March 19, 2018
In this issue

Professional heroes

Before I had four children, before I had my wife Sarah, I had Vegas.

In January 2004, Vegas was the only midsize dog available at the Franklin County, Ohio animal shelter. She was a mutt, appearing like a cross between a black labrador and a chow, shrunk down to 25 pounds. I named her after my favorite Elvis Presley song.

Halfway through our two-hour ride home, Vegas decided she wanted to ride on my lap. Since then, she was always by my side. When I moved to Florida, she was there, loving the beach and hating hot weather. After Sarah moved in, we relocated to Massachusetts and grew to a family of four children and three dogs, Vegas remained the patient and loving one.

Five years ago, after she was diagnosed with diabetes, my entire life schedule revolved around giving her injections of insulin every 12 hours.

The morning of March 8, Vegas had a seizure. I helplessly petted her as her tongue flopped around and she peed on herself. At the veterinarian's office, the doctor – Andrew Hersman – determined the seizure came not from her diabetes, but likely a brain tumor. Hersman offered a variety of diagnostic and treatment options, but it probably wouldn't matter. The seizure had left Vegas completely blind and with significant brain damage.

I spent the next hour in the patient room trying to wrap my head around everything, comforting my dog, futily attempting to get Vegas to walk or see, calling Sarah, and considering a future without Vegas. When Hersman came back in and I started rambling, he looked me straight in the eye and said, "If she were my dog, I would put her down."

That clarity gave me the strength to finally say goodbye to my dog.

In the business world, when we talk about keeping it professional, it usually centers around little things: dress appropriately, show up on time, don't harass your employees. Yet, in office professions like mine, we rarely deal with raw emotions. I can barely imagine Hersman going throughout his workday: meeting with new pet owners, eating his lunch, giving vaccinations, and delivering devastating news authoritatively and compassionately. I have to tell marketing people their press releases aren't going to publish; Hersman has to tell people their companions are going to die. Both of us are professionals, but only one of us is heroic.

- Brad Kane, editor


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