I am thankful for Joy's medical issues.

Joy has chicken and seasonal allergies.

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I am not afraid to dive into an eight week food trial with a client, or to use weeks after to pinpoint an allergen. Because of Joy, I have successfully brought several patients through the process and to comfort by avoiding the food or foods to which they are allergic.

I don't think an entire year of pattern watching is too long to figure out seasonal allergies.

I too hate seeing my dog miserable. Itchiness truly can be worse than pain. When I tell you that, know that I understand.

Joy has hypothyroidism.

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She was overweight. Her coat was a mess. I understand how easy it is to miss gradual changes when you see your pet every day.

Joy injured her cruciate ligament and needed surgery.

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I understand the financial stress. Dr. Merkley showed no financial mercy, but he took amazing care of our dog, so I'm good.

I understand how major this is.

I understand how difficult resting your dog for 6-8 weeks is. Many times, Joy would run past us with her leash we were supposed to be holding flying behind her.

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When you say you cannot watch your pet receive an injection, I remember being in the middle of Joy's surgery with Dr. Merkley and needing to stare at the clock across two rooms so I did not black out.

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We expected our mutt-mix-Heinz 57 dog to be the healthiest thing ever. However, because of her medical issues, I have grown as a veterinarian and pet parent. My empathy has been stretched to encompass a little bit more than it had, and that is always a good thing.

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