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Truth's path

cynthiaFinding – and especially bonding with – a trusted advisor is not easily done these days. Stretched in many directions, people are frequently hurried and can be overwhelmed with responsibilities. So much so that it’s difficult to find the time to build the level of connections from which trust springs. Cynthia Suprenant offers a different perspective, though, when it comes to the relationship she has with her veterinarian, Dr. Jim Glendening ’70.

“Dr. Glendening is wonderful because veterinary medicine is not just a job for him,” said Cynthia, who owns two cats and two Golden Retrievers with her husband, Mike. “I can tell by the way he looks at every creature individually. He is also well-schooled, continues to stay abreast of the latest thinking in the profession, and doesn’t treat animals as people or as extensions of their owners. He treats them as the creatures they are and helps their owners understand that animals process life differently than people. They don’t anticipate the future. They live in the moment, so while a person can rationalize that taking medicine or enduring a painful procedure may lead to a better day tomorrow, an animal can’t. This advice has influenced when and how much I’m willing to ask my pets to endure.”

This intense level of trust inspired Cynthia to learn more about one of the organizations that Dr. Glendening trusted himself: Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. In the early 1990s, when Cynthia adopted Francine, a young cat who had contracted feline leukemia from her mother, she needed to know if it was safe to allow the kitten to mingle freely with the other cats in her family.

“I flew out to Cornell’s veterinary library and did some journal research,” Cynthia said, explaining that it was in the pre-Internet era. “When I finished my reading, I brought my notes in and talked it over with Dr. Glendening. I think I was his first client to be so invested in the science of vaccines and virus transmission. When Francine died at the age of three after a very happy and quite healthy life, he made a contribution to Cornell in her memory. I remember getting the notice of the gift and thinking that if this was something Dr. Glendening believed in, it was something I was going to support.”

That was in 1995 and began Cynthia’s relationship with the College. In 2001, another of Cynthia’s cats, Bumper, had a seizure. Convinced that cats are not subject to idiopathic epilepsy like dogs, Dr. Glendening referred Cynthia to Cornell

“I remember Dr. Glendening talking about Dr. de Lahunta, a preeminent veterinary neurologist at Cornell,” said Cynthia, who shared a videotape of Bumper having a seizure with Dr. de Lahunta. “Ultimately, I brought Bumpy out to the Companion Animal Hospital. It was quite an experience – the cat had an inoperable brain tumor, but he lived a happy and essentially seizure-free year on steroids until he died at the age of 15. Fortunately for all of us, Bumper was a great ‘car cat’: he’d roam my Suburban and end up purring on a heated seat for the 3.5-hour trips to Ithaca.”

More than a decade later, Cynthia still takes her pets to Dr. Glendening’s practice, Adirondack Animal Hospital, and has maintained her connection to Cornell with visits to the College’s animal hospital as needed and gifts to the Feline Health Center and most recently the annual fund, established to meet the College’s greatest needs as it works to advance the health and well-being of animals and people.