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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.