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A Place to Remember

When Maria Strine brought her female cat, Velcro, to the NC State Veterinary Hospital (VH) in 2012 to be treated for hyperthyroidism, it renewed her connection to the university where she had worked for five years earlier in her career. When Velcro fell ill she was determined to bring her to NC State because she had complete confidence in the care her cat would receive.

It was the following year, during a special promotional campaign being conducted at the time, that she first learned of the Walk of Honor on the campus of the hospital and the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). The Walk of Honor is actually a network of pathways paved with beautiful red bricks and larger concrete pavers, with many of the bricks bearing inscriptions memorializing pets, honoring dedicated veterinarians, or recognizing friends or family members. Most of them, though, pay brief homage to a beloved pet that has passed away.

Her thoughts quickly went to her three dogs, Hugs, Rennie, and Laces. Hugs had passed away in 2006, and Rennie and Laces had died just a month apart, in March and April of 2009. In short order she decided that she wanted them to be part of the Walk of Honor. The idea of having a place that she could visit where they would be remembered brought her a sense of comfort.

With that in mind, Maria ordered a brick with the inscription FOR OUR HUGS ‘06, FOR OUR RENNIE ‘09, FOR OUR LACES ‘09. It was placed in the main path leading to the Terry Center, the newer section of the hospital. After it was installed, Maria visited the campus to see it and know where it fits as a permanent part of the green expanse known as the hearth.

“Animals are like family members to their owners. Every one I’ve owned is like my child. I think it’s wonderful that my animals are with others who have been loved and honored by their owners.”

In fact, the ability to have a lasting memorial to her pets has led Maria, who is an unabashed animal lover, to have two additional bricks placed in the Walk of Honor.

The aforementioned Velcro eventually passed away in 2015, and to honor her there is a brick with the inscription “WE WILL MISS YOU VELCRO KITTY OUR BINKA.” Last year, another cat, Velcro’s sometime-buddy, sometime-antagonist Cosmo, also died. Soon there will be an additional brick added to the walk that reads “WE WILL MISS YOU COSMO KITTY OUR LITTLE MAN.” It will be placed right next to Velcro’s.

We’re glad to report that another dog, Bryce — a female shih tzu mix that Maria calls “Brycie” — is very much alive and a faithful companion to the Strines. Brycie is a an SPCA rescue dog and a very important member of the household. No more bricks, please.

As she read through some of the poignant messages, each in their own way a tribute to the loving bond between animals and people, she was moved by this visible, tangible, and lasting expression of deep relationship. “I just thought it was an awesome thing,” she says.

But Maria is happy to note that by memorializing her pets, she is also supporting the important work of the NC State Veterinary Hospital and College and Veterinary Medicine.

“I like the hospital, I like NC State, and I love animals,” she says. “Though there won’t be any more bricks any time soon, I still plan to continue with donating to the Vet School for their work in helping animals.”

How to Order: Adding a memorial brick to the Walk of Honor involves making a tax-deductible donation to the North Carolina Veterinary Foundation — $150 for a brick or $500 for an 18-inch stone paver — that will be used to support the teaching, healing and community service activities of the CVM. If you are interested in learning more about how to honor a friend, whether animal or human, please visit Walk of Honor page. 

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine