A Hero Fallen

Dr. Sophia Yin was my hero.

I first learned who she was as a veterinary assistant reading her Low Stress handling book. What a revelation! You mean we didn’t have to scruff every cat? Animals could actually be *happy* at the veterinary clinic?

During an internship with Dr. Jim Wilson, I realized not only did he know her, but that as a plucky veterinary student he had helped her publish her first book (The Nerdbook).

In my heart she was a mythical heroine, a motivated woman who didn’t wait for people to give her permission, who moved forward and made things happen.

She showed me for the first time that a single veterinarian could change the world.

I met her at AAHA Phoenix after one of her lectures. When I thanked her, and explained that her recommendations helped our staff stay safe on the job, she got so excited. That was what she wanted more practice managers and owners to understand, that low stress handling isn’t just about keeping patients happy; it is safer and less expensive in the long run than fearful, forcible handling.

She asked me to send her a video testimonial to that effect, and I did. I was so excited to help my hero.

Learning that she laid down their life has not only been heartbreaking, but also terrifying.

I won’t pretend to know what was going on in Dr. Yin’s life, what she was struggling with, or how long she had been struggling. My heart aches for whatever it was she was going through.

But, her death made me think of the pain we open ourselves up to when we chose to care.

When we choose to make a difference, to fight to live the life we want, to make our dream world a reality, we open ourselves up to hurt.

Changing things is hard, long, exhausting struggle. Finding the right answers takes a long time. Getting our message to the right ears, to enough ears, can feel so daunting. Often the impact we make goes unnoticed and often unrewarded.

Even in daily practice it is sometimes hard to feel like I’ve done “enough” because there is always more to do.

What has helped me stay grounded through that struggle is knowing I’m not alone. My friends and family, fellow veterinarians, who believe in me and share my struggles keep me going.

The power of even a single thank you, the vet person who tells me I inspired them, helps fuels the light that keeps me moving ahead.

For all of her pain and for all the gifts Dr. Yin had yet to give to the world, I grieve.

I will do my best to pay forward the inspiration she unknowingly gave me.

Changing the world begins with acting as if you can change it. What keeps you going is when others believe you can change the world.

Never stop fighting to make a difference and give all the support you can to the friends fighting beside you.

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