Every day is different: Veterinarian turned love of animals into fulfilling career
Published 12:17 am Friday, February 27, 2015
A clock and blocks on a work schedule mean nothing to Dr. Stephanie Duhon at Vicksburg Animal Clinic. /// “One thing about this job is you wake up in the morning, you put on your clothes, and you don’t know what you’re going to see,” Duhon said. “There’s no routine day. In minutes, it’s an all-hands-on-deck emergency.”
Duhon can find herself wearing many hats and working emergencies big and small at the Baldwin Ferry Road clinic. That can involve removing dingy plaque from a yelping Chihuahua, taking a stool sample from a nervous beagle or turning into an ER doctor if an animal is injured.
“I’m your dentist, your oral surgeon up to a point, your dermatologist, your ophthalmologist.”
A midday break brings only a slight respite from situations of “all Hades breaking loose” in the clinic’s examination room in the afternoons, she said.
A seriously injured dog in need of the tender loving care of a skilled vet will get that from Duhon — and then some. She becomes part doctor, part data entry clerk and part mathematician.
“While I’m putting an IV in and all, I’m guessing the right weight of about a 70-pound dog,” Duhon said, showing off the shades she and assistants Kacie Lindsey and Brooke Standifer must break out when cold laser therapy is necessary for Rover or Spot.
“We use it a lot for wound care and it’s really good for arthritis,” Duhon said. “It’ll make them heal a lot faster. And the dogs get to wear dark glasses, too.”
Adrenaline rushes are as common as breathing for this energetic military daughter and mother of four, aged 10 to 15. Her love of animals came easy while growing up “all over the place.”
“My dad was in the Air Force,” Duhon said. “He told me I was born saying, ‘I want a pony’,” Duhon said. “Yeah, I was one of those people — from the time I was little. When was about 10, I was riding horses when we lived in New Hampshire. One of the horses I rode was having issues with her eyes, so they brought in a veterinary ophthalmologist. It was the first time I’d ever seen a girl doctor. It was my epiphany moment, that girls can do this, too.”
“I don’t mind a true emergency, like a dog hit by a car,” Duhon said. “Sometimes, it’s human medication a dog has gotten into, food items, plants, some strange things that go down that aren’t supposed to. Sometimes a pair of socks goes in one end and doesn’t come out the other very well. One time, a lab puppy ate a whole hand towel. When you stretched out the hand towel, it was as big as the puppy.”
“It’s a career field that takes up a lot of time,” Duhon said. (four children, aged 10 to 15; holidays) It’s not a 9 to 5 career that you can walk out the door and go, ‘I’ll be back at a certain time.’ You don’t go to your banker and say you want a loan for vet school. It’s a passion.”