2 April

Heroes: People To Thank For Keeping Life Going

by Jon Katz

I was going around to photograph our new heroes, people who take some risk and chances to keep our world going. In New York City, residents honk horns, ring bells, cheer and clap for the first responders working so hard to keep people alive.

I’ve been to the post office – Wendy –  and a grocery store -Jeanine – to take some photos of our local heroes, the cashiers in food stores, mechanics, convenience store workers.

Today, I went to the Cambridge  Valley Veterinarian Service, a kind of extension of family for me. I had some heroes to photograph.

A lot of vets have closed, leaving people with pets stranded and worried. My vet stayed open; they started a different system. We have to drive to the parking lot and call and wait for somebody to come out (in a mask) and bring the dog inside while we wait.

After the exam is over, the dog is brought back, and then Dr. Suzanne Fariello, our vet, comes in her mask and talks about the dog and their health. We had to bring a urine sample for Zinnia; she had a urinary tract infection last week. And we got hundreds of dollars worth of tick and flea medications for the three dogs.

I got Dr. Fariello and her quite amazing staff – Lisa in the back, and Nicole and Cassandra to pause for a second with their masks. We stayed a good six feet from one another. I’m not a hugger, and that wouldn’t have been appropriate anyway, so I blew them all kisses – softly.

I’ve known these people for years, and it is a shock for me to see them in masks. They are just as professional and dedicated and helpful as they usually are, but I can see the fatigue in their eyes.

I could not count the times they have come to the rescue of my dogs, and their tick attacks and ripped paws and infections – Gus’s illness, Red’s long treatment, and death. I remember the day Suzanne put Rose down; he was one of her favorite dogs. I was lying on the floor, sniffling, Maria holding my hand.

I looked up to see her crying. She still misses him. We’ve worked out a lot of things together. She is the best.

I will never forget the look on Dr. Fariello’s face when she had to tell us Gus has megaesophagus, a fatal digestive disease.

She handles her work with knowledge and grace. I could hardly thank her enough. Nicole and Cassandra are the same; they keep the practice humming and moving and have learned to explain medications to me in ways even I understand.

I am grateful to these people for hanging in there with us during this unprecedented time.

I think trouble like this defines us, in one way or another, and these people are angels to me.

I know a woman whose 15-year-old dog had a stroke this morning (she lives near Albany), and all of the local vets had closed. She found a retired vet in the next town who agreed to come put her dog down, but he is also swamped with house calls, and she has been sitting with her vomiting and spasming dog for 12 hours.

The retired vet – he is working out of the goodness of his heart, not taking money –  says he is coming, but it might be a few more hours yet.

Dr. Fariello would never let that happen to us, and I am grateful to her and Lisa and Nicole and Cassandra for being willing to stay open and working so hard to care for our animals. It’s an awful thing to have a suffering dog with no veterinarian to go see.

Vets don’t have to close; they can stay open if they want to. Many didn’t want to.

They are closing early in mid-afternoons, but watching them stagger to their cars, I appreciated them all the more. Like most people, I tend to take people like that for granted – they are always there, helpful, and supportive- until there’s trouble. They need to be acknowledged and appreciated.

Today I told them I just wanted to take their photo and share their goodness and compassion with the people who read the blog. I feel it’s essential to remind everyone that people are good given a chance, and you don’t have to be a soldier in combat to be a hero.

These remarkable and dedicated women are helping to keep our world intact – cashiers, USPS, FedEx and UPS drivers, mechanics, ambulance drivers, and police –  until we can return to it and start putting the pieces together again.

I am grateful to them, love to you, my heroes.


  1. So many heroes, thank you for highlighting yours! Look for the helpers, said Mr. Rogers. You are a helper, Jon. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for recognizing other healthcare workers/businesses. My husband is a veterinarian, owner of a solo practitioner clinic with 4 dedicated employees. He has kept his practice open & doing very much the same procedures as your vet. And yes, everyone goes home with slower footsteps & tired eyes and show up the next morning with smiles. Rock stars!

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