Dr. Gary Stuer

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Yesterday morning I discovered the Facebook Post that appears below this commentary. Typically, it would never have occurred to Gary to email me about his appointment  as President of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association because he possesses a rare gift: deep humility.

I first met Gary when I took a dying rabbit to be euthanized just after he began practicing in Maine. When he injected her he explained to me that it would be 15 minutes before my beloved Midnight actually died,  What struck me forcibly was the way this stranger put his hands over her body. His loving gesture helped calm the rabbit and I felt his deep compassion flowing through my body too, easing my sorrow. I no longer recall our words but I remember leaving his office experiencing both grief and wonder over what I had just witnessed and participated in on a visceral level.

Gary was an Animal Healer.

A life long relationship was born and began to flourish.

Our friendship deepened over many years. I learned to trust Gary’s impeccable diagnostic skill, his willingness to work with me to identify problems, always listening so carefully to what I thought. He respected my judgment. When I dreamed that one of my animals was dying he understood immediately that this was one way I received information and took immediate action on the animal’s behalf.  When any of my dogs were operated on I was welcome in the operating room. I learned to trust Gary on a level that I had only previously experienced with my animals.

When my dog Star was dying Gary had just had open heart surgery and was unable to be present with us. She cried out when a colleague injected her and my last moments with this dog were spent in agony.  I had never felt so abandoned. But then Gary called me. He listened in silence as I wept uncontrollably and then he apologized for putting himself first, healing me with his words.

I can’t express how much these years of deep friendship have meant to me. But I know how much I miss him here in New Mexico… Last summer one of my dogs suddenly became desperately ill and ended up staying in a terrible clinic that I later made a formal complaint to the state about. Terrified and confused by the diagnosis I called Gary and he walked me through the indecipherable notes, told me what tests to request, checked blood work, and helped ease my panic. All this occurred long distance.

Gary heals both animals and their people. He saves lives and is capable of being emotionally present for both living and dying. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to have worked with this man of great integrity, honesty, deep compassion, and humility has been given a great gift.

It is often said that we cannot choose our parents. The same holds true for our children. Although there is but 16 years difference in ages between Gary and me, I have watched this man develop into a remarkable healer and a man I deeply respect. I am as PROUD of his accomplishments, as a mother would be for her son.

Gary is the son I never had.

That the animals I have had love him is no great surprise. I love him too.

 

Portland Veterinary Specialists (Portland, Maine) ·

PVS congratulates staff veterinarian, Dr. Gary Stuer, on his recent appointment as President of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association! This is an honor, but no surprise to anyone who knows him!

Dr. Gary Stuer graduated from Tufts Veterinary School in 1987, but feels that was just the beginning of his veterinary education. He has studied and integrated into his practice several complementary methods of treating patients. In 2004, he was certified in Veterinary Acupuncture by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) and completed Reiki Master Training. In 2014, he also completed IVAS certification in Chinese Herbal Medicine. He is also on the staff of Portland Veterinary Specialists, where he practices Integrative Medicine with a team of Board Certified Specialists.
Dr. Stuer knew from a very early age—around 9 years old—that he wanted to become a veterinarian. He was influenced early on in his life by a family cat that was hit by a car who completely recovered with extensive medical care. He also spent a lot of time around horses when he was growing up.
Dr. Stuer is originally from Lowell, MA and moved to Maine in 1994. He and his wife enjoy being part of their community, and they also enjoy hiking and snowshoeing with their Labrador Retriever. In warmer weather, they enjoy kayaking and paddle boarding. He also has two cats, neither of whom has expressed an interest in hiking or snowshoeing.
Dr. Stuer is inspired to offer patients and their people integrative care, combining Western medicine with Eastern influences, where each animal is treated as an individual. His medicine constantly evolves as he learns more from his patients every day. He loves what he does and he is honored to be a caregiver for his clients’ treasured animals.

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A Man Capable of Love

There is something about a man

who kneels to be on equal ground

to meet a five pound dog

that erases mountains of cultural baggage –

exposing male integrity

as well as a personal capacity to love.

Unconditional Love is the gift she offers him –

The ultimate gift of Hope.

He is the Receiver.

The two are One.

 

He is a man

who is capable of Love.

 

Her name is Hope.

She is so anxious

to make him her friend

that she wiggles uncontrollably

her eyes are dark all seeing pools,

her body knows…

She cannot be fooled.

A rough tongue laps his face

when he picks her up

to hold tenderly against his chest.

 

He is a man

who is capable of Love.

 

I witness this exchange

choking back tears in my throat

with a sense of wonder.

I experience inexplicable gratitude

towards him.

His name is David.

 

He is a man

who is capable of Love.

 

Men like this can break through

the wall

that the inequalities of gender

have erected over millennia.

Barriers that separate humans from each other,

from animals and plants,

from this precious Earth

can be erased in an instant

by compassionate behavior,

opening the door to equality.

 

Men who have the courage

to be fully human

engender my deepest respect,

even as they become models

for others to emulate.

 

 

David is a man

who is capable of Love.

Passages

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This morning I received news that the Director of the college I attended for both undergraduate and graduate work died peacefully yesterday.

 

Margo Macleod intimidated me as a student (and I was not young either) but I admired her honesty and integrity. She certainly appeared to be a stern presence; and as I remember her she was always dressed in black. But I also knew from Lise Weil, one of my feminist/writer professors, that Margo loved animals.

 

When graduation approached I arrived at Goddard with my little terrier, Star, who was my closest family member. No human family members would witness this most important graduation (As a matter of fact, this late entry into graduate work seemed to be something of a source of ridicule to my grown children. My mother simply dismissed my college work with a chilling silence.)

 

I am severely dyslexic with numbers and directions; I do everything backwards and navigating the daily world is an unbelievable challenge. I cannot open water bottles or doors; driving is almost an impossible nightmare, and using the computer, even today, continues to be a frightening experience, creating heart pounding anxiety the moment I attempt to do anything new with technology.

 

If it hadn’t been for Margo’s approval I wouldn’t have made it through my first semester at Goddard because I was terrified of the computer and submitted all required work by handwriting it.

 

In today’s mechanized world I am a total outsider.

 

My experience at Goddard with Margo at the helm, (including my work with Lise Weil whose cat essay motivated me to choose her as an advisor) helped me develop into the writer I have become.

 

When I arrived for my final graduation I discovered that Margo had given permission for Star and I to approach the podium together to receive my degree. Star was jubilant and barked excitedly when applause began, so the two of us walked up the isle, obtaining “our” diploma together!

 

What other school official would sanction such a partnership?

 

I will remain indebted to Margo Macleod for the rest of my life for this act of unbelievable generosity.

 

Something of Margo’s warm – hearted animal spirit will live on through me until I die.

 

Thank you Margo.

 

May the animals you so loved be with you on this next stage of your journey.

 

Postscript: I chose my favorite desert primrose that is blooming with such abandon around my friend Iren’s doorstep as the photo include with this narrative. This flower has no stem and blooms out of a rosette that appears on the desert floor. Oddly, just after I picked out this photo a single white lily bud opened on the table next to me, intoxicating me with her scent as if she too was commenting on Margo’s passing. Flowers, of course, communicate with other species through scent. Seconds later a white winged dove began to coo wildly outside my window.