25 Year Anniversary

25 years - Really?

January 1, 1988. That was the day I moved to Gardner, with my wife Nancy and 2 young daughters, Jaime and Megan. This was also the day I started my new job at the Gardner Animal Hospital and the day I became the owner. Halleluiah! What had I gotten myself into? Could I make it? The bank was counting on it. I was not so sure.

I had graduated from veterinary school 4 years earlier. I worked at a mixed animal practice in upstate New York for 2 years, trying to fix cows, horses, goats, dogs, cats, and whatever else a rural town could send through the doors. I had spent 2 years in Connecticut sharpening my skills with dogs and cats and Siberian hamsters and other little creatures.

But nothing had prepared me for ownership. They didn’t have a class at vet school for that. It was a journey that was just beginning, and had I known what was ahead, would I have chosen it still? It was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, successes and failures, life and deaths. But most of all it was a gift, a blessing from God, and for some reason known only to Him, despite my inexperience and shortcomings, it grew and prospered. Looking back at the past, you can see a path clearly. But on January 1, 1988, I couldn’t see 20 feet in front of me, like looking through a blizzard. But, as they say, smooth sailing doesn’t make a skillful sailor, so through the storm we came, and the calendar said spring was just ahead.

The Gardner Animal Hospital was founded in 1984, and when I took over 4 years later, it was a small business with 1 vet, 2 receptionists, and 2 technicians. There were 12-hour days, followed by emergency on call all night, then do it again the next day. But I had Sundays off, sort of, except for that on call thing, so after church we tried to have some quality family time, unless I fell asleep. Thankfully my wife was (and is) a saint, so I was allowed to survive. And who would have guessed that slowly and steadily we grew, adding to the team until we were bursting at the seams with 4 vets and 8 staff.

So after hiring a young blond haired vet named Brian, I made him (actually he wanted to) do the practice management while I focused on building a new hospital that could provide the space and services we needed. On June 15, 2000 we moved into our new office on Eaton Street. And it has been uphill ever since, as we continue to grow in size, staff, and services.

We started small, providing only veterinary services. But over the years we added new services, including grooming, adoption, boarding, obedience training, behavioral consultations, internships and externships, educational seminars, open houses, tours, community services, agility training, pet playgroups, and pet placement services. Thanks to a supportive community, a great clientele of caring pet owners, and a dedicated team of pet care providers, we are continuing to grow and improve. We have won awards (2000 Gardner community improvement award, 2004 national veterinary hospital design award), become American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accredited, and recently finished 2nd in the 2013 AAHA Accredited Practice Hospital of the year.

But our greatest accomplishment is much smaller in scale, and measured 4 paws at a time. We love helping pets. And we love helping people. That is our purpose. That is our goal.

It started 25 years ago. I hope we have many more. It has been a blessing to be part of the Gardner Animal Care Center. Thank you Lord for the Journey.

- Dr. Michael McTigue