Partners and Paws Summer 2021

LION at Virginia Tech by Lyd i a Po l l and

“The two biggest accomplishments I’ve had - training service dogs and being an LVT - came together in this one puppy with a little extra heart.”

I have been at Virginia Tech just over a month, and I have already hit a goal I didn’t even know I had.

I thought about how different my life would have been if I hadn’t gone on to become a Licensed Veterinary Technician. I could have been on the other side of Lion’s care, worried about his time in the hospital and how he was doing, trying to follow along with his discharge instructions. Instead, I’m aspirating his chest tubes, monitoring his blood pressure, and giving his medications. Taking care of Lion, in a very small way, made my life complete. The two biggest accomplishments I’ve had - training service dogs and being an LVT - came together in this one puppy with a little extra heart. I am SO thankful for the puppy raisers, trainers, and staff at Saint Francis Service Dogs, who constantly work behind the scenes to care for these puppies and eventually present them at no cost to their partners. I cared for Lion for a few days, but they will invest time, money, and tears for the next two years, giving him the best chance at success to change lives. Lion confirmed a lot for me. He confirmed that I love what I do, and I love where I work, but mostly that you need a good heart and there’s no place like home.

Ten years ago, I started volunteering for a service dog organization. I began by puppy sitting for a couple days or weeks and worked up to puppy raising for a year at a time. I loved my time there and thought that’s what I wanted to do with my life. Slowly, things moved in a different direction, and I started pursuing veterinary technology instead, but Saint Francis Service Dogs still gave me the best gift I could have asked for... my block-head yellow lab, Shasta, who is a career change dog from Saint Francis. Last week I came into the ICU, and I met another little yellow Saint Francis Labrador with a great purpose. Lion came to Virginia Tech for correction of a congenital heart defect. Post-op, after he ate his meal, he immediately fell asleep right next to the “Lydia, LVT” embroidered on my scrubs. Thankfully, it was a slower night, and the other technician took pity and let me sit with Lion longer than was actually necessary.

We have a long and meaningful relationship with the Virginia Tech School of Veterinary Medicine. Many of their students have completed their internships at Saint Francis, and many of our dogs have received specialized care at Tech. We are so thankful that Lion received the top-notch care that Virginia Tech always provides. That a familiar face was there with him was truly special! Thank you Virginia Tech and Lydia!


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