Death of Lorie Huston, Veterinarian, Animal Advocate and Every Day Hero
When Lorie Huston died suddenly yesterday, the world lost an accomplished veterinarian, journalist and president of the CWA (Cat Writers’ Association), I lost a friend and confidant. We never know when we see someone if it will the last time. The last time I saw Lorie was at the Blogpaws conference in May. We enjoyed a private lunch on the patio. The hot Vegas sun beat down but Lorie didn’t complain. Not about the blinding sun, the molasses slow waiter or the soggy fries. She wasn’t that kind. She exuded a stoic, Mid-Westerner calm. We were polar opposites in many ways but we shared a big-hearted passion for pets. Lorie kept much of her life private but we loved to gab at length on the phone just about every week.
Not once did she ever say anything negative about anyone and preferred to give the benefit of the doubt. Modest, down-to-earth and self-effacing, there was something old school, even naive about her desire to see the best in people and situations. Her eternal optimism and big heart propelled her to quietly do good without ego or the flash of a celebrity vet or expert. Animals were her #1 love and their every day hero. She worked at a clinic in Providence, Rhode Island where all of her six cats were adopted from. In 2014, she as awarded the Winn Feline Foundation Media Appreciation Award. She was a Certified Veterinary Journalist (CVJ) and a member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists.
Her legacy will live on with a large body of work at her blog Pet Health Care Gazette, that provides accurate up-to-date information about a variety of pet health and pet care topics.
It’s hard to believe we posted a Q & A with Lorie a month ago which we’re re-posting. Who knew it would be her last interview. She was only 54 when she died of complications of liver disease. I fully expected to see her at the CWA BarkWorld/MeowWorld conference in Atlanta at the end of this month. She will be sorely missed by her many friends, clients and colleagues.
Update: Lorie Huston’s family in Omaha, Nebraska held a funeral for her on Friday, Oct.3, 2014. Four of her six cats have found new homes. Midge and Merlin are still waiting to be rehomed.
It’s so soon funeral arrangements are not completed, but it’s not too soon to find homes for her six cats. There’s Dillon, three-legged Lilly, Merlin, Midge, Rhett and Rusty. All will need to be re-homed. Please share and cross-post. For contact info, please email Dusty Rainbolt, CWA Vice-President at [email protected]
Rest in peace and fly with the angels dearest Lorie.
Q & A with Veterinarian Dr. Lorie Huston
LMW: You grew up in Nebraska, where farmers understand and accept the cycles of life and death. What were your earliest experiences with animals and when and why did you decide to become a veterinarian?
LH: Though I did grow up in Nebraska, I grew up in the city, not on a farm. My earliest experiences with animals was with our family pets, Pepper (the family dog) and Tubby and Midge (the two family cats.) I knew from an early age that I wanted to become a veterinarian. Though I briefly considered other careers, I never really waivered very much in that desire. And I have no regrets now about my decision. I love being a veterinarian.
LMW: In what way did these early experiences prepare you for the reality of veterinary college?
LH: The thing that really prepared me for the reality of becoming a veterinarian was spending time in a veterinary hospital, watching what was done and how.
LMW: What advice would you give a child thinking they might want to be a vet?
LH: Concentrate on your school work and make sure you get good grades. Veterinary school requires a strong science background.
LMW: What are the biggest changes in veterinary medicine you’ve experienced since launching your career?
LH: There are constantly changes in the field. Since I started practicing, we have re-evaluated vaccination protocols and procedures. We now have much more sophisticated diagnostic and treatment options for many diseases as well. Perhaps one of the biggest shifts in the profession has been toward the active promotion of regular wellness care for all pets.
LMW: There are more women entering the field since you were a student. What kind of gender gap did you experience in veterinary college? Have you experienced gender discrimination?
LH:My veterinary class was approximately ½ women, I think. Now, many graduating veterinary classes are predominantly women, from what I understand. I can’t say that I ever felt any real gender discrimination in my career. That’s not to say that it didn’t exist previously or might not exist even now, just that I’ve been lucky enough not encounter it. I should add though that I’ve never had children so never had reason to ask for maternity leave or child care. I’m not sure if that would have made a difference or not.
LMW: Have you noticed differences working in the Midwest vs. the East Coast (where you now practice) in terms of types of issues seen or attitudes of clients?
LH: Not really. I think pet owners tend to view their pets in a similar manner no matter where they are located.
LMW: Statistically, cats receive less frequent vets visits than dogs. Why is that in your opinion and what do you recommend to improve those stats for cats?
LM: That’s very true and there are many contributing factors. There are also many different ways to go about improving those statistics. But those answers are much too lengthy to go into here.
LMW: What are your favorite and least favorite things about being a vet?
LH: My favorite part of being a veterinarian is being able to help a pet owner keep his/her pet healthy and happy. My least favorite is when it comes time to say goodbye to a pet.
LMW: Tell us about your own pets and/or clinic pets. Do your pets at home react to “clinic scent”. Other than washing your hands when you get home, what do you recommend pet parents do after touching pets outside the home?
LH: I live with six cats. They were all rescue pets presented to the hospital where I work. In terms of keeping your own pets healthy if you handle pets outside the home, I would advise keeping your pets up-to-date on vaccines and taking active measures to prevent parasites (both external and internal). Routine hygienic measures (such as washing your hands, as you mentioned) are also critical.
LMW: Vets are notorious for being large-hearted and tend to have numerous pets. What’s your personal limit and how do you stick to it?
LH: My personal limit is the six cats I currently have. That’s primarily because we successfully use Feliway currently to keep inter-cat tensions under control. But I think if any others were added, it would be too many for the size of my home and we would start running into behavioral/territorial issues.
Although I didn’t know Dr. Lorie personally, I admired her and her work so very much. I just learned of her passing today. It is a devastating loss to the community of cat lovers. Lorie leaves behind a hole that may never be filled, but her work and love of cats remains as her legacy.
Layla, I know how much you cared for her, and I’m sorry for your loss and for the loss of all who knew her well and loved her.
Layla Morgan Wilde
Franny, thanks so much for your kind words.
Layla I missed this when you first posted so thank you for re-sharing this link. I know you adored Lorie (as did I and many others), all that you stated is soooo true! I can only imagine how hard it has to be because you weren’t at home to be able to grieve in the way that I know you will upon your return. Sending you (((hugs))) love and comfort.
Skeeter and Izzy
I am so sorry for this great loss. We missed seeing this the other day. We purr and pray for her family,friends and her babies. We hope that they find great homes together. We know without doubt that she will be greatly missed by many. You are so right about the not knowing and that is why we must always say I love you and be kind to all.
Luvs and purrs of comfort
Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig & Peanut & Romeo >^..^<
This is tragic, as Oui Oui’s mom, Paula, mentioned, we shared a great conversation with Lorie across the country, then a cab to the hotel and then attended her lunchtime break-out group. She was truly a remarkable person…so genuine, open and caring. This is a tragic loss.
Deb Barnes - Zee and Zoey
We all have a story and memory about Lorie – she truly was beloved by all. This is so shocking, so hard to process, and she will be missed so very much.
So sad for you and the kitty world. My youngest daughter lives in Providence. I forwarded her the post. She had met Dr. Lorie at her vet office. Said how sad her loss was; that she was a great champion for kitties. Thoughts and prayers….
I am shocked and saddened! Lorie, Mom Janet from The Cat on My Head and I sat in the plane chatting as we crossed the country to Blogpaws in May and I feel as though I have lost a friend! My deepest condolences to all her family and loved ones, and to all the animal and cat lovers who benefited from her skill and kindness. What an amazing woman she was!
That is shocking and so very, very sad.
So very sad. She seemed like such a nice lady and was always kind on the few times I was able to speak with her. The kitties have lost a great advocate.
Sometimes Cats Herd You
Layla, you’re the one who introduced me to Lorie at BlogPaws this year. I’m saddened by this news and extend my condolences to you and all of the rest of the community who knew and loved her so well.
Layla Morgan Wilde
I remember. It feels like yesterday. Thanks so much.
Almost everyone I read knew her personally, so I’m very sad for your loss. You are such a close group.
I only enjoyed her articles and loved her cats, from their pictures.Still I cry, for such a great loss, Lori always made me feel welcome.
Layla Morgan Wilde
Thanks Connie Marie, Lorie will be missed by many.
I didn’t know her but heard that she was very ill from Caren at Cat Chat yesterday. I’m so sorry she passed away as I know so many of you thought the world of her and her work. I’ll say a prayer for her family and all of you who were her friends – she certainly contributed a great deal to every aspect of her full life………….
Condolences and hugs,
I met Lorie briefly in May, and her love for animals was evident as she spoke. I’m sorry to her of her passing – she will be missed near and far. We’ll be keeping all our paws crossed that her cats find extra special and loving homes.
My human adored Lorie for all the same reasons you did, and she is heartbroken. Lorie was a very rare human and set such an example for everyone else. She really left a great legacy, and now a great hole in the world of CWA, veterinary journalism, and friendships.
Glogirly and Katie
I was shocked and saddened to hear the news. I will always remember her calm and compassionate way… with every word she spoke, you could tell how very much she cared. Not only about animals, but about people too. Lorie will be deeply missed. And never forgotten.
Sending love and prayers Kayla
Dr. Lorie was the epitome of true friendship. Never a harsh word about anyone. A soothing approach to life. Willing to listen and help, no matter what. I feel that the entire world is less bright with her gone. Certainly, the pet community has a hole ripped in its very soul.
Layla Morgan Wilde
Yvonne, thanks so much for stopping by with your condolences. I miss her very much.