Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Treating pets wasn’t part of the plan for Mary Mandeville’s career as a chiropractor.
Nor was “The Walking Dead” on her “to watch” list.
But today, Mary’s successful practice brings comfort to a mix of injured, athletic, and aging pets. For her, the zombie hordes that thrill her 14-yr-old son somehow ease her stress.
After years of petlessness, Mary says, “Animals make my best self — I want more of that.”
“I had a bazillion animals growing up — I learned they were utterly amazing, you could love them and they would love you back. I also learned they would die. For a long time I pulled back.”
Mary stayed back until her late 30s, when she visited a shelter at her partner’s urging.
Enter Molly, dog pound alumni extraordinaire. Mary says she quickly “went from not wanting dog hair on my clothes to ‘I can't bear to lose her,’” when Molly was hit by a car and lost a front leg.
“My only plan was to help my dog, to help this unfixable situation,” Mary remembers. And off she flew to the Midwest for specialized training.
Today pets dominate her practice. “One of my long-term people clients said ‘I promise you, I have a referral from my dog; can I come and see you?’" Mary laughs.
As Molly healed, life threw Mary a curve — cancer. Molly stepped up to support her on three legs.
“I would look at Molly, she’d plop her one leg across my lap, paw at me, and stare up at my face. It was just the kindest ‘get a grip’ ever,” Mary says quietly. “She had some street cred from losing her leg, to tell me how to handle a hard time.”
“Dogs reach past and around the barriers we put up with each other. They crash ‘em down; it's just awesome. I'm working on making my relationships with people more like my relationships with my dogs.”
An aspiring author, away from the office, Mary writes, and manages her zombie addiction. The shoe that is so her? “A good pair of trail shoes; I'm never without them.”
Her dogs include Barney, a brindle Pit who came as a foster (“We knew within five minutes we were doomed to foster-fail”), and Kelly, a Pit puppy who was pushed out a car door and abandoned.
An admitted former Pit Bull bigot, Mary waxes sentimental. “Barney snuggles up with our 14-year-old boy, and it’s adorable beyond being able to stand it.”
One of the joys of coming home to pets, she says.
“Doesn't matter if you're late, dressed up, or messy. A fur-kid is there thinking I'm the best person in the universe, just because I came home. I REALLY need to be more like my dogs.”
She loves her work with pets, especially the aged.
“It's so good to help them negotiate their final territory easier; it ends up being one of the sweetest, most sacred portions of what I do.”
Mary also shares the sorrow of final good-byes.
“They’re treating their beloved pet with compassion, beauty and kindness. They're walking their loved one right up to the rainbow bridge before letting go of their leash. I'm grateful to have the magical opportunity to do that. It's actually that sad thing that lifts you up. People can't be as brokenhearted as they are about their pets if they didn't love them spectacularly. Even if the pet isn't mine, I feel it.”
Magical, like her favorite season, Autumn.
“Colors are vibrant and about to be over,” she says with passion. “Autumn is beautiful, bittersweet, and I love it.”
Mary says her dogs get her “middle-aged butt out of the chair every day — they’re the reason I've lived through the stresses I have. On the darkest day, a little piece of joy can seep into me when I do something with the dogs,” she smiles. “It's an absolute gift to feel that happiness.”
Contact Mary at Animal Healing Arts of Portland, 503-719-4088.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Christy Caballero writes from her soul about animals and their humans. She and hubby Herb compete for space on the couch with three big RagaMuffin cats, two retired racing greyhounds and one slightly neurotic foster greyhound -- who never wants to leave. Ever.
UPDATE: Slightly neurotic foster greyhound / failed foster number three. Never has to leave. Ever.