Pet Week photo contest winners - Nine tails with nine tales

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This year's submissions to the National Pet Week Photo Contest included the usual variety of fun, warmth, and caring. They share another common trait - a depiction of the bond between people and pets that reflects the theme of this year's pet week, "Friends for Life."

The contest celebrates the 20th annual National Pet Week, May 7-13. There were two categories this year, one for the special bond with pets, and another for a photo that best depicts the veterinarian-client-patient relationship. The contest is sponsored by the JAVMA and the Auxiliary to the AVMA.

Special Bond

Dr. Terry Besch, daughter Erin, and Kelsey
1st Place Dr. Terry Besch, Frederick, Md, submitted this photo of herself with her 1½-year-old daughter, Erin, and their 11-year-old dog, Kelsey. Whether Kelsey is admiring Erin or the girl's hat is debatable, but there appears to be no doubt about the affection they share for each other.

Dr. Rose Walter and Flo
2nd Place Shall we dance? While waltzing around in the woods, Dr. Rose Walter, Washington, DC, finds it difficult not to return the affections of a tall, dark stranger. This isn't really a stranger, however; it's Dr. Walter's Great Dane, Flo, who accompanied her on a hike through Shenandoah National Park.
Sandra and Mr. Mao
3rd PlaceThis hearty Himalayan is named Mr. Mao. Dr. Margaret Shively, Kennebunk, Maine, snapped this photo of her daughter Sandra with the fluffy feline. Oddly enough, he's not named for the Chinese chairman, but rather for the sound he makes, which is more mao than meow. Now 14, Mr. Mao was a hospital mascot, prize-winning show cat, and a stud before he retired. It takes a heap of fur to do all that, apparently. Mr. Mao reportedly weighs only 12½ pounds.


Veterinarian-client-patient relationship

Dr. Hill and Heather
1st Place Veterinarians often develop a bond with their patients different from that of human doctors. An animal control officer brought Heather, a Siberian Husky, to Dr. Karen Hill, Huntsville, Ala, to be euthanatized. The frightened animal had extensive ulcerated dermal lesions on the head, nose, and feet secondary to Demodex infestation, in addition to behavior problems. Dr. Hill took the dog under her care, and, with the help of Dr. Elizabeth Schull at the University of Tennessee's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, restored the dog to good health. Heather now travels daily with Dr. Hill and is reported to have an overtly loving nature. Dr. Hill said her experiences with Heather helped her empathize with her clients.

Dr. Stiens-Bircher with Gina & Jessica Nies, and Nicki
2nd Place Dr. Dawn M. Stiens-Bircher of the Kettering Animal Hospital in Ohio poses with her client/nieces, Gina and Jessica Nies, and their cat Nicki. This cozy quartet shows only one facet of Dr. Stiens-Bircher's range of patients. Dr. Stiens-Bircher is also a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and has worked with a menagerie of exotic land and sea animals.
Dr. Turenne and Freddie
3rd Place Let's get ready to rumble. The top dog in this photo is Freddie, and willingly pinned beneath him is Dr. Monica M. W. Turenne, Ann Arbor, Mich. Dr. Turenne was about 17 years old when her family adopted Freddie as a puppy. She said looking after and bonding with Freddie was the inspiration for her to become a veterinarian. Freddie died at 14, but the inspiration lives on through Dr. Turenne's work at Washenow Veterinary Clinic, her small animal practice in Ann Arbor.

Most Heartwarming

Laurie Ann Pearlman and Puppy
Laurie Ann Pearlman is a first-year veterinary student at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Her companion, Puppy, may have outgrown his name, but his bond with Laurie can never grow too large. Puppy has been fighting T-cell lymphosarcoma since August. Laurie said that when this photo was taken, at Point Pleasant, NJ, it represented a break from chemotherapy; a time to celebrate their lives and their bond.


Dr. Geller and Chip
Dr. Alan Geller, of the Animal Medical Hospital of Escondido, Calif, works long days but rarely has a chip on his shoulder. This is the notable exception, as Dr. Geller allows Chip to cozy up on his collarbone.


Dr. McLain, Calum and Harry
Warning: dogs in mirror may be closer than they appear.
Dr. Laura McLain, Sandy, Utah, shot her Norwich Terriers, Calum (left) and Harry, while on a scenic drive through the mountains. We're mildly reassured by the fact that this appears to be the passenger's side mirror.