I have been thinking about starting up a blog for a long time now. I had visions of it being a place where I would give insight about being an emergency veterinarian and provide information on pet loss and grief counseling. And while this is still my intention, I realized that I want to do something bigger than that. I want to resonate with everyone – not just veterinarians. I want to impart “the VEG way” (further explanation later) to the world.
Before getting ready for Christmas dinner with my family tonight, I decided to go for a quick run. This was a decision made entirely in vain, because I knew that my knee wasn’t ready for it yet. But I just wanted to feel the endorphins. I wanted to feel some speed. And of course within 1 mile, my knee began pulsating with pain. Then the rain started. So I cut back home on a different route and moved as quickly as I could.
Frustrated, I trudged across Speer and back towards my apartment. As I walked past a building on Delaware street, I heard a woman whisper “help” in a feeble voice. My first instinct was to ignore it – I live in a neighborhood with a LOT of homeless people, and they are typically whacked out on drugs and yelling obscenities at me. But something told me that this woman truly needed my help. So I turned around and approached her.
She was curled into a ball, lachrymose and lonely. She was middle aged, blonde, barefoot and wearing nothing but pajama pants and a raggedy T shirt with kittens on it. Her name was Courtney, but she said her friends call her “Ney.” I knelt down next to her and asked if I could call someone for her. I never take my phone with me when I run, but I told her I could go home and come back with a phone. She said she didn’t have anyone to call. I offered to take her to a shelter; she said she wasn’t homeless. I offered to bring her food; she said she could provide her own food. So finally I said “what can I do to help you?” And her only response was “I just want to pet your dogs.”
So I sat there with her for a bit and let her pet Maddie and Finn. They licked her face and wagged their tails and brought a huge smile to her face. It clearly brightened her day, but I still couldn’t leave her sitting there with practically no clothes and in the freezing rain. Especially on Christmas. So I asked her where she needed to go, and she gave me an address in the Denver Tech Center. I told her to wait where she was, and got back to my apartment as quickly as I could. I ordered a Lyft, and right when I matched with a driver I called him to explain the situation. His name was Adam, and he was completely on board with helping Courtney get home. He called me once she was in the car with him. Courtney was barely comprehensible through her tears, but I could hear her saying “thank you, thank you, God bless you, Merry Christmas” over and over again. I gave Adam a generous tip, and Courtney got home safely.
As I sit here and reflect on this moment, I realized that my new company has affected me in ways that I didn’t even realize were possible. My first instinct was to get on the ground with this woman, to put myself at her level – which is one of our core values at VEG (we will always sit on the ground with your pet). I went out of my way to figure out how to help this woman, to figure out how to say YES (another of our core values – we always find a way to say yes). This was truly a “WWBD” moment – What Would Bessler Do? I am so humbled by our CEO Dr. David Bessler’s incredible generosity. He has a vision to make the veterinary emergency world a better place, and while he may not realize it quite yet, his vision extends FAR beyond veterinary medicine. It radiated its way into Courtney’s life tonight. It got her home on Christmas.
In a different world, I would’ve returned home with a bitter attitude because my knee hurts again. I would’ve shown up at my family dinner grumpy and beat down. But it became clear to me tonight that my knee hurt for a reason. If I had been able to go on my normal route, I wouldn’t have found Courtney. We are all guided to our purpose in life, and although it may mean that one thing didn’t go our way, everything gets worked out in the end. Trust in God, or your gut, or the universe, or whatever higher power speaks to you. But you have to be willing to listen. And when you do, opportunity arises that fulfills you in ways you never thought possible.
I have nothing but gratitude and a full heart tonight. There are so many people who came into my life in 2019 and gave me an entirely new perspective. You know who you are – and I am infinitely grateful for all of you. I never want to take a single moment for granted again. I want to seize every opportunity to spread love and joy throughout my life. I invite you to do the same. Pause. Listen. Look for the opportunity to bring joy to others. You won’t regret it.