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From Aggieland and Back Again After graduating from Texas A&M with a degree in accounting in 1974, Jim moved to Fort Worth to work for Arthur Andersen. There he met and married Debra before sweeping her off to El Paso in 1984, where he became CFO of Farah Incorporated, a men’s slacks manufacturer. Debra wasn’t thrilled about the move, but Jim tried to assuage her worries. “I told her at the time, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s only a couple of years,’” Jim laughed. “So 19 years later…” Even in El Paso, the Swaims remained loyal Aggies, returning to College Station for football games when possible. It was a long trip, but as Debra put it, “I believe when you’re an Aggie, you follow Aggie things.” By 2003, the Swaims were ready for a change of scenery. After looking all over Texas, they finally settled in Fort Worth, where they remain to this day. Jim became CFO of Ross Perot Jr.’s real estate company for seven years before retiring. However, “retirement” didn’t necessarily mean that Jim slowed down. “This is the third time I’ve been retired,” he joked. “It has a way of not lasting.” Instead, he now dedicates his time to “a lot of Aggie stuff.” Jim is on the Texas A&M Press Advancement Board, where he and fellow Aggie, Ted Paup, spearheaded a series of books about Aggie sports.

Finding Peace of Mind As the Swaims began to spend more time in College Station, mapping out their retirement and thinking about the future, they started to talk about what to do with the animals when Jim and Debra were no longer able to care for them. At the time, they just had three cats, and leaving their pets’ fates to chance made them uneasy. For a long time, Jim and Debra considered asking family or friends to take their pets, but the realities of such a commitment were starting to seem unrealistic. “Our friends and family are our age or older,” Debra explained. “Their life circumstances are changing. We thought, ‘This isn’t going to work. We have to find a better option.’” Fortunately, around 2011, Jim and Debra remembered some magazine articles they’d read about a place on campus that would provide long-term care for companion animals: the Stevenson Center. Debra had even clipped the articles out and saved them. After looking over the clippings, the Swaims knew they had to see the place for themselves. The first visit sealed the deal. Ellie Greenbaum, associate director of the Stevenson Center, gave the Swaims a tour, and Jim and Debra immediately knew they’d found the perfect home for their pets. “We thought, ‘This is just exactly what we’ve been looking for,’” Jim said. Debra agreed. “It seemed natural, and then we went and looked and were so amazed at the animals and how happy they were, the environment, and the personnel. It was amazing to us. The Aggie connection started it.” Since then, the Swaims have visited the center several more times, getting to know Dr. Henry “Sonny” Presnal and the rest of the “phenomenal” staff. They said they were particularly struck by the staff’s commitment to the animals,

Puff the communal areas for residents to relax and play, and the center’s close ties with the veterinary school to provide care in any situation. Although nothing can truly replace the Swaim’s loving home environment, “It will be close, they can adapt,” Debra said. “It’s a wonderful concept.”

Caring for Special Needs Little did the Swaims know, but their connection to the Stevenson Center would pay off much sooner than anticipated—in an unexpected way. Shortly after enrolling the three cats, Debra and Jim adopted a border collie puppy they named Cole. At first, everything seemed to be going well. But when Cole was only 2 years old, the young dog began having seizures. After consultation with a local veterinary neurologist, Jim called Presnal for advice. Jim explained, “I called Sonny and he put us in touch with Dr. Jonathan Levine, who met with us the next day. We went down and met Dr. Levine and Dr. Megan Steele, and we’ve been involved with them ever since.” Under the care of Levine and Steele, and now Dr. Arturo Otamendi, at the Texas A&M Small Animal Hospital, Cole’s seizures are finally under control. The Swaims said they are grateful for the neurology team’s excellent work and for Presnal quickly putting the family in touch with Texas A&M veterinarians. The situation with Cole reinforced the Swaims’ decision to enroll their pets in the Stevenson Center. With three specialneeds pets—in addition to Cole, Alley and Kwiz require special diets and medications for chronic conditions—the close relationship between the Stevenson Center and Small Animal Hospital gives Debra and Jim the confidence that their four-legged family will be happy and healthy no matter what happens. In Jim’s words, “We just needed to have some peace of mind that we had something we trusted, and the fact that it was Aggie on top of it—we just hit the jackpot.” Winter 2017 •

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CVM Today - Winter 2017  

A semi-annual publication for the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical...

CVM Today - Winter 2017  

A semi-annual publication for the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical...