Stephen J. Birchard DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Their Tails Kept Wagging: Pets Show Us How Hope, Forgiveness, and Love Prevail (by Dr. Stephen Birchard)


The Veterinary Key Points blog frequently uses the medical stories of dogs and cats to help illustrate the surgical illness or injury being discussed. Hershey had infected wounds on her back and rear legs that required skin reconstruction, Josie was shot with an arrow through her heart, car trauma ruptured the trachea in Tigger, and Jack developed a large hard palate tumor that we repaired with cartilage from his ear. 


These stories and others like them are the focus of a book I’ve written entitled: Their Tails Kept Wagging: Pets Show Us How Hope, Forgiveness, and Love Prevail. In it, we go beyond the pet’s medical ordeal and recognize their courage and incredible will to live. Despite poor odds of survival, their “tails kept wagging,” telling us that they refused to give up. I openly discuss the emotional ups and downs that my staff and I experienced as the animals fought their way through critical illness. The veterinarian/patient bond, a rarely discussed aspect of clinical practice, is a genuine part of daily life as a vet and affects us in profound ways. I try to bring that aspect of veterinary practice to the surface in the book. 


The book is written for the general public, but I invite you to read it because I believe the stories will also resonate with vets and their staff. For more information about the book, go to:

Their Tails Kept Wagging


I would love to hear your thoughts about the animals in this book and their tales of survival. What patient stories can you share, and how did their fight for life transform you as a doctor and person?

Stephen’s quotes

"For life is a seamless web. It connects us not merely with one another, but with all that is sentient; with all that shares its miracle of birth and feeling and death."— Abe Fortas

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