The Long Story
Why does a fully trained conventional veterinarian study alternative methods of treating disease? I've been answering that question for almost two decades now. When I graduated from veterinary school in 1986, I thought my training was complete. I worked for other veterinarians in and around Kansas City for five years. In 1991, I started my own practice, Weston Veterinary Service. My alma mater West Platte High School (1978) was down the street. My first clinic was a full-service conventional veterinary practice. It had a boarding facility, a groomer, surgery, dentistry and hospitalization services with a good support staff. It seemed everything was in place for me to fulfill my destiny. I was living on my family's dairy farm near Weston. By the end of the nineties, I was a busy small town doctor and had the support of my community. The people in Weston were truly happy to have a local veterinarian in their midst and I was happy to be there. I knew everyone and they knew me...and my parents, grandparents, and all my siblings. My children went to grade school a few blocks from the clinic. Being a small-town vet was a great job! I stayed busy with a variety of challenging cases and I was running my own business. Why, after 15 years of practice, did I sign up for veterinary acupuncture training?
I signed up because I wanted to "heal" more of my patients. I was frustrated and disappointed with the limitations of conventional medicine. I signed up because I knew drugs and surgery didn't cure many diseases. Sometimes they just hid the symptoms and sometimes they did more harm than good. I signed up because I believed the oath I took as a new veterinary graduate to "do no harm." I made a sincere commitment to my patients and I cared about them. I signed up because a Dachshund named Maximillian Caesar became paralyzed. After an expensive surgery performed by the best board-certified surgeon in Kansas City, he came back to my clinic with a poor prognosis, destined for euthanasia. Through colleagues and peers, I heard about holistic medicine. Some veterinarians knew how to treat paralyzed dogs with acupuncture. But I didn't, at least not yet. I ordered acupuncture needles and an electro-stimulator. Then I phoned a friend who instructed me in Max's first treatment. Three weeks later Maximillian Caesar was walking again. Three months later he was chasing squirrels. Five months later I was in acupuncture school.
I took the IVAS (International Veterinary Acupuncture Society) acupuncture course and received certification to practice veterinary acupuncture in 2001. Learning acupuncture was just the beginning. The next year I took the New Mexico Basic Chinese Herbal course and served as a laboratory assistant for the IVAS acupuncture course in San Diego. By 2004 I had completed advanced herbal modules in cancer therapy, treatment of neurological disorders and geriatric herbal medicine.
Weston is 20 miles north of Kansas City. Once word got out I was practicing holistic medicine many of my clients were driving an hour or more to my clinic. It was difficult treat my patients on a healing schedule due to travel time. I felt the location of my clinic was compromising my practice growth. In 2004, I opened Acupuncture and Herbs For Pets, an outpatient clinic more conveniently located in Overland Park, Kansas. It was the first holistic veterinary practice in Kansas City. Operating two separate hospitals was a challenge. It became unmanageable before the end of the first year. With some regret, I closed Weston Veterinary Service in 2005 and kept taking courses in holistic medicine. Studying advanced acupuncture and food therapy courses kept me from having spare time. Over a period of many years, I studied and practice regularly the balance techniques and acupuncture strategies of Dr. Richard Tan.
2009 brought another change for my business. I joined two conventional hospitals offering holistic medicine. I learned Ozone therapy and IV Vitamin C therapy for treatment of advanced cancer cases. My career was a good run; thirty years of veterinary practice in and around Kansas City. I retired in 2016 after my parents passed away. My children were already grown and gone. I sold everything I owned and moved to Panama, Central America. You would think this story would end here, but it doesn't. There are sick animals everywhere and I try to help them. In Panama, I realized I was still seeking medicine that could cure more of my patients so I enrolled in the Pitcairn Institute of Veterinary Homeopathy certification course and began this online consultation service.
For thirty-eight years, I have devoted my professional energy to the continual study and practice of veterinary medicine. I believe every pet deserves a loving guardian and a devoted veterinarian who is trained in both conventional and holistic medical therapies. Several professional organizations support veterinarians who practice alternative therapies. One of these organizations is the AAVA, American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture. In January of 2004, I was elected to be a member of the Board of Directors for the AAVA. My three-year term ended in April 2007. I served on the Public Relations committee, and as Chairperson with the Membership and Mentoring committee. From 2009 through 2012, I served as treasurer with the Executive Committee of the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS). In August of 2010, I was fortunate to visit Denmark for the IVAS Congress. IVAS is a very important organization and is a powerful resource for alternative veterinary medicine. If you want to find a veterinarian trained to perform acupuncture, go to the IVAS website and search for a veterinary acupuncturist near you. If you would like to find a veterinary practice offering other holistic therapies, visit the AHVMA website and search for a veterinarian near you. Over the years, several students have visited my practice to observe and learn about alternative therapies. I also welcome the opportunity to mentor veterinarians interested in holistic medicine.
Like Corey Ford, I believe that "properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend."