Peace, Love & Paws

Animal Hospital of Sullivan County Turns 70, and Our Sullivan Catskills Dove Is Revealed

Let’s take a quick look back at 1953. A brief internet search turns up the following: The U.S. and Korea signed an armistice, ending the Korean War. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay climbed Mt. Everest. Rye bread was 29 cents a loaf. You could get a four-bedroom house in Morristown, NJ for just under $13,000. And Stanley Glick—fresh from his service as a Captain in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps—opened a veterinary practice with his wife Grete in Ferndale, NY. It’s the very practice we have today. And because both my husband and I are military veterans—like Dr. Glick—we feel that we’ve come full circle. It’s been a wonderful journey for me, which began in Eden, Ohio. I always knew that I wanted to be a veterinarian. I joined the Army reserves in 1988 to help pay for my education at the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine. I was also on active duty as a medic during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I met my husband Jack while serving. A self-described “Army brat,” he hails from Trenton, NJ, and had seen action as a medic in Iraq and Kuwait. Afterward, we worked together in Virginia and got married.

I graduated from college in 1993, and worked for a time in Columbus, Ohio before settling in New Jersey and working in a multi-doctor practice. But I had a desire to have my own place. When we made financial inquiries in New Jersey, the banks pretty much laughed at us. That’s when I began seeking out practices for sale. Which, of course, brought me to Ferndale. I fell in love with this place in the mountains. I just knew this was it. But when I told Jack, his response was less than enthusiastic. “Ferndale? I don’t want to go up there—I want to go south!” But we bought the practice anyway from Dr. Allen Wachter in 2001. And today, Jack loves it here…as does our daughter Kaitlyn, who plans on becoming a veterinarian herself. Because we’ve been so openly welcomed by the community these past 22 years, we’re always looking for a way to give back. This is part of the reason we purchased one of the Sullivan County Doves.

According, “The Sullivan Catskills Dove Trail © honors the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival and celebrates its impact on our Sullivan Catskills. It’s a collection of 60+ dove sculptures perched in villages, towns, and at several tourism businesses. Each permanently-mounted dove is hand-painted by a professional local artist and inspired by the legendary event held here in 1969.” When we heard that ten new doves were to be added to the trail in 2023, we jumped at the chance to get one. Once our purchase was secure, we began asking around about local artists. One name kept coming up: Kim Simons. When we got in touch with Kim, we learned that she was an artist, food artist, and cake artist who had competed on a number of Food Network shows, winning both Cake Wars: Star Wars (2016) and Holiday Wars (2019). She was also no stranger to painting Sullivan Catskills Doves. Of the 60 that were in existence at the time, she’d painted eight-and-a-half of them (With the two she’s painted this year, including ours, she’s up to ten-and-a-half of the soon-to-be 70.) She was a perfect fit for us. We told Kim that my practice centers on dogs, cats, birds, and furry little pocket pets.

We also talked over Warrior Companion, a nonprofit organization founded by my husband to provide pet insurance for the service animals of disabled veterans. Just being around the animals in my practice helps Jack with his PTSD, so you can imagine what a help a Warrior Companion would be. We let Kim take the design from there. When the dove was revealed at my practice on June 17, everyone was wowed by what they saw. Among other things, she’d reproduced the Warrior Companion logo perfectly…by hand! But when we heard the stories behind some of the animal portraits Kim had crafted, we were wowed even more. Our dove tells an in-depth story, laced with meaning.

To begin with, the featured green parakeet is Billy, who belonged to Kim’s late grandmother. Kim loves to tell the story about how her grandmother thought Billy had been replaced…after her cataract surgery. It was only then that she could see how beautiful Billy really was. Then there’s the hedgehog. Kim has a good friend named Donna Sue, who’ll rescue any hedgehog any time. One of Kim’s first professional cakes was baked for Donna Sue’s organization.

Though Kim is allergic to cats and ferrets, she once rescued a mother and six kittens who had somehow gotten trapped in her apartment walls. They all went to good homes, and our dove features a cat in their honor. Then, at the center of the dove, is a painting of Tootsie, a real-life beagle mix owned by Joyce Salimeno-Gitlin. Tootsie is a rescue from the Sullivan County SPCA in Rock Hill, NY and is living her best life today. Framing Tootsie on her left and right are portraits of Jasmine and Milo, real-life dogs owned by Yvonne and Jim Housman. Jasmine is a pure Maltese (and mother to Kim’s pup Ozzy), while Milo is a mix of Maltese and Jack Russell. But what’s amazing about Jasmine is her connection to Yvonne and Jim’s son Devin, who unexpectedly passed away on June 6, 2020 at the age of only 22. Devin’s loss was obviously a shock to the Housman family.

In order to keep his memory alive, they started the Devin Michael Housman Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded annually to one graduating student from a high school in Orange County and one graduating student from a high school in Sullivan County. The students—like Devin—have special education classifications, and intend to pursue a career in the arts. The students also—like Devin—have displayed kindness to others. The family is also lobbying for the passing of Devin’s Law, which would allow advocates for people with special needs to access healthcare facilities no matter what the protocols, ensuring proper care.

The story behind Jasmine is a touching one. When introduced to her as a puppy following Devin’s death, the Housmans were genuinely drawn to her. It was only after they’d brought her home to live with them that they discovered the date of her birth: June 6, 2020. The very day Devin had passed. They believe that Jasmine was sent to them by Devin, and have a special connection to her as a result. When we heard these stories, we knew that our Sullivan Catskill Dove was a very special one. We’re honored to feature animal companions who mean so much to their families, and are grateful to be sharing our dove with those who seek it out to visit. Our dove very much represents our philosophy. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate a 70th anniversary.

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