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33 Years of Practice, the Changes I Have Witnessed

It all started over 30 years ago, in a mixed animal practice north of Toronto near Caledon. My first patients were either family pets or prized equine athletes. Driving in a small jeep at all times of the day (and night) in the snow belt area between both Orangeville and Newmarket gave me a true appreciation that illness does not abide by the clock.

Move forward ten years and my wife, veterinarian Dr. Cathy Buller, and I opened one of the first 24-hour veterinary hospital facilities in the country. We became among the very first to introduce the use of IV pumps for small animals and to properly administer fluids. This was soon followed by the introduction of ultrasonography for our patients and then “Doppler” studies which were rare at the time, yet further improved gentle diagnosis. Next CT scanning was added to that facility. We often joke that this piece of diagnostic equipment was far better than a new sports car for my mid-life crisis. It was a huge venture for a small animal clinic, and one of the first of its kind within all the country. We were on the leading edge of performing and interpreting ultrasound and spiral CT protocols and studies.

At the time each field of veterinary medicine was undergoing exponential changes as new methods developed. Staying current became a real challenge given that we were often leading the way. With the pressures and very long hours of daily practice came illness and physical strain. Intermittent vertigo occurred that affected me for several years, followed quickly on its heels by triple by-pass surgery. It was clear that we were not superheroes. The practice of over 40 employees was sold to our associates and we moved back to our roots of caring and personalized patient care. That is what Westbridge Veterinary Hospital is all about. Thirty-three years brings with it a lot of experience. Most of it when accompanied with the best equipment available means that the right diagnosis is obtained with minimal discomfort to the pet. Laser surgery allows for many successful procedures that would never have been attempted even fifteen years ago. The expertise that we have in ultrasound scanning makes our hospital tops in its field. I now teach our knowledge across the country through targeted seminars and around the world through VIN; the Veterinary Information Network. Yes, this little hospital is much more than it seems. Within the last decade when so much of the world seemed more and more pre-occupied with your wallet, many facilities followed the lead. The “calling” to become a veterinarian sadly often became just another form of business. The measure of the success of a clinic became how profitable it was instead of how many people and their pets that it has helped. Thankfully the four partners at Westbridge committed to staying with more original values. A business built on trust and integrity is still the best foundation. We still believe that doing the right thing is the best for our clients and their pets. Our profession has certainly changed, in some ways to its detriment, but we know that experience, caring and respect for clients and their pets improves our skills, and us, with each passing day.

It is truly an honour to help our clients in their time of need. We understand the enormous responsibility put upon us when their loved pets are placed in our care. We also know that this trust needs to be earned and never abused. Pets cannot speak on their own behalf. They cannot tell you when they were not taken care of with compassion, competence and respect. They cannot inform you if the veterinary team gave them their very best. We can only hopefully convey this level of care through our actions. In 33 years of practice, I still feel that we are among the luckiest people in the world to be blessed with the ability to practice veterinary medicine. We are all God’s children, four legged or not. What a privilege it has been to serve His family honourably.

– Dr. Bob



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