Hello there, this is Dr. Hedges of Pleasant Paws Veterinary Care. Welcome to the beginning of our big adventure! I will regularly update this blog throughout our build-out so that you can be a part of our journey. Once we open, follow our blog for veterinary news and interesting tidbits. To start, here’s a view of the very beginning of our empty space:
Construction is set to start on May 27th – it’s hard to believe we are so close already! This clinic is a dream that has been evolving since 2nd grade. In 2nd grade I had to say goodbye to my very best friend, a Saint Bernard mix named Babe.
I cried for days after losing him; he taught me to crawl, protected me while I tried to eat dog food, provided a furry pillow for nap time… I felt like I failed him because he couldn’t live forever. I vowed I would become a veterinarian to try to change that.
As soon as I could get a job, I became a kennel assistant at a hospital in Indianapolis, which evolved into a veterinary assistant position that lasted throughout high school, college, and veterinary school. I worked for a veterinary corporation where I traveled to several hospitals across Indianapolis and filled in wherever needed. As I was finishing my bachelor’s degree at Purdue in West Lafayette, I was accepted into Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
I went into vet school thinking I would pursue a residency in Internal Medicine after graduation… then second semester I thought I would pursue a PhD to teach and do research… then next year I wanted to become an Anatomical Pathologist… needless to say, I fell in love with many aspects of veterinary medicine.
My clinical year honed my skills and set the path for my future. I had always loved cellular biology (my major in undergrad) and the molecular basis of cancer; when I started my senior year, I was confident that I would pursue a career in Veterinary Oncology. As the year progressed, I found my favorite part of each day was interacting with clients and following up with patients that I had seen in previous rotations. Oncology provided that close interaction between client, patient, and veterinarian, but it didn’t involve lifelong relationships. I developed a new love for general practice – it allowed me to incorporate all aspects of the medicine and science that I love with long lasting client-patient relationships.
After graduation, I worked for the same corporation that had hired me as a 16-year-old kennel assistant. I did not travel far from Purdue; my main hospital was located in Lafayette, but I filled in occasionally at hospitals in Indianapolis to gain additional experience. It was at this clinic that I was finally able to put all of my schooling to practical use and find my clinical style. I retained my passion for cancer management; through consulting with a local oncologist, I was able to start several patients on oral chemo and manage them successfully. I also learned to fill the need for hospice care when a terminal diagnosis had been made and quality life could still be maintained through pain management and supportive care. I found this often gave the family time to come to terms with euthanasia and deal with the grief of losing their beloved pet. Euthanasia is one of the hardest parts of a veterinarian’s job, but it is also one of the hardest decisions a pet owner ever has to make. Drawing from my own experience with pet loss and grieving, I developed an informal hospice and at-home euthanasia service to help aid clients in making this final decision.
Until vet school, I had never owned a cat, but I quickly found that I loved feline medicine, the true art of cat practice and low stress handling. With positive reinforcement and gentle handling, I was able to ease the stress of exams, vaccines, and sample collection. Puppies that grew up in my care were genuinely excited to come to the vet – and my love for my job continued to grow.
My husband and I had moved to Lebanon just before I started vet school; he worked as a software engineer in Fishers and I was in school in Lafayette, so it was the natural in-between. We quickly fell in love with the community and bought our house here in 2008. When I finally decided general practice was the way to go, we dreamed of opening our own practice and becoming a bigger part of our community. Pleasant Paws Veterinary Care is allowing us to live that dream and follow my passion for lifelong care, cancer management, low stress handling, and hospice care. Thank you for taking the time to be a part of our journey!