abbie moos '74

 

animal healer

%512%right%A black-and-white cat named Hope, the new mother of kittens, lies still on the table, blood seeping from her eye socket, barely breathing. Struck by a car, Hope will not survive the night. . . . A standard poodle named Al bounds into the waiting room, a colorful bandage wrapped around his middle. He's come in for a final check-up from his last eating escapade. Al tends to eat anything, even underwear. He's fine, for now. . . . A one-pound Yorkie is carried into the room because, according to the owner, "He seems flat." He's fine, too. . . . A cat of uncertain origin gets brought in by someone who dropped off another ill-fated cat the week before. She's in a holding cage, awaiting tests.

The above scene played out one night during the first hour of the 14-hour shift (6 p.m. to 8 a.m.) at the Emergency Veterinary Hospital in Springfield, Ore. The presiding vet that night was Abbie Moos '74, a lover and healer of animals, large and small.

"Growing up, I was in one of those households that always had lots of dogs and cats," Moos said. "I can't imagine a life without animals." Moos even managed to fit animals into her life at Colby, tending a gerbil named Ratatosk in her room and a horse named Zooey in nearby Albion.

But her life at Colby, during the turbulent Vietnam War era, revolved largely around long conversations drinking coffee at the Spa. "We'd talk about anything, from the profound and the personal to the merely political," she said.

Moos completed her undergraduate education at Penn State before applying to veterinary school. She then earned a master's at the University of Iowa and a doctorate in veterinary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania before spending several years conducting basic research on infectious diseases in Montana. Moos's career gravitated back toward animal care when she moved to Oregon in 1989. She taught at the veterinary school at Oregon State, worked part time at the Emergency Animal Hospital, and, ever the go-getter, even managed to earn a Ph.D.

Nine years ago she began working full time at the Emergency Animal Hospital, one of four veterinarians, supported by several technicians, who oversee the hospital on nights and weekends.

"Treating the animals is the easy part," she said. "Dealing with the owners is much more difficult. They're freaked out that their pet is sick and often concerned about the costs, which run $500-600 on a typical night and much higher when surgery is required."

%513%left%But the rewards abound. Letters of deep gratitude adorn the hospital's bulletin boards ("Thank you all so much for your help in keeping Polly with us," etc.). "It's exciting to stabilize an animal and bring it back," said Moos. "Most cases have happy endings, and we're always celebrating the importance of pets."

And then there's Moos's burgeoning acupuncture practice, which occupies a third of her time. "Western medicine works well at times of crisis. But acupuncture addresses the spiritual energy component, the wellness side," she said. Horses make up the majority of her acupuncture business, athletes such as race horses and show jumpers. "They love it! When you put needles into a horse, he starts drooling and looks at you, like, 'Where have you been all my life?'" She's done acupuncture on cows, goats, rabbits, even rats.

"I get to practice the Yin and Yang of medicine," she said. "The emergency work is fast-paced, high adrenaline. The acupuncture work is calm, almost spiritual, creating a sense of well being."

One might wonder how a person who drives 65 miles from her home to work 14-hour shifts at her traditional workplace (the Animal Hospital) and on other days makes house calls,and barn calls,around Oregon treating her acupuncture clients could have time to enjoy life. Abbie Moos doesn't wonder. "I'm the luckiest person in the world," she said.

,David Treadwell