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Caring at heart of veterinarian’s practice


As my husband and I sat in the waiting room of Animal Hospital of Warwick in Jamison with our two old dogs, one 16, the other 17, I thought about how hard the long goodbye can be, and yet how grateful I am to have had all these years with them.

Nothing makes me feel more contented on a cold Sunday afternoon in February than to sit by the fireplace, hearing my dogs snore, asleep side by side on the hearth. When they go, the hole they leave will be enormous.

Dr. Christina Knight has a special way with senior citizen pups. She understands when we tell her our appointment is only for one dog, but we couldn’t leave the other home alone without his best buddy. When she talks to the dogs, she is kind without being condescending, a nice quality in a doctor whether a doctor for humans or animals.

I ask if she always wanted to be a veterinarian. “A veterinarian or a ballerina,” she says. “Luckily, I’m too short to be a ballerina.”

Dr. Knight graduated from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1992 and moved to Bucks County. She has continued her education through yearly attendance at exotic and small animal conferences.

She has a special interest in exotic species. “I see birds, including chickens and ducks, non-venomous reptiles, amphibians, rodents, rabbits and other small mammals.”

My husband has chickens. One of them, Cinnamon, was given to him by a friend when his flock turned on her and pecked one of her eyes out. Understandably, Cinnamon isn’t too keen on roommates. She has her own pen, and when she is free to wander, she follows my husband around everywhere like a puppy. I half expect to find her in our bed on cold nights.

Seeking treatment for Cinnamon is how we found Dr. Knight. It’s easy enough to find a vet for your dog or cat, but somewhat more difficult to find one when your chicken is losing feathers.

Dr. Knight has been practicing at the Animal Hospital of Warwick since 1997.

She was a pet sitter in high school and a room assistant at a veterinary clinic. Later at college and during veterinary school, she worked in barns, as assistant in an anatomy lab, in a sterile supply preparation for a surgery department, as a wildlife rehabilitator, at a carnivore preservation/breeding trust working with tigers, leopards, and other exotic cats, and at a preceptorship with the Philadelphia Zoo.

She has her own crew at home, three cats, a beagle, a frequently visiting Australian Healer, a red foot tortoise, a bearded dragon, nine finches, and a dove who lives outside. In the past, she has also had chickens, ducks, a rabbit, a guinea pig, rats, a milk snake, and a tarantula her son brought home.

What’s the best part of being a vet? “Well, I love animals and solving problems. I’m a caregiver by nature and enjoy helping my human clients become more educated about how to care for their pets and give them the best possible care.”

The downside, she says, is “having to make choices about care based on a client’s limited financial situation.” This statement resonates in an age when you can buy your dog a new kidney if you can afford $13,000.

“It’s always hard in the cases where we cannot resolve the problem,” Dr. Knight says.

Our pets are buried on a hill by our house. One is a fawn my son found near death and named Henry, and when the fawn died soon after he was found, my son made a cross and wrote on it with a Sharpie, “Henry, you will always be in our hearts.”

One day a few weeks later, he managed to talk his grandmother into “just looking” at dogs. He called me at work and asked if he could bring a puppy home. I pointed out that we already had five dogs. And a cat.

“But this dog has Henry’s eyes,” he said.

I agreed to go look at her. He was right about the eyes, so by the end of the day, we had six dogs, instead of five.

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