to macadam and groomed grass, but we’ve done that too with one acre of the 7 acres we bought and built on in 2007. 😦 Price of life on our overpopulated planet?? Our “farmer” just mowed the hay yesterday on our other 6 acres, so at least that is still in production feeding his cows!

  3. Athanasia permalink

    Just curious, what is Pert’s real name? I have one sister, Petronia, and our family nicknames are Troni and Thani .

    My oldest girl is married to a large animal vet. They live next door to us in what was my
    grandmother’s house. She has milk goats and is partners with cousins in a free range chicken farm , an apiary, and a CSA. She has always wanted to be in farming.

    My family has been fortunate in always being able to keep all their acreage…we have a shared trust set up. Land that has been “sold” is not really sold, it is in lease to extended family members and they can only build on the edges along the surrounding main roads.

    • There is no logic to Pert’s real name: Linda. Her middle name is Marie. She got her name in college when friends on the field hockey team or basketball or somewhere said, “you just aren’t a Linda. You are more like a Pert.” At least that is my memory of how she got her knickname which everyone calls her now, even her mother. It did stick.

      That sounds great to have your daughter living next door. I think you mentioned that before. What a wonderful way to keep the land in use in the family. I think your approach to the land sounds Biblical, for sure! All that we have on loan from God …. 🙂 Blessings, sister.

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