This Is Why

Dear Pet Owners,

The picture above is what the end of our driveway looks like every morning. Our 7 year old son, Wes, waits for the bus by himself (because he’s a big kid, you know). And every morning our Golden Retriever, Chloe, sits at his side until he is safely on the bus.

Chloe will wait for 5 minutes like this, or for 30 minutes, if the bus is running late. Only until he climbs on the bus does she leave her post and continue on her day.

This single photo sums up why I do what I do.

This is why I am a veterinarian!

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a veterinarian. Growing up, I worked in my grandparents’ meat locker in Rowley, Iowa. The state meat inspector was a veterinarian I respected. I always enjoyed visiting with and learning from him. I liked the science aspect of what he did. Ironically, I never had pets as a kid, but I did enjoy animals. Somewhere in all of that sparked a career in veterinary medicine.

Now, I’m going on my 14th year of being a veterinarian and my 6th of being a business owner. When I look back on my reasons for becoming a veterinarian, I am struck by how vastly different those reasons are from why I stay.

I still love the science in what I do and obviously love the animals, too. But why I get up every day with a smile on my face and spring in my step comes from you—the pet owner. I get to see day in and day out that bond, the intense connection, that unending and unconditional love you have with your pet.

It’s humbling to care for the best friend of your child who has cancer. Or to improve the quality of life for the one thing that is your only tie to your late wife of 50 years.

I’m honored you share those stories with me.

Most veterinarians didn’t go into the field for the comfortable hours. We start our days early and end our days late. And for some of us that is 7 days a week. Eating lunch and sitting down aren’t guaranteed.

We certainly didn’t go into it for the spectacular sensory experiences. Thirty barking dogs saying hello all at once in our boarding facility (before we’ve had our coffee), 8-pound tumors on the spleen, parasites that defy description, bladder stones the size of cheese curds, 4 pairs of floral underwear and 3 Polly Pocket toys in one abdomen. Some days it is sensory overload!

And I won’t even go into the smells.

Whether the day was difficult and sad or happy and satisfying or just smelly and gross, seeing how much you care for your pet…that is my why.

It isn’t why I became a veterinarian, but it is why I am a veterinarian.


Tom G. Taylor, DVM

Den Herder Veterinary Hospital