On the hardest day of Jimmy Barnes’ life… the VSOS team was there

Hardest Day Of Jimmy Barnes

“I think it’s time, Jimmy.”

These were the words that iconic Australian rock legend Jimmy Barnes had been dreading for 15 years.

They came from Dr Karina Graham – a specialist in small animal medicine at Veterinary Specialists of Sydney (VSOS) – who was like family to Jimmy ever since she became the primary vet specialist for his two beloved 15-year-old miniature schnauzers – Snoop Dog and Oliver Twist.

Jimmy had seen Karina and the VSOS team treat every pet that they care for as if it were their own. So, when Jimmy had to decide when to say goodbye to his beloved family pets – or as he puts it – his “best friends”, he knew he could trust the VSOS team.

“These days were the hardest of my life,” says Jimmy.

“Karina and I sat together and we spoke about it for a long time. We held hands and she said, ‘I think it’s time, Jimmy,’ and I started crying. I looked up and Karina was crying as much as I was. She really cared for my boys so much.

Karina helped my dogs leave this world in the most beautiful way possible. It still broke my heart, but Karina reassured me that this was the perfect time and the perfect way to do it. And I know that my dogs didn’t suffer at all.

I’m never going to get over losing them… but the hardest days of my life when each of my boys left me were made a bit easier by Karina.”

Only the very best pet care

Famously known as the tough and uncompromising front man for ARIA Hall of Fame inductees Cold Chisel, Jimmy Barnes is also a loving and dedicated pet owner.

“These dogs, they were literally like our kids,” Jimmy recalls.

“They were with me through thick and thin. I wrote books with Oliver. I wrote songs with Oliver sitting on my lap. When I had open heart surgery, Oliver lay on my bed and guarded me and tried to bite people if they came near me.”

With such a strong bond, Jimmy wanted the very best pet care for his two dogs.

And after a chance encounter one day with Karina and seeing her dedication and passion for other people’s pets, he decided that she and her team would be the only ones to make medical decisions for his beloved miniature schnauzers, going forward.

“Karina and all of the vet nurses and vet specialists at VSOS have such incredible empathy. Empathy for the dog owners, empathy for what the dogs themselves were going through… and the amount of care she took was on a higher level than I had ever seen before.

And so Karina became our go-to person for Snoopy and Oliver. We decided then that wherever Karina went we would go, too.”

Trusted Relationship

A trusted relationship between pet owner and vet specialist

Like their owner, Snoopy and Oliver rarely sat still… living active and energetic lives for many years.

But as the dogs grew older, Jimmy began noticing behavioural changes in them. One day things got so bad that they simply couldn’t be ignored.

“I’d just gotten back from a tour in England and normally I’d walk in the door and Oliver would run to me, barking and howling,” says Jimmy.

“But that day I got home, he didn’t move. I knew something was wrong. I found him lying on his bed and he couldn’t lift his head.”

Knowing he’d find it near impossible to make the gut-wrenching decision of when to say goodbye on his own, Jimmy and Karina had previously made a pact.

“I trusted Karina so much. I told her that the day when my dogs were suffering more than they were enjoying life, she should tell me… then we would talk about the next step.”

An incredibly compassionate, warm and thoughtful vet specialist

Sitting in his living room in the Southern Highlands, Jimmy and the VSOS team had created a makeshift animal hospital for Oliver’s final moments.

Taking every care possible to comfort Jimmy and his family, Karina informed Jimmy as empathetically as possible that Oliver’s kidneys had failed and his blood was thinning.

Remembering their pact together, Karina knew what had to be done for Oliver’s sake.

“I held Oliver in my arms and I looked into his eyes. Karina gave him a sedative in his drip and he gently slipped away,” says Jimmy.

“I was a complete mess, but Karina was there for us in every way. She was so compassionate, incredibly warm and really thoughtful and caring of the dogs right to the very end.”

Both Snoopy and Oliver passed away within six months of each other, bringing an end to what had been a lifetime bond that this rock star will never forget.

“When my two dogs passed, I wrapped them in blankets and gave them to Karina. She brought back their ashes in these beautiful little boxes with their names on them, along with their collars. I have them sitting on my mantelpiece and I speak to them every night.”

It could be easy to say that Jimmy was receiving the rock star treatment… but the entire VSOS team makes every owner feel famous by giving their beloved pets the world-class care they deserve.

“Karina wasn’t just our vet; she became our friend. And that’s just because she cared so much,” says Jimmy.


Patient stories

“Karina, and all of the vet nurses and vet specialists at VSOS, have such incredible empathy."
On the hardest day of Jimmy Barnes' life, the VSOS team was there.

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