The concepts behind Wholistic Paws have grown over many years in response to several life changing experiences and the relationships Dr. Erwin has developed with all of her patients throughout her career. The lessons learned from these experiences and patients have greatly influenced Dr. Erwin's style of medicine and the services she wants to have available for families who need them. The following individuals are the cornerstones behind Wholistic Paws:
Jim is Dr. Erwin's dad. He was always her biggest fan and most ardent supporter for any venture throughout her whole life. He always stressed that there is a solution to every problem, to approach life with humor, and that anything could be accomplished if you were willing to work hard enough. He was very proud of her work as a veterinarian and provided her with much inspiration. His unexpected death in 2004 sent Dr. Erwin off on a journey of soul searching to try and understand and accept death as a natural ending to life. Even more importantly, to understand how beautiful it is for an individual to exit this world at a time appropriate for them. While death is difficult for all of us to comprehend and accept, it can truly be a peaceful and wonderful gift for all of us when the time is appropriate. Jim's final lesson to his daughter has played a pivotal role in her desire to help coach and counsel her families as their pets move through the end of life and beyond to the great transition. It is the goal of Wholistic Paws that families be empowered so that the last stages of their pet's life are comfortable, loving, and dignified.
Dr. Erwin first met Grace during her last year at Longwood College. She quickly stole Dr. Erwin and Jeremy's hearts and became an amazing companion for 9 years. Grace was the cheerful "mayor" of the household and she very carefully monitored and scheduled all activities and events. Things were always done on Grace's terms and she took all things in stride- from the amputation of her left hind leg when she was found as a stray to when she developed 2 forms of cancer at the end of her life. Grace gave Dr. Erwin the challenge of seeking novel pain management approaches so she could be comfortable, alternative herbal therapies as the cancers couldn't be treated with conventional medicine, and mobility solutions as one of the tumors caused Grace to be paralyzed in her rear leg. Grace adapted to all of these changes with dignity and an air of invincibility. She even learned to use a cart so she could maneuver around the house for some exercise! Dr. Erwin and Jeremy were able to hospice Grace until she passed away on her own in 2008. This was their first experience in pet hospice and natural death. At the end of her life, Grace taught Dr. Erwin and Jeremy, both, that hospice care and T.L.C. can bring love and beauty to the end of a good friend's life and that a natural death can be a wondrous and comfortable event. While a natural passing may not be appropriate for every patient, it is our goal to provide families the option for pet hospice care when it is needed for their pet and the option for a natural death for their pet if it can be achieved humanely and without suffering. Grace's inspiration led to the Wings of Grace Hospice Care Program at Wholistic Paws and we look forward to helping other families share valuable time together with their pets that are entering their end of life transition.
Amadeus was Dr. Erwin's roommate, companion, and best friend for 15.5 years until he passed away in 2010. He was an eater of homework, a chaser of tails, and endless fetcher of tennis balls. He helped Dr. Erwin through every major life change that she has experienced in her adult life and he was Jeremy's first dog. Amadeus was stubborn and willful and, at the same time, incredibly loving and intuitively kind. He was also amazingly tough and stuck it out through many years with an arthritic body that didn't quite do what he wanted it to do. He taught Dr. Erwin the powers of acupuncture, how to look at pain management from many angles, and the importance of physical therapy in maintaining normal activities of daily living. He made her a better doctor and a more compassionate care giver. He taught her to look at each patient and each ailment from different perspectives to continuously come up with new ideas to make things easier and better for them. At the end, he taught her acceptance of a helping hand when you need it most, humility when dealing with the indignities of aging, trust and undying devotion, and unending hope for recovery in the face of debilitating disease. He proved how important it is to celebrate the little victories we all experience in the face of adversity. Amadeus showed both Dr. Erwin and Jeremy how very important it is to be the bigger person and help a beloved friend meet God with compassion and dignity and without fear or suffering. It is a raw and hard lesson but one that has been profound to both Dr. Erwin and Jeremy and they will do their best to share it with each family that they have the privilege to help. We hope that you all will learn from their experiences and remember to be kind to all of your 2 and 4 legged companions for life is too short and each day is precious-enjoy each day to the fullest and, as Amadeus often proved, no day is too busy to fit in a good ear scratching, back rub, or game of chase the tail!
Just as Dr. Erwin and Jeremy have grown and changed through these experiences, so will Wholistic Paws continue to grow and evolve so that we can always meet and exceed your needs in giving the best possible care for your pet! Whether it is nutritional counseling and help with pain management techniques through acupuncture and rehabilitation to improve your pet's quality of life or steadfast guidance through your pet's end of life and assistance with the final goodbye, we are committed to helping the WHOLE family and the WHOLE pet to have the best, most loving, and most compassionate experience possible.