The world’s best veterinarian

This was posted in 2017.  I am reposting it to honor a man who was kind, caring and giving to humans and their 4-footed family.  As you can imagine, he was rich when it came to the love of friends, his family, and those who were lucky enough to have him as the vet for their 4-footed family.  But a kind and giving heart doesn’t amass a lot of money.

A week ago Sunday, he collapsed at home.  He was taken to the hospital and found to have cancer in the liver, lungs, chest and brain.  He’d complained of migraines, but kept working.  In fact, I took Dingo Mutt in for a blood test 2 weeks before Dr. Jeff ended up in the hospital.  He looked tired; that was the only indication something wasn’t right.

He was in the hospital for a few days, and received medication.  Yesterday, he went home with his family, awaiting the results of the biopsy. 

He passed away today, 11/9/2020 at the age of 58.

A gofundme page was started for him to help pay the bills.


I’ve been blessed with the world’s best veterinarian. 

I can hear it now, “My vet is the world’s best!”

In a word…


My mother had 3 dogs and a cat when she passed away June 1993.  I moved into the home she’d built with my dad between the years of 1977 and 1985 to care for her pets and find a lawyer for the probate.  Going through her records, I found the name, “Jeff Laraway, DMV.”   

How was I to know he’d only been in practice for 3 years at that time? 

My mom rarely allowed her dogs in the house, but that’s not the same as neglecting them.  Doghouses were kept away from wind and sun on the carport, and the bedding was always clean.  She kept their water fresh and their food bowls full.  She called her favorite, a wolf-shepherd mix, “the gentleman,” and petted him often.  When she passed a way, he grieved over her for months.

The way my mother talked about how Dr. Jeff cared for her menagerie, you’d think he lived one floor down from God. 

Then I met him and understood why.

What is the number one complaint people have about their vets?  “He’s always trying to sell me something, then he’s in a hurry to get to the next person.”

That has never once happened to me with Dr. Jeff. 

He remembers one very, very important truth about the area he lives and works in.  And I am the poster gal for that truth.

If there were a thermometer for “rich,” the love of my 4-footed companions would threaten to burst mercury out of the top.  If money is the mercury that paints your “rich” thermometer red and you stick it up…

…um, we’re not going to go there.

Let’s just say that the mercury level on my money thermometer might fill up half the bulb at the bottom. 

How poor is my county?

My mom used to say, “You can’t get blood out of a turnip.”

In the vernacular of those who live in this area, I’ll take it one step further, “That turnip done dried up an’ blowed away!”

Never, in the entire 24 years that Dr. Jeff has cared for my loved ones, has he ever treated us any differently than he would treat a woman with designer clothing and her well-coiffured poodle wearing a diamond collar.  Hard to believe, but there are a few of those living at the periphery of our humble county that don’t mind coming to a lovely hide-away in the woods.  

Shelton Vet Clinic

Dr. Jeff understands my need for cheaper ways to care for my family of 4-footed companions, and that includes rolling up to the house in a pickup truck.  He’d been to my home so many times he lined up the rabies shots for 5 dogs and 2 cats in preparation for what he knew was about to come next.  The moment my front gate opened, the dogs piled out to sniff the tires and gather around Dr. Jeff as if to say, “I’m here, pet me!” 

The newest addition, Rottie Mutt, smiled from his eyes, tongue hanging out in ecstasy, as if the stethoscope was petting him.  Though I wished I’d had my camera with me at the time, I doubt it would’ve survived trying to hold off a squirming mass of dogs wanting to be near Dr. Jeff while one received personal attention and his (or her) shot.

As usual,  there has to be one that just won’t cooperate,

and Other Brother Coon Cat (OBCC) was “that one.” 

Houdini cat managed to get away.  He hid until the truck monster was long gone and the sound of a can opener beckoned him inside.

The offending feline showing his derriere

How do you tell a cat that he would’ve been better off getting vaccinated in the front yard?   The same way you teach a lizard algebra.  

You don’t.

Understanding that concept is not going to happen in this lifetime.

It meant we had to go to plan B:  A trip to the vet’s office for one D@*#$d shot. 

Little did I know there was a plan C looming over that horizon.

The words “nostalgia” and “cat” have no business showing up in the same sentence.  This lovely Saturday morning, I dusted off the nylon cat carrier I’d purchased for my 2 coon cats when they were 6 months old, fondly remembering how they’d crouched together side by side for their first vet visit; curious about the world, ever-so-calm and ever-so-cute. 

Six years later, OBCC shredded that memory as he fought against a confined space barely large enough to hold him, destroying the front zipper in seconds.

 I yelled out to calmly asked the other human in the house if he knew where the cat carriers with bolts were located. Apparently, it took a trudge through the Amazon with a side-trip to the Okefenokee swamp that resulted in something you might expect Indiana Jones to pluck of the murky waters. 

As I scrubbed the offending container with Tide, I thought about that line in Star Wars, “What an incredible smell you’ve discovered.”

Clean(er), and lined with one of his favorite towels, we fetched the critter who had evaded the first attempt at vaccination and recently killed his former cat carrier.

“Rrrrrrraaaarrrrr,” he yelled all the way to the vet’s office.   If “fingernails down a chalkboard” met “disk grinder” and they had a child, it would be a 10 foot tall speaker blaring out that sound.

Now I’m going to tell you about the first people I meet when I enter the vet’s office:  Vet Techs.  The words “incredible, kind, calm, caring” can’t begin to cover their talents.  I asked if I could take a picture because I want people all over the world to see what kindness, caring, and love look like:

Back row: Lisa and Chelsea……Front row: Genia, Sunshine and Maddie

They greet me with a smile even when they have a phone to their ear and two people talking at them.  Lisa knew exactly why I was there and I felt as if I were talking with a friend about my elusive coon cat. 

Vet Techs have a tough job.  Cleaning up poop, pee, and other things that spew out of the body is nothing compared to what she faces every day.  It seems to me that you’d need, as a prerequisite, either  a Ph.D. in patience, or be the sane parent of 5 hyperactive children who all survived to adulthood.   

I couldn’t hold someone’s long-time companion while he’s euthanized, comfort his human half, and not want to find another job.  I couldn’t watch so many loved ones carried into the office in pain, or not develop PTSD after the 100th time someone’s pet has bitten me out of fear.  And I certainly couldn’t weather the snips, gripes and orders from humans who seem to think that “vet tech” and “slave” are synonymous terms.

We didn’t wait long. OBCC’s Vet Tech for the day, Chelsea, greeted us,  opting not to take OBCC out of his cage in the waiting room (a wise choice).  She chose to try it on a portable scale in a closed-up examination room. 

Here you can see what half of OBCC weighs, and what he looks like when he’s in mid banshee scream.   He’s frightened, not angry. He’s never bitten anyone and Chelsea’s finger was not in danger.

Word to the wise – he doesn’t like having his temperature taken.

This is what he looked like after Dr. Jeff walked in the room.

You can see how “terrified” OBCC is while Dr. Jeff examines him.   

He does get mad at his human at times, but he finally forgave me for having him stuffed into a cat carrier.

Unfortunately, he decided to forgive me just seconds before he was about to get his rabies vaccination.

But not to fear.  Once OBCC arrived home, he ate ½ a can of food and did this:

Thanks Dr. Jeff! 

Thanks Lisa, Chelsea, Maddie, Genia and Sunshine! 

Whether you’re attending to 4-footed, feathered, furred, haired, scaled or leathery companions, excellence is your standard practice.