04 January 2008

Tribute to the Dog Who Changed a Person Changing the World

Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Overall is like the Jane Goodall of the pet world. Overall speaks around the world, influencing thousands of veterinarians, veterinary nurses, technicians, and dog trainers. She's even swayed the U.S. military to think differently about dog training. Her book "Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals" is a bible for vets and behavior consultants. When asked who motivated Overall first, she simply replied, "Flash", one of her beloved dogs.

Flash recently passed away on December 8, 2007. He helped change Karen Overall - who is now changing the world. Flash survived 4 homes, 3 shelters, and abuse that included hanging from a choke chain until he passed out. In addition to the broken hyoid bones he suffered when hung, he had a wing of a spinal vertebra sheared off, and 2 healed broken ribs. As her patient, Dr. Overall knew that she needed to make the choice to either put him to sleep or bring him home. After looking Flash in his eyes she knew what he wanted and what she had to do - give him a loving home. He lived with Overall and her family for 10 years and 7 months.

Flash helped touch the lives of thousands of veterinarians and pets with his story and lessons of overcoming pain and abuse. Dr. Overall's clients were given hope after seeing his video, meeting him, or working with him. According to Overall, Flash "carried the notions of calm and recovery with him everywhere he went."

Last October, Flash was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma and struggled through repeated bleeds and transfusions, especially during the last week of his life. Even after Flash became ill, he never stopped visiting dogs at the veterinary specialty hospitals. He was kind and gentle with other dogs, licking them and leaning against them. When Flash first went to live with Overall, she had promised him that he would one day die at home with his family. And he did.

Flash helped change Dr. Overall's way of thinking, practice of medicine, and also helped to expand her ability to be compassionate. He redefined the way she approached the specialty of behavioral medicine. His professional behavior mod video will be out in 2008, and Overall will also be writing a book about what she learned from him.

Flash's story is one of a remarkable, lovable, intelligent dog that will never be forgotten. His love, generosity, and determination to live the very best life he could has influenced and changed a great person who is now changing the world.

[Source: Steve Dale's Pet World]