I was an avid reader of all of James Herriot’s books – All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All, to name a few. James Herriot was a mixed (large and small) animal veterinarian who lived and worked in Yorkshire, England. He practiced veterinary medicine before there were antibiotics, much less any of the other medications I rely on daily. His stories were both hilarious and touching. He made the people he wrote about come to life through his rendition of his life as a veterinarian.
I never thought I would be lucky enough to emulate Herriot’s strong relationships with his patients and their families. His books portrayed him living and breathing veterinary medicine. He would be called out of bed in the middle of a wintry night to attend to a cow exhausted by a futile labor, he was invited to fancy parties as a guest of his wealthy and eccentric client’s obese Pekinese named Tricki Woo. The stories are as endless as they are wonderful.
After 20 years in practice, I have been, however, blessed with many stories of my own. I grew up in Troy and at 15 years of age started working for Mrs. Gasow who owned Salilyn Kennels on the corner of Coolidge and Wattles. Once I was 17, I also worked at Gasow Veterinary Hospital cleaning cages and taking care of animals. During my sophomore year at Michigan State University I was traveling with large animal veterinarians from Portland, Michigan visiting dairy and equine farms. During the summer between my sophomore and junior years I worked with laboratory animals, and continued to work with rats involved in cancer studies through my junior year.
I started at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in the fall of 1987. I was lucky to have been accepted early during my junior year, and spent the summer before veterinary school studying medieval literature (following a recommendation from my pre-veterinary advisor to do something other than veterinary medicine while I could!) at Cambridge University after touring England and Wales for two weeks with my parents. In retrospect I will quote Dr. Fred Gasow who said, “Aaah, veterinary school. Those were some of the best days of my life!”
My first job as a veterinarian was at Golf-Mill Animal and Bird Hospital in Niles, Illinois. After a grueling nine months mixing 15 hour nights and eight hour days I was rescued by Dr. Barry Miller, who owns Green Bay Animal Hospital in Wilmette, Illinois. I loved working at Green Bay AH and learned a lot of valuable lessons there. The people at Green Bay Animal Hospital were like family to me and I will always appreciate the friendship we shared and the mentoring I received there. Both of the other doctors and the rest of the staff even made the trek to Royal Oak for my wedding in 1994! Our son Danny was born in Evanston in 1997 and within a year we had made the decision to move back to Michigan.
I started at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates in March of 1998. It has been a wonderful and adventuresome thirteen years. I work with a fantastic group of people and have met so many wonderful pets and their families. My husband John and I have had two more kids: Nick in 2000 and Katelyn in 2003. John and I are so incredibly lucky to have the support of John’s mom, Bobbie Christy, and my dad, Jerry Taylor, as well as the rest of our family and friends, with the creation of Oakland Hills Veterinary Hospital. We both lost one of our parents; John’s dad passed away in the fall of 1998 and my mom lost her battle with Parkinson’s disease in October 2009. We did sadly have to euthanize our two dogs (first “babies”) Lucy and Midge in 2002, two cats Cleo and Eddie (my saviors during veterinary school) in 2006, and our beautiful orange cat Wes in September of 2011. We again have two dogs – Axel our Whippet Hound whom we adopted in 2003 and Star our Great Dane- German Shepherd- Cocker Spaniel-Bull Dog-Bull Terrier mix (the DNA analysis amazes me). Star is our first (and last!) experiment with a puppy. Buddy the hamster, Rango the gecko, Graham and Chub-Chub the newts and many fish round out our menagerie, although two new kitties may be in the works…
That is my history in a nutshell. As I embark on my newest adventure, Oakland Hills Veterinary Hospital, I hope to share many stories with you from years past, as well as create a lot of new ones!