Embracing Tikkun Olam as Part of Your Life
Cheryl D. Good, DVM
Dearborn Family Pet Care, Dearborn, Michigan, &
Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter
Taking care of animals, and giving back to my community, has been a part of my life since I was a young child. My parents instilled in me the value of tikkun olam, a Hebrew phrase that means repairing the world. This concept was implemented on an individual level by donating money to charities—in particular, local and international charities—to help people in need.
I started by putting pennies in our tzedakah box at home when I was young and my parents donated the coins for me. Tzedakah means justice or righteousness, as in an obligation to do what is right. As I grew into adulthood, I continued to help others in both my community and abroad by donating money, goods, or services whenever possible.
HELPING THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
We as veterinarians are in a unique position to give back to our communities by donating our time, expertise, and money to help homeless animals as well as educate people in proper animal husbandry and health care. I had the opportunity to become involved with my local animal shelter early on in my veterinary career as one of the “founding mothers” of Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter.
Our group transformed the shelter from a city pound to a well-run, caring shelter that typically finds homes for close to 100% of its adoptable animals. We are working toward building a new, “green,” state-of-the-art animal adoption and education center. Now, as the medical director for Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter, I work with them to ensure that the animals receive the best care and that the community is properly educated about adoption and animal wellness.
The value of tikkun olam affects other areas of my life as well: My own veterinary hospital takes in special needs and homeless dogs and cats and assists in finding new homes for them. In addition, I enjoy teaching pet first aid classes, volunteering with the local Safety Town program to teach pet safety to youngsters, speaking to all ages in school settings about the veterinary field, instructing our local fire department on proper use of oxygen masks and pet resuscitation, and assisting with classes on animal abuse and neglect offered at the NAVC Conference in years past.
LEARNING AROUND THE WORLD
When I was a young child, James Herriot’s series of books had a tremendous impact on me. I dreamed about working as a veterinarian, taking care of all kinds of animals. I also dreamed of working with exotic large animals around the world.
As an adult, I love to travel, especially to other countries, including Israel, Poland, Canada, Italy, Greece, England, France, and many Western and Eastern Caribbean islands. In other countries, I try to interact with local people and learn about their culture, especially how they interact with their pets.
The country I most recently visited was Poland, where I spent some time with a small animal veterinarian in her tiny, two-room private practice in Wroclaw. I have also visited a friend in a small village on the island of Kefalonia, Greece. Her mother was taking care of a very large group of outdoor cats that had chronic upper respiratory tract disease. It was both interesting and heartwarming to see the loving care that went into trying to help these sweet cats, and it reminded me of my many clients in Michigan who are doing the same.
PARTNERING WITH INTERNATIONAL GROUPS
I have always looked at my community as a part of a larger, more global community, which is why I am drawn to the NAVC and truly appreciate their involvement with global veterinary health care.
The NAVC’s mission statement—to provide world-class continuing professional development for the global veterinary health care community—is inspiring. I am excited to be part of this organization and am motivated to become even more involved with the many international groups that partner with the NAVC.
We should all strive to repair the world by education and involvement with both our local and global communities.
—Cheryl D. Good, DVM
Director, NAVC Board of Directors