In the past I have written many of my columns from the perspective of a professional, be it my vocation as a veterinarian, a scientist or a photographer. Other times I have written about the many things that perk my interest, such as philosophy, history, current affairs, zoology, art, flying and many others. But today I am going to be a pet owner. I have many loyal clients who have been with me for a decade or more and I have seen their pets through to the day they died. When that fateful day does occur, I get many surprising responses from those owners. Instead of feeling bad for themselves, they pity me, knowing I have to face these sad situations on such a regular basis. They ask how long it took to develop such a tough exterior to handle these emotional events, and I can only answer that I haven't. My status as a pet owner takes precedence over my job as a veterinarian, and it is this setting of my priorities that has helped me develop understanding and empathy towards my clients, also pet owners. I am going to present to you a side of me that isn't professional, just raw passion, I the pet owner. I am not sure if I can summarise a life in a short column but I will try to express to you the feelings I felt sharing my life with my first dog and when this beloved pet died from cancer during my studies to become a veterinarian. His name was Indiana, Indy for short; he was a Pomeranian who shared life with me for 17 years. In all those years he was my constant companion, giving me his unconditional love, and the day that he died was one of the unhappiest of my life. To this day I feel that deep pain in my heart when I think back to that day when he took his last breath and winked out of existence. We did everything together; I can't remember a moment of my childhood without Indy in the picture, following me around. Even when I was immobile, watching TV or playing on a computer, he would get bored, circle the floor a few times and then curl up next to me. He always made sure that some part of him was touching me, and I think he was comforted by that contact. We even went on holidays together. Our family wasn't wealthy enough to fly anywhere exotic, so most were driving holidays, and we would sneak Indy up into the motel room, where we would share a bed. Fortunately he was a quiet dog and, being quite small, was easy to conceal. He had seen me through many tough times like my father's death, my university entrance exams and my veterinary exams. He was always there to comfort me when I was ill. He was forever happy to be with me and vice versa. His tail had a mind and motor of its own and was constantly wagging, expressing his eagerness for my attention. I would look forward to him barking through the front door when I came home from school. He was always pleased to see me and I was always pleased to see him. Even my best friend, partner or family was not always glad to see me, but with Indy it was an unrelenting happiness that was contagious, and simply the sight of him would make me quickly forget about the bad day I had had. If my friends wanted to hang out with me, it was unspoken that it would involve Indy. It would seem Indy touched all those he met. It was amazing the feelings this little dog brought out from my friends, which spoke volumes about his personality. He was not a normal, regular dog; there will never be another like him. I have owned many, many more animals since but none that have touched me the way Indy did. Even though his death is an unhappy memory, it will always be overshadowed by the joy his life brought into mine. He had just had his 17th birthday when I discovered a lump behind his knees that turned out to be an enlarged lymph node. I took him to the local vet, whom I had work experience with, and he took a biopsy and diagnosed Indy with a white-blood-cell tumour. He was still very active at the time and I didn't want him to die, so despite the expense I took all my savings to see a specialist, who started him on a new and experimental chemotherapy protocol. It was successful in the beginning and the lymph nodes shrank, but after seven months of therapy Indy had trouble walking - the tumour had spread to his spine. Indy was soiling himself badly and would whine in pain and frustration, and that was when I decided to give him the dignity he deserved, and we put Indy to sleep. Since then I have developed an intense interest in oncology, the study of cancer. Our clinic stocks many chemotherapy agents and I have even given a lecture at Peking University on canine cancer surgery. I have devoted my life to trying to the best of my ability to save dogs and cats from the ravages of cancer. So here is my salute to the memory of a dog - a very special dog.