Jeffrey Burton Reeves
Opening my Hands
Like you, who I am and why I do the things that I do are not random. I feel that all of life is a divine appointment. How I came to help people and their pets is no exception. My veterinary skills have been born out of a curiosity about how all life works and a professional drive to be effective at what I do. My desire to help people and pets suffer less is a natural extension of my love for veterinary medicine and my love for people. I am moved by the compassion that I have experienced and want to share it. I am learning that tears do not come from a place of weakness. More...
I was raised in a loving and supportive family with deep roots and high expectations. My summers were spent on my grandparents' farm in Okeene. I went to a private Christian school in a comfortable Sacramento suburb. We always had a dog and cat at home; and on the farm there were many, many kinds of pets. They were part of the family and integral to our lives. My heroes all respected creatures. When I was a boy my mom bought my sister and I a Cocker Spaniel puppy. Both she and my dad had Cocker Spaniels when they were kids. This black Cocker pup Ebony, was my first love and my first heartbreak.
As a man I had an increasing interest in science and took courses that would help me become a medical professional. However, I became a veterinarian in a most unusual way. I started veterinary school at Ross University with very little prior planning. Upon discovery of Ross University, I had already completed all their prerequisites and was accepted immediately upon application. I was reluctant to leave my home in California to study abroad, but was ready for a challenge and a new culture. After entering Ross University on St. Kitts I was ambivalent regarding a career in veterinary medicine. It was not until after I started to learn about pet medicine that I became fascinated with animal medicine. After a year and half of study I applied to OSU and was accepted into the class of 2000. I was so blessed to be given the opportunity to come back to the U.S. and finish my veterinary learning just 70 miles from my second home. Shortly after I was blessed again and started a fascination and bonding of another sort. I met and fell in love with a wonderful girl in my new veterinary class. We were married in our last year of veterinary school. One year later we started our careers in the OKC Metro. Our pets were our children. We loved two dogs, a cat and a bird. I bonded strongest with General. He was the world's best dog.
General was a gentle giant. Not long after we had moved to Oklahoma City and started practice I experienced a deep loss. I was working clearing brush on my grandparent's farm when I heard a boom and tires skidding out on the road. General had been killed instantly. As I came toward his silent, open, body I felt something leave me. I had lost pets in traumatic ways before but in my youth, my grief was not encumbered with my identity. I had just mastered cutting-edge animal health knowledge. Tests had proven that I was qualified to help pets stay healthy. Like General’s body had been broken, so had been broken the naïve notion that my privilege, knowledge, and skill could give me control of this life. I have not had my own dog since losing him. That was almost 20 years ago. Sometimes General will still bound through my memories. I will smile and murmur. “I miss General”.
Most of my veterinary career has been spent in emergency hospital. Not only do I witness many more types of disease than a general practitioner, my work alongside specialists and special technology has given me superior understanding of what is possible. Daily, I helped people on what for some seemed like the worst day of their decade, others more like the worst day of their life. I have always had sympathy and compassion people dealing with loss, I had lost people that I loved and friends (like General) too. However, it was not until that wonderful girl, instantly vanished from my life that I knew what it was to be devastated with loss. In the brokenness that contemplates suicide, I finally came to empathy. I now know we are all just one or two circumstances from helplessness. A supportive community lifts me up, helps me heal, and love again. I thank God everyday for my feelings of hopelessness and despair. Broken people are the perfect help for broken people. Pride, ego, and judgment are washed away by your tears.
My family has had a lot of influence in the creation of Paws at Peace, especially my beautiful wife Teresa. Teresa is a dreamer, visionary, and perfectionist. Qualities that very well compliment my pessimism, realism, and drive to get-r-done. Because Teresa is a gifted therapist, I have been immersed in the culture and learning about the art of therapy. Through her, I have learned so much about how people process feelings and emotions. Therapy is an exploration of the mind. Therapy helps us recognize patterns of thinking that are unhelpful. When it is working well and your are open to it, it helps you develop skills to stop these unhelpful patterns. Then, we can live so much better lives. Teresa shares so many aspects of her work with me. With her work she inspires me to get excited about mental health and be present for my own mental health journey. As a result, I can bring so much more to the work of helping people with their thinking as it relates to their pets health and providing resources for the mental health of people dealing with care of a failing friend or the loss of that special soul.
Paws at peace was created out of an under-served need for in-home pet hospice service in Oklahoma, and my passion for helping people with their difficult pet health decisions. Let me know what you are dealing with. Together we will find what works.