When I was about six years old, my parents brought home a puppy for my brother and me. He was a mutt, which is now commonly known as a “designer dog.” He was part Shepherd, Collie and Beagle. He was the cutest thing. I remember as if it were yesterday; the crate, or cardboard box full of newspapers, was put in the laundry room in our basement. We named the little guy Coco, though, I can’t remember why. Let me call my dad and ask him…
His first response was “I think we named him Coco because it was Poppi Sam’s middle name, Samuel Coco Hoffrichter.” Then he said that my mom named him after his color. He said her sister had a Dachshund named Rusty and that my mom thought that dogs should be named a color- I just think my mom really liked chocolate.
On the other side of town, my cousin Debbie’s family was adopting Coco’s brother. I think they got him later that same week; they named him Caesar. We had a cousin dog rivalry. They thought Caesar was cuter and smarter than our Coco, but that just wasn’t true. Up to this day, at family dinners we try to recruit new members into the Team Coco or Team Caesar debate. Both dogs were a huge part of our lives. Our families were close and we were always around each other’s homes and pets.
I think your first pet is always your first love. Coco went everywhere with us. We played with him at the creek, he walked my brother home from Pollack School (I think this was an urban myth, but my mom swore it was true) and he waited at the window for my dad to come home every night. The curtains were pulled to the side where he would sit, wagging his tail, minutes before my dad, Sonny, would show up in the driveway. Coco knew before we did that Dad was home.
So what does this story have to do with Penn Vet? Well, when Coco was around 10, he jumped out of our car in front of my dad’s business. My mom was picking my dad up from work, and we think he saw another dog. He jumped out of the car window into the street and a truck hit him. He was thrown 15 feet. The truck driver never stopped and my mom was in hysterics. My parents wrapped him in blankets and rushed him to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital. No other thought crossed our minds. Coco was admitted and stayed the night. They took tremendous care of him and, two days later, he was back at our house mending. Coco lived a happy 5 more years after that incident.
That’s one of the reasons why we chose Penn Vet as the recipient of the Black and White Ball 2012 (with a Touch of Fur): simply put, they are the best. They have the best teachers, and the students that attend the school are there for more than just the education; they are there for their strong love of the animals. Their research and commitment to the animal world is very obvious when you go behind the doors of the waiting room.
I have taken a tour of the facility many times with different sponsors who wanted to see what they were getting behind. Each time was a little different, with different animals being treated. But each time I was at the facility, we were toured with the same level of enthusiasm. The doctors that we met stopped to talk about what they do, and we saw students taking care of animals who needed special attention. We saw a mastiff getting an operation as students watched and three doctors sitting around a mini Dachshund discussing his recovery. That’s another reason why we chose Penn Vet: their enthusiasm for veterinary medicine is unwavering.
When I first started my career in Philly, I worked on Penn’s campus (well, close enough at 38th and Lancaster). I met a lot of Penn Vet students and teachers. Many became (and still are) my clients. I guess you could say that, in some ways, during those early days at Powelton, Penn Vet helped to support me. And I’m very committed to loyalty. My veterinarian, Dr. Erikson, who has taken care of my dogs for the past 15 years, went to Penn Vet. My dear friend, Dr. Dave Diefendorfer, who is a great veterinarian, was also a teacher at Penn.
So why Penn? For all those things…
Photo courtesy of Penn Vet