Gilbert PT - April 2019

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April 2019

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NITTANY LION AND CLIMBER WILLIAM GILBERT: My 2 (Furry) Children

I’ve always self-identified as a total dog person. Growing up, I would spend hours playing in the sun with my family’s black Labrador retrievers and beagles. It only made sense that when I grew up and had a family of my own, I’d make sure we filled our home with the happy, playful energy that can only come from a dog. Enter Nittany. Nittany, or Nittany Lion Gilbert — named after Penn State’s mascot — was our first baby. We got him several years before Emily and Alex were born. I remember driving to a farm to pick him up. He was the cutest little yellow fluffball either of us had ever seen! We laid some blankets down in a laundry basket and placed him inside so he could have a comfortable place to sleep on the drive home. If you’ve ever had a puppy yourself, then you know their adorable stage is short-lived. In under a year, he had grown into a 100-pound lab that looked more like a bear than a dog. But no matter how big he grew, he stayed a playful, sweet dog. Even when the kids were small, he let them hang all over him. “Instead of chasing his beloved tennis ball or splashing in the water, Nittany spends a great portion of his days trying to will our family cat, Climber William, off his dog bed.”

fetch for hours on end. Now that he is nearly 11 and has torn both of his ACLs, he’s not as active, but in spite of this, he’s still immensely valuable to our family. Now, instead of chasing his beloved tennis ball or splashing in the water, Nittany spends a great portion of his days trying to will our family cat, Climber William, off his dog bed. Though I grew up a dedicated dog lover, my wife grew up with cats. For the longest time, she wanted to get a kitten to pair with Nittany, but I fought tooth and nail against the idea. I think I even claimed to have allergies as an excuse a fair share of the time. Then, a little over three years ago, I finally gave in — and I’m glad I did. We ventured to a local shelter, and my wife picked out a grey cat with white socks that apparently looked just like a cat she had in her childhood. We learned that the cat’s name was Climber. We never learned the actual origin of his name, but the second

we let him out of the car, he immediately climbed up our wooden window panes. Once we coerced him inside, his climbing energy seemed to dissipate, and he morphed into this prim and proper royal gentleman who stole the dog’s bed every chance he got. He thinks he rules the house. We added “William” after his royal tendencies started to occur. We’ve decided his moniker fits him quite well. While it took a week or two (and lots of hissing and chasing) for Nittany and Climber William to befriend each other, they now get along fairly well. All my life, I’ve found that pets (now dogs and cats) bring such joy and positivity to a home and to all who live there, and I know I speak for my entire family when I say that Nittany and Climber are the best around.

–Dr. Gilbert

For years, he went with us on our family hikes, swam with us in rivers and lakes, and played

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