I went to a memorial service today for a woman who was a major part of our animal shelter. I didn’t know Harriet well; I mostly knew her from talking at meetings once a month at her house. I loved that she said her last name, Doolittle, and her love of animals meant she had to follow a certain calling, which she did. She was a veterinarian.
I went today out of respect and to support the friends I know well in the shelter. I’m very glad I did; I learned a lot about this amazing woman.
- She became a vet when very few women were in the field, setting what would be a theme in her life: being a pioneer
- She started a few animal hospitals.
- She was a teacher, establishing a veterinary program that still exists and is creating a scholarship in her name.
- She owned a home along a lake that she kept as a sanctuary for many people who needed to recover in the heart and soul.
- She was a major, loving force in a young man’s life, including helping him go to college. You can read his tribute to her right here.
- She mentored people in therapy dog programs.
And much, much more. Today, people from the animal shelter, her former students who now teach and heal, people who are currently students, and many friends came to remember her and talk about what an amazing life she led.
In the middle of the tears and memories, one of her former students, now a vet and trainer, did the one thing missing in the memorial: they brought in dogs. They had just passed they licensing for being therapy dogs, and on the day they passed, this woman brought them to see Harriet who had helped so many people get their dogs licensed and who helped so many hurting people be comforted by dogs in this program. The dogs climbed up into her hospital bed, and she had her arms around them, enjoying having dogs with her again. Her own dog, Copper, was with friends in Florida since she had to go into the hospital.
Harriet passed away that night, having had a last day that meant a lot to her: surrounded by friends, students, protegees, and pets.
I firmly believe that we need to use our lives to make the world even a little better. Harriet Doolittle lived that type of life; she saw pain in the world and set herself to heal it. She made the world better and left a long reaching legacy because of it.