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Honoring Beloved Pets and Exceptional Care

By: Susan L. Anderson, Esq. Published: Mar 10, 2017

I have been an animal lover and have owned dogs and cats my whole life.

Although 2008 was personally a very bad year for me, I came through it with a lot of help from friends and a four-month-old rescue Sheltie, who I named Tristan. He quickly stole my heart and became a piece of my soul. Every day he helped take me through my journey. Little did I know that I would need to do the same for him.

At age five, Tristan was diagnosed with oral melanoma, a disease that is normally terminal within three months. Thanks to Penn Vet Dean Joan Hendricks, with whom I served on the Board of the Philadelphia Zoo, Tristan became one of the first patients in the Penn Vet
Comprehensive Cancer Care service. By the end of his first day in the hospital, the team had mapped out our approach.

In the subsequent years, we spent many hours at Ryan Hospital. Tristan (pictured above) loved his Penn Vet team and was always happy to see them. Brenda McAndrew at the reception desk, Dr. Pascale Salah, Dr. Lili Duda, Stephanie Corsi, and especially Dr. Joe Jacovino became Tristan’s extended family and mine as well. Their compassion and care for Tristan and their empathy for me was unmatched. There could not have been a more perfect place for Tristan and I to be together as we went through this passage.

Tristan lived a good life for almost two more years, continuing to do his agility and just having fun with me and his three fur sisters: Pat, a Rough Collie, Riley, a rescue Sheltie, and Cally, a Tonkinese cat. I knew that Tristan’s time was limited, and that I had to do something to help other animals and pet parents in situations such as ours, and so I made a provision in my will for Penn Vet.

I still have Riley (she’s 10) and Cally (she’s 17), along with a new Sheltie, Kenzie (Ch. Treasure Konahan’s JP Justifiable Boy). Riley is competing in obedience and Kenzie is working on obedience and agility.

There will, of course, never be another Tristan. He is now immortalized on the new Always In My Heart pet memorial donor wall at Ryan Hospital, and I took Riley and Kenzie with me to see it for the first time. We were able to connect with several members of our clinical team on that special visit.

Now that I am retired from the practice of law, I spend most of my volunteer time working with animals. I’m the Vice President of the Women’s Humane Society (the first animal shelter in the United States), Treasurer of the Philadelphia Dog Training Club (an AKC dog training school located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania), a member of the Central Jersey Collie Club, and a former member of the Board of the Philadelphia Zoo.

Since 1967, Penn Vet alumna Lillian Giuliani, V’57, has been my pets’ veterinarian. Dr. Giuliani has been a true role model to me. We see her, as well as Dr. Curt Heyde, V’94, and Dr. Michelle Harris, V’08—the other Penn Vet graduates at Pets First Veterinary Center in Bryn Mawr.

Penn Vet will always hold a special place in my heart. Beyond my estate planning to honor Tristan’s memory, I contribute to the Annual Campaign because of Cally, Riley, and Kenzie.