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On Being a Doctor |

The Geriatrician's Lab (Yellow)

David B. Reuben, MD
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From David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095.

Requests for Single Reprints: David B. Reuben, MD, Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, University of California, Los Angeles, 10945 Le Conte Avenue, Suite 2339, Los Angeles, CA 90095; e-mail, dreuben@mednet.ucla.edu.

Ann Intern Med. 2008;148(6):480-481. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-148-6-200803180-00011
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Every man has 5 dogs—so said Saul Bellow. Jenna was my fourth. I left my first 2 dogs, Sugar and Molly, when they were still in their prime. In Sugar's case, I moved out of state as a teenager and she was relocated to a farm in Missouri … or so I was told. Molly stayed with a former lover when I was asked to leave. Martha, my third dog, was the perfect canine. Indeed, she sparked a generation of my trainees and colleagues to adopt dogs. Mostly Labrador retriever, Martha had the right size, the right temperament, and the right mannerisms to set the standard for the species. Her exodus was remarkably gracious. To the age of 12, she maintained a pattern of daily jogging with my wife or me on 5-mile jaunts. Then she suddenly became ataxic, was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease, and died within a week. The entire course of her death was too short to generate any substantial preterminal funk. We paid the price later as gentle remarks from a colleague expressing condolences prompted tears in the hospital corridor.





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