Isis came to me in Hong Kong many long years ago. I was working as a veterinarian in a small clinic there, and the clinic was her last stop before the pound, where she had little chance of ever leaving.

IsisIsis never made it to the pound. She looked deep into my soul and she stayed. Her birth month was May, which seemed to suit her wise and wily personality.

All our animal companions are special, but some are more special than others, leaving indelible paw prints on our hearts. Isis was one of these dogs. The long and magical years Isis was by my side went in the blink of an eye. She moved through three continents. Many other animals came into my life and went. There were other countless changes. Isis was the only constant; loyal in her love.

Isis was a black and tan Hong Kong-German shepherd-mix, a unique and little known breed. Her parentage was a little questionable, so we didn't talk about that, but indigenous feral dogs lurked quietly in her genes. She was compact and muscular and had a wise and beautiful face. Her deep brown eyes shown with depth and intelligence that could not be missed.

She came to be my teacher and served her lessons with dignity and love. If she had been able to talk, then joy, fun, wisdom, and healing with compassion would have been her sermons. But she taught me in her own quiet manner and never preached or bored. If only human teachers could teach us like animals how much we would learn.

Isis was vibrant and full of life as a puppy. She loved to chase leaves and always caught them unawares. She revelled in her walks by the aqua ocean, by the crystal clear waters of the South China Sea. A dog of the tropics, she never learned to like rain.

She would surf the waves and then roll in the sun-bleached sand, looking at me from the corner of her eye, to make sure I was watching her antics. What a show she put on. And how much joy and fun she helped me to have. Sometimes, we would sit on a rock by the ocean and watch the red disc of the sun drop silently into the dark water. She never shared her thoughts, but I know she knew all I was thinking.

We shared some happy months until the day I hiked into the mountains and through the jungle. As I was about to take a step, I looked down and saw a dangerous green bamboo pit viper under my foot. I froze and stopped, and the snake moved away. But the viper's appearance left a silent warning that things would not always be such fun and ease. I shivered and went on with my walk. That evening, I removed one tick from Isis and thought nothing more about it.

The next day Isis looked worried as if she was trying to tell me something. I took her temperature. It was a hundred and four; already two degrees above normal. I knew she had a tick disease and immediately gave her the appropriate treatment. I thought she would be fine by that evening and was glad I had caught it so early.

Two hours later I checked on Isis, and her temperature had risen to a hundred and six. She was weak and lethargic, and her gums were pale. She lay on her side, weakly wagging the tail that only yesterday, had never been still for more than a millisecond.

Realizing her illness was serious, I started Isis on more treatment and injections, which had always worked before, since tick diseases were common in the sultry Hong Kong climate. Bloodwork revealed she had not one but two often fatal tick diseases.

Even though I was doing all I had been taught during my long days of veterinary college, Isis only rallied a little. She would vomit the medicine and stopped eating. I started her on intravenous fluids, and she came around a little. If I coaxed, she would drink a little chicken broth.

As the weeks went on, Isis lapsed into a chronic state, and her bone marrow shut down. I knew this was the end and did not know other options. She lost pounds and was thin and weak. Even as I prepared to watch her die, I noticed that her will to live was strong, so I decided to respect that.

Friends suggested I try alternatives. I thought, "How could homeopathy, dilute substances, possibly do anything where the drugs had failed?" Oh what lessons we learn.

I consulted with a professional colleague and started giving Isis natural foods and supplements that supported her weak and compromised immune system. I cooked and served gourmet foods for her with enthusiasm. I thought they looked good, but Isis was much more discerning. I hand-fed them to her, and she enjoyed my being her handmaiden. I began to see subtle changes -- a little burst of life; the sparkle returning in her eyes. Maybe, just maybe, there was something to this alternative treatment.

Amazingly bloodwork showed improvement. When she got a remedy, her bone marrow made more cells, and her blood began to grow red and strong again. Months passed, and Isis emerged from her illness.

Isis had started on her path to healing, and I had started on my path to learn about healing. Trained in rigorous scientific dogma, holistic healing was alien to me. To study, I travelled to Tibet, watched the monks pray, and absorbed much. Isis studied more leaves and sand, and absorbed much, in her canine studies of life.

I moved back to England and then to America. Isis came with me. She took the long flights in her stride, even graciously allowing a white Bengal tiger to share her flight to Florida. We studied hard, and I became a full time holistic veterinarian. I was now able to help other animals, who perhaps could not respond to more conventional means. I followed the path I was meant to, but which I never would have found without Isis.

Isis knew when animals were sick and she offered them her compassion. She visited sick and hospitalized animals, sitting by them and seeming to heal in her gentle way. One clinic where I worked named her Nurse Isis.

My thirteen years with Isis were too short. She remained in good health, until her death in 2003. Every day was a gift I never expected. Due to her health problems when she was younger, I was never able to spay Isis. So she surprised me with a big and very crazy gift. Her legacy lived on in her daughter, who lived with me for nine loving years.

What lessons and paths Isis took me on. In our full animal household, Isis always ruled supreme in her wise and knowing way.

Her presence still lives on in me.

How could I have known, when she chose her name, that like the Goddess Isis, she was to teach of healing in a miraculous way. And beyond healing, how much Isis taught about love.


Dr. Anna Maria Gardner is a holistic veterinarian based in Washington State. She is certified in acupuncture and homeopathy. She lives with her daughter, three dogs, six cats, eleven chickens, a horse, a donkey, and a parrot.

This story first appeared in Angel Animals July 2014. My grateful thanks to Dr Gardner for giving me permission to publish it on my website.

Please visit Dr Gardner’s website on this link:




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