When a couple is engaged, friends and family are prone to shower them with gifts of kitchen tools and bath accessories for the newlyweds’ new life together. Sue and Donald Crow received a German Shepherd.

While a dog may be a non-traditional wedding gift, it sparked a 45-year love of animals for the couple. Throughout the course of their marriage, Sue and Donald have said goodbye to many of their beloved dogs and cats as the animals’ quality of life deteriorated due to age or illness. “There must be a better way,” Sue thought.

Sue has long been an advocate of using natural remedies in place of conventional medicine. A nurse herbalist by vocation, she taught integrative medicine at LSU Health in Shreveport. When her dog was diagnosed with anal cancer and the veterinarian suggested radiation, the herbalist knew she had to find an alternative.

“I would not do that to any animal,” Sue said. She took her dog, Hannah, to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, where, through Dr. Larry McCaskill’s treatment plan, she received acupuncture and Chinese medicine. “We were so blessed, because our little girl lived two more precious years because of this treatment,” Sue shared.

After this experience, the Crows saw a need for integrative medicine at the school. With support from the school’s administration, they created the Integrative Medicine Support Fund.

Through the fund, integrative medicine veterinarians from across the nation have spoken at the school. In 2013, Dr. Ronald Koh became the first integrative medicine veterinarian there. “Although his practice was slow to take off, it is now a thriving force at the vet school,” Sue shared. “We think he is the best LSU could have found!”

Integrative medicine is a healing-oriented approach that combines conventional medicine and alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, nutritional supplements, chiropractic and other holistic techniques. Integrative techniques rarely provide cures, but are excellent preventive and supportive tools for healing animals.

In 2014, the couple added support for the program to their will, through the Donald and Sue Crow Chair for Companion Animal Integrative Veterinary Medicine, to ensure therapeutic treatments for animals continue for years to come. When the gift is realized, it will be used to grow the integrative medicine department by recruiting faculty or visiting professors; providing funding for salary supplements, research and equipment; and educating veterinary students, residents, fellows and other faculty.

“We do this in loving memory of the many animals that have brought us love,” Sue shared. “We think they’re angels. They’re so full of grace and goodness and abundant love. They’ve been our children all our lives.”

After taking these children to the SVM for years, their commitment and dedication have only solidified. “That’s why we support LSU,” Sue said, “because of a great experience.”

Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2014.