â€œMassive, uninvited changeâ€ is a phrase attorney, author and proud dog-owner Doug Koktavy would use to describe his book, â€œThe Legacy of Beezer and Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from my Canine Brothers.â€
The Argus Institute will host Koktavyâ€™s â€œAnimal Teacher, Human Studentâ€ talk at CSUâ€™s Veterinary Teaching Hospital tonight at 7 p.m. for which Koktavy will reflect on the lessons he learned through coping with the death of two of his dogs. This is something he says taught him about â€œliving through dying.â€
The talk allows Koktavy to not only give back to people through his lessons but also give support to animal resources.
Fifty percent of all proceeds from the book sales tonight will go to the Argus Institute.
Koktavyâ€™s story begins when his 9-year-old Labrador Retriever, Beezer, was diagnosed with kidney disease.
He was given 90 days to live.
Koktavy was devastated at the thought of losing his best friend, and despite every measure he took to keep Beezer alive, the dogâ€™s fate was inevitable.
Koktavy said fear and guilt were overwhelming emotions that took over his life at that point.
â€œGuilt was keeping me in the past over things I could have done to ensure Beezerâ€™s health,â€ he said. â€œAnd fear was keeping me in the future over the thought of the day Beezer would leave me.â€
Koktavy correlated his fear with a concept called â€œanticipatory grief,â€ or the grief people feel in anticipation of a known upsetting loss.
â€œItâ€™s not limited to dogs; it is the same emotion a person feels when they are scared of losing their job, or their personal relationship is coming to an end,â€ Koktavy said.
Jane Shaw, director of the Argus Institute, first met Koktavy when Beezer was initially diagnosed. Shaw said Koktavy came in with a full â€œbattle planâ€ on how to fight the disease.
â€œHe pulled together as many resources and research as he possibly could. Being a lawyer and a hockey player, I think he had this idea that if he worked hard enough he could work through anything,â€ Shaw said.
That was until, Shaw said, Koktavyâ€™s own health began to suffer and forced him to reevaluate his life.
The canine philosopher then came to an astute realization: The disease was the â€œdestroyer of todayâ€ and was accomplishing its destruction through the debilitating sense of guilt and the â€œanticipatory griefâ€ of fear.
Shaw said that Koktavy realized if he could just be present, he and his dog could do this together with â€œgrace and dignity.â€
Koktavy would be faced with this unbearable challenge yet again when his second beloved dog Boomer became sick with bone cancer. This time, however, Koktavy had a â€œrunning startâ€ and was able to instill the lessons he learned from Beezer.
â€œWhat better animal to teach us the lesson of living in the present than a dog?â€ Koktavy asked. â€œIn life, pain is mandatory, but suffering is optional. You think the way you feel.â€
Koktavyâ€™s event will be in the Animal Cancer Center in Room 120. The hospital, located on 300 W. Drake Road, will host a dessert reception and book signing will take place at 8 p.m.
Staff writer Elizabeth Drolet can be reached at email@example.com.
Attend the Event
What: â€œAnimal Teacher, Human Studentâ€ talk
Who: Doug Koktavy
Time: 7 p.m
Location: CSUâ€™s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, 300 W. Drake Road (Animal Cancer Center, Rm 120)
For more information: www.beezerandboomer.com