I started working at Animal Medical Center of Plano in early 2000. I was only two years out of vet school and was still quite green. At the time, it was just myself and Dr. Sharp in the practice. I was such a baby vet that Dr. Sharp’s clients quickly smelled fear, and they went in for the kill. I was meek, terrified, and apparently his clients saw right through my attempt at a professional demeanor. I had clients call me wishy-washy and incompetent, some even shooed me away and demanded to see Dr. Sharp. Other clients made it plainly apparent that they never wanted me to touch their pets. Ever. One particularly rude client proclaimed she’d rather have her pet die than to have to see another vet.
Every day, Dr. Sharp’s desk was piled high with the charts of people who wanted him to double-check my work, get a second opinion, or just complain about this person who dared attempt to offer veterinary advice that wasn’t him.
Needless to say, I was pretty dejected. I shed a tear or two, and that might have been the beginning of my wine habit (not really, I blame kids for that).
Finally, Dr. Sharp had to sit me down and teach me the Jedi tricks associated with giving at least the appearance of knowing what the heck you’re talking about. Ancient Chinese secret, if I told you, I’d have to kill you. I’ve learned a lot in the ensuing years, some good, some bad, all valuable.
Fast forward 18 years, two kids, several pounds and a lot of grey hairs. I now generally know what I’m talking about. I’ve won over the majority of Dr. Sharp’s clients, or at least they are willing to see me if he’s not around. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of wonderful, lovely people and pets (and a handful of not so nice ones). It’s been a good, long run.
However, I think it’s time to shake things up.
My classmate, Dr. Erin Shultz opened a nonprofit animal hospital in Frisco called Mazie’s Mission about 4 years ago. It’s such a cool concept, the only one of it’s kind in the country: Mazie’s is a full service animal hospital (not a cut-rate, assembly line spay and neuter/low cost clinic). What makes Mazie’s unique is that they provide services only to rescue groups and animal shelters. No private clients or owned pets. It’s all about the animals here.
This Thanksgiving, Erin posted a Facebook message that she needed a part time veterinarian. The place had grown to a point where they needed help. A little voice inside me said “THIS”! “YOU MUST DO THIS! YOU WILL LOVE IT!”
So, with a little trepidation, I asked her about the position. With abject terror, I worked a couple days at the hospital (note: first time to set foot in another clinic as an employee in EIGHTEEN YEARS!). That first day, I was a hot mess of adrenaline and stress hormones.
I loved it! I love getting to help these animals. I love the new challenges, the shift in the types of health issues I see, the problem solving, lots of thinking outside the box. This is why I became a vet: for the love of animals.
The dirty little secret of veterinary medicine is that in order to be successful, you have to love animals, and people too. It’s a balancing act between the financial and emotional needs of the client and the medical needs of the pet. A delicate dance that I’ve done for 20 years. I love my clients, but I’m ready for a break.
So, my last official day at AMCOP is February 17th. I’ll be back from time to time to fill in when the docs go out of town, so hopefully I’ll get to catch up with clients & staff and not be totally “out of the loop”.
I’m not retiring, just doing something altogether new. I am so excited to help Mazie’s grow, with a goal of spreading nationwide, ultimately ending the need for unnecessary euthanasia in the homeless pet community by providing an avenue for rescue groups and shelters to receive excellent veterinary care for their charges. (Ok, that was kind of a mouthful, sorry).
Heartfelt thanks to all of my amazing clients for giving me the privilege of caring for your pets at Animal Medical Center of Plano for all these years.
Here’s to the next 20 years.