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Boom!!! And they’re off!

BOOM!!  The Spirit of '02, Texas A&M's cannon, roared to life signaling the start of the Paws to the Pavement BTHO Cancer 3k/5k run and dog walk.  Excitement filled the air as dogs and humans lit off on their paths.  Well, almost everyone got started.  The unexpected cannon fire startled more than a few of our furry friends.  They responded with a chorus of barks, howls, and whimpers.  Have you ever seen a Great Dane cower?  I have now.  The biggest dog at the event stood in between his owner's legs, shivering uncontrollably, and looking to his owner for help.  On the other hand, a tiny Yorkie was trying to pick a fight with Vonn the pit bull.  (More on Vonn later.)  Oh the conundrums of the animal kingdom. 

The event marked the opening of the state-of-the-art Diagnostic Imaging & Cancer Treatment Center at Texas A&M's Veterinary Teaching Hospital.  Combined with Texas A&M's other assets, our hospitals will have unparalleled diagnostic imaging capabilities.  The new center features a 3 Tesla MRI unit, a 40 slice CT machine, and a Tomotherapy unit.  What does all that mean?  Only the top of the line human hospitals use 3 Tesla MRI machines for diagnostic purposes.  A 40 slice CT machine images a patient in a fraction of the time with 10x the imaging power of the 4 slice machine that had been in use.  The Tomotherapy unit treats disease processes that were previous untreatable or too dangerous.  I have long said in these blogs that Texas A&M's veterinary hospitals can do things no one else can do.  This center raises that bar significantly higher. 

The center doesn't just mean that Fluffy and Rufus can have better treatment.  The advancements will soon lead to breakthroughs in human treatments as well.  One such example is the correlation between dog brain tumors and pediatric brain tumors.  As we figure out how to better treat man's best friend's brain cancer, we can almost instantaneously treat man's children.  These are big league advancements with big league stakes.  Don't let anyone tell you veterinary medicine is only about treating animals. 

Back to the event. Of course the usual dignitaries were there as well.   Not only did the regal Reveille VIII attend the ribbon cutting, but the retired Reveille VII came to check out the new facility as well.  All told, there were about 250 dogs and 300 humans, including countless cancer survivors.  Several of the Texas A&M Board of Regents members and President R. Bowen Loftin also attended.  (If you don't know President Loftin, he is the classy, bow tie wearing gentleman that is leading Texas A&M through many changes including our impending move to the SEC Athletic Conference.)  Even with all of that brass, one special attendee stood out.  His name is Vonn. 

Vonn and his mother were discovered a couple of weeks ago by a concerned citizen.  Both pit bulls were severely injured and burned with evidence of abuse.  The good Samaritan took the dogs to a local veterinary clinic.  The attending veterinarian soon realized that Vonn's injuries were too severe to treat alone.  So Texas A&M's Small Animal Hospital was enlisted to help Vonn.  Vonn has been making a fast and amazing recovery.  Vonn was doing so well, that he was allowed to attend and participate in the BTHO cancer walk.  Vonn knew he was the star as he trotted around and met all the other participants and received lots of love from the humans, except for that one Yorkie.   

Vonn's name, literally meaning Viking warrior, is a perfect fit for this cute little rascal.  Adding to the appropriateness, Texas A&M football's own Vonn Miller is now tearing through his rookie year in the NFL.  As we say in Aggieland, if it happens twice, it's tradition.  Well, looks like Vonn now enters the ranks of Aggie folklore.  I feel the new Imaging Center will produce some of their own stories in the very near future. 

Thanks and Gig'em,