If the past year has taught us one thing, it’s how lucky we are to be able to connect with others using the power of technology - and we’re no exception to that. Technology recently brought together a group of VetCor team members that resulted in a changed life and a forever home for a surrendered Cavalier.
And Dr. Stephanie Tarlowe is here to tell the story:
Like most people who work in the veterinary field, I knew I wanted to become a veterinarian since I was very young. Even in grade school, I was career-oriented and joined the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H. I kept saying "yes" to new experiences and, as a result, I found myself employed at a swine farm once I started college at Cornell University to pursue my degree in animal science. That experience, paired with my Reproductive Physiology of Dairy Cattle course, is what initially sparked my interest in large animal medicine.
After spending the summer between college and vet school completing an internship that involved working on large sow farms in the midwest, I realized I wanted to work with a wider variety of livestock than I was. While pursuing my DVM degree, my interest in the dairy industry returned and I joined the dairy barn's student milking crew. I also found myself volunteering as part of the “puppy crew” to assist with after hours C-sections. All of that meant that when my clinical year arrived, I was able to turn my passions into externships - I traveled to Belgium during calving season to perform C-sections on their famous Belgian Blues, interned at one of the largest county fairs in the country, gained pet pig experience at a swine practice in Pennsylvania, and lambed out a few dozen ewes with a small ruminant veterinarian in New York's Hudson Valley.
When I finally graduated and it came time to apply for jobs, I knew I didn't want to return to New Jersey. Although I grew up in the beautiful, rural, northwestern part of the state, there simply weren't enough opportunities to practice large animal medicine there. I honestly didn't think I wanted to work in mixed practice until I found a listing for East Holmes Veterinary Clinic in Berlin, Ohio, on the AABP job board. It caught my eye because, in addition to working with dairy cattle and the other various livestock we service, I’d be able to do extensive canine reproduction work, a niche area of veterinary medicine I'd become enamored with during the many late nights I’d spent rubbing puppies as part of the puppy crew. After a successful interview, I made the decision to move myself and my guinea pigs all the way out to Amish Country in pursuit of my dream job.
One of the benefits of joining VetCor was the supportive community I found. As a new veterinarian, I’ve been able to connect with recent grads from across the country via VetCor's online Slack community. The app allows us to chat, share files, and trade ideas whenever we’re in need of support and I found it particularly helpful when a young female Cavalier King Charles Spaniel presented with non-weight bearing lameness in her right hind leg with little explanation as to what had happened. I quickly suspected that there was a problem with her hip socket and, upon further examination and radiographs, I was able to confirm that it was broken.
Hoping for guidance, I reached out to my colleagues and mentors on VetCor’s Slack community. Although the overall consensus was cautious optimism, the owner elected to surrender the dog. The sweet Cavalier hadn't stopped wagging her tail since she arrived at the clinic and we decided we’d try to find a rescue to take her in. However, the story of our Cavalier captured the hearts and attention of the entire VetCor Slack group.
That’s when the stars suddenly aligned and Dr. Becky Salinger of Austinburg Veterinary Clinic in Austinburg, Ohio, mentioned that she had a technician, Bitsy, at her practice who had been put on a waiting list by a Cavalier rescue group and that she’d be willing to adopt the dog. After being virtually introduced to Bitsy, I shared some pictures and videos with her and she was interested right away. In the end, she committed to adopting the dog and, because I had a few days off over the holidays and nowhere to go thanks to the pandemic, I decided to take a nearly three hour road trip and deliver her to her new owner. Now named Martha Mae (a "proper Amish name" per Bitsy), our sweet Cavalier is adapting very well to her new life and enjoys snuggles with Bitsy and her other pup.
It really is a perfect match - and it wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for our virtual community and a little bit of luck.
Dr. Stephanie Tarlowe, DVM, is a veterinarian at East Holmes Veterinary Clinic in Berlin, Ohio.
If you're interested in joining this new and expanding Slack community, please reach out to our vet leaders, Drs. Bryan Haag or Sara Mey, for more information.