DOGS – PRESCRIPTION FOR LIFE!
From a promising medical career to bedridden, divorce and despair,
dogs literally saved her
Holly Scott |Nov. 2008 I have been
an animal lover my whole life. As a child, I brought home strays,
fixed their wounds and loved them until my dad took them to the Dumb
Friends League. Cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and rabbits. If
my mom could handle it, I could have it! I had several dogs growing
up and "adopted" neighborhood dogs as my own.
always wanted to be a Veterinarian, but settled for Vet Tech school
in my mid 20's. Only out of school two years, I was recruited by the
University of Colorado Medical Center to be a research technician in
the department of Cardiology. I taught anatomy and some physiology
to medical students, but my main job was to assist cardiology
Fellows in their research projects. I worked at this very demanding
and exciting job for ten years, always challenging myself to learn
more. I became an accomplished surgeon, performing and teaching
intricate procedures on the heart.
In 1990, while visiting friends in Hawaii, I came down with some
dizziness. By the time we returned home, I couldn't walk, talk or
understand what was going on around me. I was diagnosed with
Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 36. I had to take disability
During all the MRI's, spinal tests, blood work, CAT scans, you name
it, all I thought about were my dogs. Could I still feed them, show
them, teach them? I had just won a Group 2 on my Mastiff, Rebel. He
was out of my first litter and my first show dog, Fannie. I had been
active in obedience and had put a CD on my Doberman, a CDX on my Lab
and CD's on two Mastiffs (quite humbling after the high scoring legs
of the Dobe and Lab!). Rebel and another mastiff, Killian, were both
ready to start competing for their CD's. Things looked pretty grim.
Finally, I was at home, in bed. For the first time in my life, I
didn't have a job, I had no self worth. I never asked "why me?" I
just forced myself to get up out of bed and fumble my way downstairs
to take care of my dogs. It would be a year or more before I could
safely go out and care for my horses, goats and pet pigs. But, I did
my dogs......cleaning, grinding nails, feeding and letting them out.
It wasn't pretty.
I just kept thinking, what CAN I do? What did I have to offer? Well,
I had my dogs so, although I had to rely on others to drive me, I
volunteered at Lutheran Hospital's pet therapy program. I had two
Mastiffs in the program and soon, my Border terrier. It was so
fulfilling. If you look, there are always others worse off than you
are. We visited the hospice unit as often as I could. Then, they
changed their program and I would have to commit to a monthly
schedule. With MS, you don't know from day to day (or hour to hour)
how you feel. I couldn't make a commitment and not keep it, so I had
to stop the pet therapy.
As I adjusted to my symptoms and others receded, I was able to drive
again. Back to the dog shows! They were the best therapy for ME. I
might use a cane to get to the ring, but by some miraculous reason,
I could fly around the ring with my dogs!! I bred another litter and
finished more Mastiffs. Getting CD's was tricky. I couldn't walk a
straight line, so my dogs looked bad. One obedience judge made a
snide remark that if I could practice MY walking, maybe my dogs
could learn to heal. I didn't say a word back, I finished three more
CD's on my Mastiffs instead!!
Rebel, my pride and joy, won more Group placements, owner handled!
One day, after winning BOB with Rebel, I wasn’t able to go into
Group. This was unacceptable, said my friend, Ted Browning, a
professional handler. He took Rebel in for me and won the Group!! I
began traveling with Ted and his wife and handled for them for a few
years. I would be exhausted and could hardly walk, but somehow, I
could go into the show ring with a dog and shine. It was like an
adrenaline high. I can't explain it.
In 1994, my husband of 23 years announced that he wanted a divorce.
He said that I might have to have MS, but he didn't. After a very
nasty divorce and thousands of dollars paid to my attorney, I walked
away with my dogs, my horse, my goats, the bus for the dogs and my
van. The dogs were the main thing I needed and thank God the judge
was able to see that.
I had to move, of course. After losing my health, job, husband and
house, I was lost. I was 40 now and had MS and all these dogs. Who
would want me? I was lucky enough to find a person to take us all
in. Audrey raised racing greyhounds and had the room.
I hated my new situation. I lived in an 8X10 ft room in an old
double wide trailer. OK for me, but until I could build a kennel for
my dogs, they had to stay in the bus in Vari-kennels. All of us were
displaced. Two of the dogs got into a fight with me in the middle.
My knee was badly bit. I had to go to the emergency room. I knew I
needed to make things work better. I had a 24 X 14 ft wooden shed
built, professionally insulated, wired and dry walled. I had an air
conditioner installed, found a part-time job and tried to get on
with my life.
In September 1998 while I was at work, the air conditioner stopped
working. All eight of my Mastiffs were killed. I was left with
nothing but an $8000 veterinary bill for the one dog that held on
for three more days. My grief was overwhelming. The dog community
comforted me, someone suggested I contact TAKE THE LEAD. I talked to
Dorothy Collier and all my fears were over. They would pay my bill
and I could start over. I moved from the horrible conditions I had
tolerated in the past two years. I also met a wonderful man, Jim,
whom I live with now. He had never had dogs, so he had quite a
I got another Mastiff from my friend who had bred into my lines. She
was Rebel's granddaughter, Spirit, and I finished her for her breeder.
I only wanted another Mastiff to lay on my feet, to just “be” so I
never specialed Spirit. I bred her and got a beautiful litter of
nine, kept a male. Six of the nine puppies finished their
By now, my old Border terrier was faltering. I did my research and
imported a bitch from New Zealand. She had the "old time" look,
perfect otter head and that proper border coat so hard to find
nowadays. So I bred a litter of Borders, kept a beautiful male who
finished quickly. His sister went to the stud dog owner and finished
Last April I found myself asking again, what can I do? I had been so
successful in the breed ring and the whelping box. I had bred just
six litters of mastiffs which produced 17 champions, also finished a
Bullmastiff and a Pointer. I was a natural at dog anatomy, movement
and just basic structure. I could detect a limp and tell which joint
was affected in an instant. All of this was second nature to me.
A judge, I thought, I could be a judge. Why not? I'm fair, honest,
ethical and have great knowledge of the dog. I couldn't learn a new
profession so why not develop what I already knew? A dog is a dog is
a dog. Learning the differences in the breeds would be fun and
something I could learn and build on. I obtained the information
needed to apply for my judging license for Mastiffs, brushed up
judging matches, best puppy, etc., turned in my application October
2007 and was accepted. I was published for my provisional in
Mastiffs and Junior showmanship (all breeds) in February 2008.
My first assignment was a Regional Specialty in California at Del
Valle, an entry of 67. What a way to start! Hired by my peers, I am
also judging a Supported show in Alabama. I have my dogs, I have my
self-worth, I have a job to do. Life is great.
Some have asked "what if you don't feel well", can you still judge?
Well, I look at it like this: In all the years since my diagnosis of
MS, I've traveled all over the country and to Canada and only missed
two shows for being too sick to go. When I walk into a dog show, my
heart starts pounding, my head clears. I can steward for six hours
and not miss a beat. I think it's the whole atmosphere, the
excitement in watching something that I know and understand. And,
like medicine, my other love, you never stop learning.
Who knows what might happen? Yes, I could falter, but who doesn't? I
could trip. I could get dizzy or fatigued. Or I could do just fine
and do a good job. I can't wait to start this new road ahead. It's
going to be expensive and exhausting. I only have a disability
income but I can say this, I am going to be a good, well respected
judge someday, and I have MS. MS does not have me.
I have loved this sport and all that goes with it for over 25 years
now. Dogs have given me a reason to get out of bed every morning.
Now, dogs have given me a reason of self worth, and a new path to
Dogs ARE my life.
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