Judy lost her mother in 2010. She fell into a deep depression, suffered anxiety and didn’t want to get out of bed. She admits she even had suicidal thoughts. When she returned to work, she was moved to a different area that was less stressful for her.
A colleague suggested to Judy that she should adopt a dog or cat. ‘I’ve never been around cats so I went online to look for a dog, and there she was, the sweetest face I had ever come across. She was fat, so fat! She pulled on my heart strings and I fell in love straight away. When I took her home it was like all the pain that I had been feeling in my heart had eased, all because of this dear soul.’
For five years, Judy and Cubby were inseparable, enjoying walks and even travelling on trains and trams together. With no children, Cubby was Judy’s baby. In her later years, Judy even brought her a stroller to ease her arthritis pain.
Judy chose to bring Cubby to Lort Smith because of the payment plans on offer. It was a lot cheaper than other vet clinics and a friend had recommended her to Lort Smith.
Cubby received her regular vaccinations and check-ups but it wasn’t until she was scheduled to have a dental treatment that Cushing’s Disease was discovered from a blood test. Symptoms include a pot belly, increased hunger and thirst. This was treated with medication and regular tests.
Over time Judy noticed Cubby wasn’t herself. Lort Smith sadly determined that Cubby had contracted pancreatitis, had kidney disease and diabetes. When the pain became too much, Judy came to Lort Smith to have her put to sleep.
Judy’s grief returned and she sought advice from her doctor. Judy was told to keep busy and do something she loved. And with that, Judy enrolled in a Cert II in Animal Studies Vet Nursing Stream at Melbourne Polytechnic. Cubby had led her to a complete career change!
‘I had a lightbulb moment; I thought I would love to give back to Lort Smith by volunteering. This is to thank the staff from the bottom of my heart for the care and compassion they showed me and especially the love of my life, my Cubby, during the good times, the not-so-good times and the final days of her life. Cubby was always treated as my companion and they all showed her love,’ says Judy.
Judy became a Lort Smith volunteer, joining more than 380 other animal-loving, passionate and generous individuals.
‘I have a standard shift every Wednesday in the laundry. This involves walking around the wards and ensuring that the staff have enough supplies of clean and fresh towels and bedding which then allows them to focus on the brilliant work they all do.
‘The volunteer induction was very thorough and I am enjoying the volunteer experience. It’s great to meet all the staff and other volunteers.
‘At first I thought it would be very difficult for me to return to the place where I put my girl to sleep. But I have found it very healing and comforting to be around people that went out of their way to make my Cubby as comfortable as possible. Dealing with grief is very difficult but when you are around such beautiful, caring souls, it makes it a whole lot easier.’
Judy has taken advantage of the bereavement services on offer at Lort Smith. ‘I went to a memorial service but it was a bit hard for me because it was so close to when Cubby passed. But there is another one coming up and I’m going to do a speech for her.
‘I volunteer for several reasons. I wanted to give back to Lort Smith because of the way everyone treated Cubby – never just as a number. And because there are people around me that understand, they are on the same page as me. I don’t want to surround myself with negative people so I come here, [Lort Smith] where people are more understanding.
‘Lort Smith means everything to me. I class it like the Royal Children’s Hospital – if not better! And I tell people that. There are angels here.’