It must be the unconditional love our pets provide us that drives us to seek the best of the best for them when life is at stake -- at least it was for me one evening last week when I found my little Beagle, Penny, frisky one minute, begging for food and splayed out on the kitchen floor unable to move the next!  Her little body had suddenly become cold and she was clearly dazed.

To an owner inexperienced in sudden dog collapse, this really looked like a stroke, but knowing her drive to chase, catch and possibly devour any number of interesting yard critters, I suspected that she may have eaten something disagreeable, so off we were to the emergency vet thinking her stomach was really upset.  Little did I know at the time that when I walked in with her, she would be promptly pronounced in critical condition (check their gums -- if gums are white and not pink, your dog is in big trouble) and whisked away into emergency care to stablize her vital signs.

Our first of two stops began in the Skokie offices of the 911 Emergency vet where expert hands began her diagnosis.  Suspected were two things, neurologic problems and a possible issue with her abdomen and underlying internal organs, something discovered as a result of a big, tight tummy (we just thought she was getting fat) and a suspicious x-ray.  Told that surgery might be needed, I made the executive decision to "transport" her to the incredible Buffalo Grove facility on Busch Parkway -- the Veterinary Specialty Clinic.  The "transport" was not without risk and the 911 vet would not guarantee her safe arrival, but nonetheless, we ventured out hoping for the best.  Upon arrival there with expert arrangements and coordination between the two facilities, I had x-ray films in hand and one very sick dog.

Penny (in front) is shown here with her littermate, Lucy, in a puppy picture.  As a grown dog her cuteness and engaging brown eyes have never changed.  Her ditzy personality is infectious making you absolutely want to pick her up, pet her or play.  Sweetness exudes from each and every inch of this loving little friend.

As I entered the Veterinary Speciality Clinic, I knew I was somewhere special!  Again the dog was whisked away and only after the dog was already receiving emergency care, did the amazingly compassionate staff ask me to fill out papers.  A very long night had really just begun, but I knew if she was to survive, this was the place to make it happen.   From the doctors to the caregivers, to the nurses and the reception staff,  all were outstanding without exception.  How about clean?  I'd put it up against any hospital in the Chicago Metro area, the North Shore or Northwest Suburbs and in fact, almost any hospital I have ever seen!  Organized and orderly -- they have it down to a science.  Want to sleep there while you find out how your pet is doing?  They gave me blankets to make me comfortable.  Are you thirsty?  Coffee, pop, water are all available and they'll run to get it for you too!  Want to visit with your pet?  No problem, the staff will even sit on the floor and snuggle with your animal to comfort them.

I experienced all of this between 10:30 PM and 4:30 AM when at last they felt she had stablized enough to make it into the early morning when the radiologist could do an ultra-sound of her abdomen to see what was really going on.  By this time they had already determined that she did not have a stroke, but rather had something in her gut rupture causing a massive bleed that led to her symptoms.  If surgery was to be performed, that ultra sound would hopefully show whether or not surgery was a good option at all and lucky for us it was. 

Last Thursday afternoon Penny had a tumor of her spleen (8" in diameter) removed along with her spleen.  Now that is one big tumor for a 25-lb. dog who now weighs considerably less.   She came through the surgery extremely well, was an excellent patient that everyone there loved, and is now happily at home recuperating and doing so well that if you saw her today and I failed to roll her over to show you the 8" incision on her tummy, you would never know she'd had a problem.  We're hoping for a favorable pathology report on her and that should be forthcoming shortly.  If it is a malignancy, well, of course, the Veterinary Speciality Clinic has oncologists she can visit.

For all those lucky homeowners and property owners in Chicago's North Shore and Northwest suburban areas or anyone in Northern Illinois whose pets are like so many today, a integral part of your loving family, this is truly the place to recall and remember if your pet ever needs exceptional medical care -- it is definitely worth the drive, even if you are not north or northwest!  So for those of you who live here already and those of you who may be moving here in the future, make a note of this place (which I discovered that night is also a 24/7/365 emergency pet care facility) with a 10++ rating in my estimation.  It's the place we can count on to repay the unconditional love that our pets give us so unselfishly every day!

If you would like more information about the Veterinary Speciality Clinic, they are located at 1515 Busch Parkway in Buffalo Grove.  Their phone number is 847-459-7535 or you can check them out on the web at