Big 10: Unforgettable animal encounters | Pets


Today marking the return of UI Vet Med’s in-person open house, we asked this week’s panel to share their most unforgettable animal experience, be it a pet, d ‘a patient or a partner.

Officer Alex Tran and his loyal sidekick, Lollipop.


Lollipop’s partner in the University of Illinois Police Department

“Lollipop is one of the four K9 therapies of the UIPD. We have been partners since December 2020.

“Over the past 10 months, we have responded to countless tragedies, heartbreaking moments, but just as many, if not more, heartwarming events. Many of which the local media have covered.

“The most memorable and loving events happened at 9 am on a Saturday. I was awakened by a phone call from my sergeant. He said there was a subject with a knife to his throat threatening to kill himself. Despite all this, the Urbana officers there who spoke to him discovered that this man liked dogs.

“So Lollipop and I went to the scene to help where we could. In approaching this, I was thinking about ways to resolve this issue as a crisis negotiator. When I arrived, before I could put Lollipop’s leash on, one of the officers there told me I could approach and the scene was completely safe.

“I was confused. I later learned that officers at the scene had said the dog had arrived and, upon hearing this news, threw down his knife, raised his hands and surrendered. He was able to stroke Lollipop for a few minutes before being taken to hospital for further help.

Gene Pavlovski

Gene Pavlovski


Medical Director, Southern IU Veterinary Clinic

“I had a cat named Bruce when I was in college. His name was Bruce because his movements reminded me of Bruce Lee.

“He was walking across the room, slowly and deliberately, then something scared him and he was bouncing in the air like he had springs strapped to his feet.”

“When he did that, in my head I would play him back later in slow motion and make sounds that I imagined Bruce Lee would make as he kicked a guy in the head. Bruce was also a football player, a goalie to be exact. He would position himself at the end of a hallway, ready to go; I was bouncing a ping pong ball and it would jump in the air and grab it or push it away, like a pro.

“We had another cat named Cleo. It was a laundry delivery cat. At night, when everything was quiet, we could hear his little howls coming from the basement and we knew what was to come.

“She trudged up the basement stairs, slipped through the cat flap, dragged laundry through – usually underwear and socks – and showed up to our room, still doing her meows, clothes in tow. She would proudly leave the object with us and fall asleep, happy that her task was done.

Dr Annette McCoy

Dr Annette McCoy


Associate Professor UI, Equine Surgery

“When I was an intern at the University of Minnesota, we had a mare that had just given birth for emergency abdominal surgery. We knew his chances weren’t good, but the owner wanted to try and save his life.

“While we were preparing this mare for surgery, one of our teaching herd mares named Shasta went into labor. The funny thing is, Shasta’s pregnancy was unplanned, but it ended up being such a blessing because when the client’s mare unfortunately ended up not having the operation, Shasta raised the filly. orphan in addition to raising her own healthy foal.

“Shasta and the two foals returned to the owner of the filly. But the story does not end there.

“After the foals were weaned, Shasta and her foal went back to college, but we didn’t know what to do with the foal since our teaching herd only consisted of mares. It turned out that a few days later I had another client who unexpectedly lost her horse due to severe lameness. She met Shasta’s foal, fell in love with him and ended up adopting him.

“I’ve always been amazed at the perfect timing of this little colt and how many lives he ended up touching.”

Alex Lourash

Alex Lourash


Manager of Natural Areas, Allerton Park

“As the days get shorter and the temperatures start to drop, I find myself in the woods quite often with my bow. This experience happened about six years ago.

“I walked into my tree stand early that morning. It was freezing cold and I dressed accordingly, with thick pants, an insulated jacket and a “Mad Bomber” hat. This style of hat has ear flaps that come down and the entire hat is trimmed with rabbit fur.

“The sun had barely glanced at the horizon when I felt a great force hit me on the top of my head, causing my chin to touch my chest. As I looked up, a barred owl landed on a branch about 10 feet in front of me at eye level, looking at me in confusion.

“He or she saw the fur on my hat and thought I was an easy meal for his or her breakfast.

“We both sat there for several minutes staring at each other before he flew off in search of his next meal.

“When I got home, my brother looked at my head. The owl must have been very determined to make me his meal because it had left three long talons marks in my scalp.

Angela Green-Miller

Angela Green-Miller with Finnigan, the family cat


UI Associate Professor co-founded TellTail Ag, whose mission is to reduce piglet mortality

“I’ve always been known as a bit of an animal whisperer, with pets, wild animals, farm animals and even research animals. Growing up, I always had pets and often helped wild creatures recover.

“One winter, I housed an injured green snake in a large garbage can in the kitchen. By spring, everything was healed and ready to be released on the farm.

“One notable experience was my first beach vacation with my husband. We were walking along the beach at night and I jokingly shouted in the dark “hey dolphins, come on.” “

“Two dolphins swam in the shallow waters of the shore and splashed and swam alongside us for most of our ride.”

Dr Mary Welle Strang

Dr Mary Welle Strang


Veterinarian / Owner, All Creatures Animal Hospital d’Urbana

“After more than 30 years in veterinary medicine, the most common questions people ask me are about the life expectancy of pets. At All Creatures Animal Hospital, it depends on the patient.

“Our small mammals – hamsters, mice, gerbils – are seniors at 2 years old. We have also cared for parrots in their fifties, which have been passed down through families for generations.

“The average dog life expectancy is 12 to 14 years, with smaller dogs living longer. Giant breeds – Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs – often show their age from 8 to 10 years old. The oldest dogs I worked with were a few Yorkies who turned 19 and 20. Cats are on average between 13 and 16 years old, but there are exceptional cases.

“I met my oldest cat when I was a vet student at U of I. ‘Baby’ was a skinny little Tortie with a somewhat unkempt coat and a fiery demeanor. She had a fairly normal exam, with the exception of some dental problems and possibly arthritis.

“We updated her annual shots and the owner asked if there was anything more they should be doing for her. Looking at his medical records, I realized that his year of birth was the same as Mine.

“When I was 23, I told the owners, ‘Don’t change a thing.’ “

Dr Tegan Stoerger

Dr Tegan Stoerger


Chief of Staff, Traversée Veterinary Hospital, Champaign

“We always joke in Vet Med that Labrador Retrievers will eat anything and everything. Well, that certainly held true early in my career, as one of my favorite patients – a black lab over 100 pounds – ate half a landscape brick.

“Fortunately, I was able to recover the brick through surgery and the dog behaved very well. But unfortunately for the owner, he was back four months later for eating two large chunks of asphalt. Once again, successful operation and happy dog.

“Needless to say, I will never forget this patient.”

Stephanie Bloc

Stephanie Bloc


Co-owner, Sundrop Alpacas of Bement

“One of our most memorable moments was when we attended the Railsplitter Alpaca Show in Springfield.

“The kids decided that this year they really enjoy working with alpacas. They had a favorite alpaca called Calypso and wanted to walk it around the show arena, unattended. We gave them permission and they left.

“After a while we realized that the kids and the alpaca were long gone. A very A long time. We started looking and found them pretty quickly.

“It appears that a famous artist, artist Nicolosi, spotted the children and their fluffy alpaca and invited them for a photoshoot.”

Marie Auth

Marie Auth


International feline show judge based in Champaign

“The world is indeed full of animals and I had the opportunity to meet elephants in Tanzania, giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands, exotic birds in Malaysia and kangaroos in Australia.

“But my most memorable encounter has much more to do with the trips associated with animals and friends that you make around the world because of a common passion.

“As the International All Breed Cat Show Judge for the Cat Fanciers Association, I have the privilege of traveling the world on someone else’s nickel – all to assess and rank pedigreed cats ( and not pedigreed).

“In April 2010, I was in Maribor, Slovenia, to judge a show. From there I was to travel to Estonia for a show the following weekend. I was traveling with a fellow judge and we decided to go to Budapest for a few days for the intervening week. When we returned to Maribor on our way to Estonia, we learned that a volcanic eruption in Iceland was closing most European airports. With a few quick plane ticket maneuvers, we arrived in Zurich and were waiting to fly to Warsaw to change flights to Tallinn, Estonia.

“Despite the passage through Zurich airport, we did not make it until Zurich airport closed. We were stuck.

“However, because we have cat friends all over the world, we contacted another cat lover in Zurich who drove us to France where we were picked up by a friend in Germany who brought us near the ‘Frankfurt airport – a few hotel stays along the way. I spent three days in the hotel until an American flight arrived and was able to secure a seat on the plane. colleague judge got out of a United flight earlier.

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