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The ‘True Gift’ of an Unexpected Bond

Coastal-dwellers Sid Bragg and Jackie Jaloszynski and their bichon frise pups go together like surf and sand. They were just meant to be together. 

The husband and wife from Morehead City have owned three of the little dogs — most recently Winston and Lukus. Jaloszynski calls them their fur babies and describes Winston and Lukus, who were born only eight months apart, as brothers. They were inseparable for years.

Time began to catch up with Winston, though, who was diabetic. He dealt with a variety of ailments, eventually dying from pancreatic cancer last March. 

Jaloszynski says Lukus experienced extreme separation anxiety when Winston died. Not long afterward, he developed ventricular tachycardia — a serious heart arrhythmia. That’s when Lukus and the couple began to develop a special bond with Anna McManamey, a cardiology resident at the NC State Veterinary Hospital. Jaloszynski and Bragg call her “Dr. Mac.”

After speaking with McManamey on the phone, Jaloszynski and Bragg drove the three-plus hours to the hospital’s emergency room. 

“Dr. Mac gave up her weekend off, met us at the ER to help care for Lukus and kept this up until he was thankfully discharged a few days later,” says Jaloszynski.  

Over the next eight months, Lukus’ condition resulted in numerous trips back to the cardiology service. McManamey was a constant source of care and support that Lukus and his dog parents could always count on. 

The bond between Bragg, Jaloszynski and Lukus’ care team grew stronger as time went by.

“Dr. Mac is not only an excellent cardiologist, but the most compassionate, caring, kind person we would have the privilege of getting to know,” says Jaloszynski.

McManamey Coat of Excellence

(From left): Sid Bragg, Anna McManamey and Jackie Jaloszynski. Photo by John Joyner/NC State Veterinary Medicine

The cardiology team, Lukus’ dog parents and Lukus became a team reinforcing one another with a combination of skill and nurturing. Ultimately, there was not the outcome that all had hoped for, but throughout the ups and downs of their odyssey together, lasting connections had been forged. 

After their extraordinary journey together, Bragg and Jaloszynski felt moved to honor the special place that McManamey has in their lives. They decided to present her with a Coat of Excellence.

The Coat of Excellence recognition program gives clients a special way to honor a caregiver who has touched their lives in a special way. A tax-deductible gift to the NC State Veterinary Medical Foundation enables the giver to present an honoree with a white laboratory coat embroidered with the clinician’s name along the pet’s name. This donation supports the veterinary hospital’s continuing efforts to provide the same standard of exceptional care to other animals and their human companions. 

At the recent ceremony, Bragg and Jaloszynski formally presented the coat to McManamey, 

“The best way to describe Lukus is by his name, which stands for ‘lucky us,’ for we certainly were the lucky ones to have him as a part of our lives,” said Jaloszynski at the ceremony. “And without a doubt, we were the lucky ones to have had Dr. Mac as his cardiologist.”

 Accordingly, the red embroidered inscription on her white coat reads “Dr. Anna McManamey” on the left side and, “The Lucky Us Coat of Excellence” on the right. To Bragg and Jaloszynski, that says it all.

“Dr. Mac will never know how much her actions meant to Sid and me,” says Jaloszynski. “Her presence, compassion and passion are a true gift.”

 For more information on the Coat of Excellence program, call 919-513-6660.

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine