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I had a vision almost three years ago: to do things differently; to build something; to change the world – if even, just a little. However, ‘vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Yet, vision with action can change the world’ (Joel A. Baker).  But not only did I want to provide top notch medical care to my patients, I wanted to be a trusted resource for the community. And on the eve of our two-year anniversary, I can finally take a deep-breath, step back, and whisper, “I did it”. But, oh my, how hard it has been and how steep the cost.

For those on my team that have been with me from the beginning, we still share stories of the first few weeks. Emergency surgeries before we had our final inspection; the boarder that went home with me every night; HOURS spent cleaning and prepping; and even the first months of doggie daycare happening in the treatment rooms because three people did it ALL - kennel, daycare, reception, technician, surgeon, and doctor. Did you hear the story of the ER doctor that tried to convince me I needed to be admitted to a human hospital for an infected cat bite three weeks after we opened? Well, let’s just say that Dr. T. can be a pinch stubborn and didn’t have time for that (I’m sure that comes as a shocker to some of you), so we compromised with IV antibiotics and an infomercial-like discharge so I could go back and treat patients that were waiting on me that afternoon.   
Yup, that was all in just the first month!

The two years since have been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride of life.
No one could have prepared me for this vision and reality therein. Who knew there were so many dogs that could jump a six-foot fence, and poor Lenny who read the ‘you can’t dig to China’ memo but tried anyway. Valuable lesson learned number one:  don’t ever underestimate the drive to destroy - most notably by eating my acrylic kennel wall! And for Pete’s sake, why is basic IT and server management not taught at vet school (or website design, social media management, public relations, etc, etc, etc). And don’t even get me started on the financial stuff. There are no words to thank Roseann Bluler (aka: Mom) enough for saving my butt over and over again. Roseann has put in thousands of hours in the last three years taking care of everything green that I had no idea needed to be done, let alone how to do it!

My family has paid the price along the way.
We started off with no designated kennel staff (we now have 2 full-time and 2 part-time), which meant we did it all, 7 days a week. My kids, Brenden and Devin, didn’t see much of their mom outside of these walls, but they were involved becoming professional pooper-scoopers and wall-scrubbers and I couldn’t be more honored to be the mom of these two blossoming men.  At a steeper cost, these past nine months saw a change of plans on life after separating from my husband and taking on full-time-single-parenthood, full-time veterinarian, and business owner. Assuredly, as I have needed to shift hours a bit here and a bit there to accommodate my family, I would like to thank everyone for their support and understanding; and a special thank you to my team for always looking out for my mental and physical well-being.

Our hospital would not be who or what we are if it wasn’t for the amazing team we have created.
It has been a lumpy and bumpy road, but I couldn’t have done it without my work family.
Samantha has been there from the very beginning as my lead tech and hospital supervisor, but more importantly, my friend. Samantha’s experience in managing all departments has been crucial, and her friendship has been a life-saver.
Phen joined us three months after our grand-opening. Phen’s voice and ability to make every stranger into a friend helped develop the “heart” of RCAH, and his ability to see the same goal and vision but down different paths to get there, has contributed to the breadth and depth of our identity.
And Ryan is amazing at managing our kennel and daycare; and by this summer, we are uber-excited to announce that he will be our official in-house trainer, which is that final missing piece of my vision for providing full service wellness care for our patients and their families.  I could go on for every staff member, but suffice it to say, I am honored  to have each of them on my team.

These two years have created some special memories and I would encourage each of you to scroll through our Facebook timeline for some of the best ones… happy puppies after emergency C-sections; oodles and oodles of “itty bitty” kittens; forever homes found; puppies that have grown up in our daycare; boarders that have been coming since we opened; and lives touched. Oh, the hugs and shared tears - sometimes of joy, sometimes in grief. I do what I do, not for my patients, but for their families. My greatest joy is in knowing that I have changed someone’s life, at least for a moment. Maybe that is simply by taking the extra 15 minutes (sorry for the person in the next room that had to wait) to explain the situation one more time or sometimes it is by giving someone hope, gift-wrapped in options, when they had none.  We often accept referral surgeries from the specialty hospital so they can be done for half the cost, effectively saving a life. And this is who we are and why we do what we do.

So, what lies ahead?
There is much abuzz at RCAH for this summer!
If you haven’t heard, we have added another veterinarian! In addition to Dr. Lisa Matthews, who covers two Saturdays a month for me, Dr. Tyler Hodinka will be working part-time during the week. Dr. Hodinka will be expanding our services by seeing exotics, as well as, our canine and feline patients. Additionally, as I mentioned above, Ryan will be completing a trainer certification program soon and we will be offering day training with board-and-train options. And with new doctors come new hires; thus, we are pleased to welcome back Taylor and welcome Emily (technician), Jordan (assistant), and Ashley (assistant) to our team.

Our community connection program has morphed over the last two years, with our commitment to our community only growing stronger. We are one of only a handful of businesses that are members of Choices for Children, an advocacy organization supporting children and families in the foster care program of Wake County. Furthermore, we are continuing our efforts with an extensive and ever-growing list of rescue groups, including the Wake County Animal Shelter’s Heartworm Program, where our discounted rates allow them to save more animals and provide the care needed on the worst of their cases. We are active in our community, not only individually but collectively, from vaccine clinics to building fences for Dogs Deserve Better; from playing Santa Claus to two families each Christmas to volunteering with Human Beans, which help feed the less-fortunate (more info on how you can be a part of this in the coming days). And lastly, we provide ample opportunities to the next generation of veterinary professionals to shadow, volunteer, and participate in the day-to-day difference we strive to make here at the hospital. Each member of my team, through each opportunity to give back, continues our vision, strengthens our values, and supports our hope of helping animals, helping families, helping our community!

To each of you who have been a part of us, THANK YOU!  
Thank you for trusting us.
Thank you for believing in us.
Sincerely…
Dr. Teresa