It is still hard to believe the year is coming to an end.
For those who know me, I always give an extensive recap of the year's activities, as much for myself as for all of you. So here goes.
The year started with me going to Orlando to attend VMX, the largest veterinary conference in North America. It was a wonderful week of learning all the latest and most significant developments in veterinary medicine, including information about COVID transmission from pets to people. From the conference, we brought back the new GutBiome testing, in which DNA sequences the bacteria in the gut of animals with chronic diarrhea. This has been an exciting new addition to the practice to help better understand and treat this frustrating problem. Yet the MOST exciting was finally being able to purchase the Digitherm Camera, which I have been dreaming of since the first time I saw it back in 2019, the last time I was at VMX.
This year I also applied for and was accepted into the 2022 Leadership Evergreen Class. This local non-profit organization was created to develop vibrant, aware, and active local leaders for the betterment of our mountain community. It was wonderful to learn so much about local governance and the history of the community and surrounding areas. One day I will apply to be a county commissioner! It was an excellent opportunity to dive deep into what it takes to run the mountain communities, how our emergency services work, develop leadership skills, and make new friends.
In February, I was the volunteer vet for all three days of the Horse Expo, which was also so much fun. And I bought my oldest daughter her first car, a 1998 Pathfinder. Now, if only she will become willing to drive it!
I continued for another year on the Board of the Amazon Research Center for Ornamental Fishes (ARCOF). I need to visit Peru one day and see the facility and aquarium. So proud of what they are building and educating the locals to protect the fish there!
In March, Dr. Tam, my associate veterinarian, resigned. She had recently gotten married and decided to move back to Denver. Since pretty much every veterinary practice in America is hiring now because we are in a severe shortage crisis, this caused us some stress. Luckily, we found Dr. Sam, a real stand-up guy who fills in for me a little here and there so I can get some time off.
In April, the ranch where my kids, horses, and I all lived went under new management, and we suddenly had to move. That was stressful. But we were luckily able to get an excellent townhouse (despite the fact the rentals we looked at already had up to 16 applicants each in this crazy housing market) and moved the horses to a new stable.
As we were trying to get settled into the new place, I received a phone call letting me know I had been selected by the Small Business Association (SBA) as the Colorado Small Business Person of the Year! I mean, just wow! It's even still hard for me to believe it. What a tremendous honor to represent the over 165,000 businesses in Colorado. It was overwhelming to meet and be personally congratulated by Colorado Senators, Governor Polis, and even to be on a Zoom call with President Biden! The practice was also nominated for the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce Business Sparkle and Shine Business of the year award, which came with me attending a fancy gala at the Evergreen Lake House.
In May, we held our annual Kentucky Derby ResqRanch event. I was also invited to be on the morning show Great Day Colorado, which I have continued to do twice a month as it is fantastic exposure for the ResqRanch. Also, in May, we offered a ResqRanch Summer Camp, which was challenging to do in a public facility, but we had a lot of fun and made new friends.
This was the year that many of my favorite artists went on tour. To make up for the covid time. So my older daughter (who loves music) and I decided to go for it. You only live once, right? We saw the Deftones and Gojira, Nelly and Ludacris at RedRocks, Korn and Evanescence, and Tears for Fears, we drove to Pueblo to see Stone Temple Pilots at the Fair, and we saw Jane's Addition and Smashing Pumpkins. We had tickets for BauHaus, but the band was unable to perform. We also went to the annual Rocky Mountain Koi Club fish auction, which was fun.
In June, the whole family, including my mom, went to Palo Alto, California, for ten days to support my older daughter, who was invited to do a lawyer training summer camp at Stanford University for high school students. What an honor! We were so excited for her! And it's a good thing we went with her, too, because three days into the camp, it was canceled due to the massive power outages from the heat wave. So since we already had our hotel booked and paid for, I briefly considered heading back to Colorado but decided to stay and work every day on the business, alone and uninterrupted, while the kids enjoyed the pool. It was tough on clients for me to be gone so long as the only doctor, but I was able to get a lot of those 'business' things done that are important, too, and in a beautiful setting. We also spent a little time at the beach. Family time is so important.
We got back just in time to attend the Denver Fan Expo (which is another name for the Comicon for those comic book fans out there). This was particularly exciting because I met the director Kevin Smith, someone I have wanted to meet for over 20 years. He is such a fascinating success story to me, how a chubby kid from New Jersey who was into comic books and didn't even finish college ended up in Hollywood making movies and directing the likes of Ben Afleck and Matt Damon. I got his autograph and a hug. I wish I could have spoken to him more about his career. Perhaps another time.
This was also the summer that Cesar the little Mustang got his saddle, and we took him trail riding several times with great success. He is doing so wonderfully, and I am proud of him and how far he has come in a relatively short time. I also made some beautiful memories with my younger daughter, who loves horses as much as I do and was out there by my side. She also was cast as Jane in a Tarzan theater camp over the summer. It was a joy to watch her perform.
I worked hard at the hospital for a few weeks before being gone yet again for a trip to Alaska that I had booked long before when the kids didn't have passports. We saw many humpback whales and wild Orcas on my birthday, which was magical. The most fantastic thing about Alaska was how many miles and miles of uninhabited land there still is and how crystal clear and uncontaminated the water was so far away from everything. It was indeed a trip with my family I will never forget.
This was also about when we finally got the girls' passports, something I had been trying to do through the court system for over ten years. But we finally got it done, which felt like a huge accomplishment. I also completed my StealMoreYears online program for pet owners, but it still needs to be ready to launch, so stay tuned for that coming soon.
By now, I was getting ready to coast through the rest of the year, the girls doing good in school, me volunteering at the High School in the theater department that my older daughter is a part of, without much more drama. But then what should appear on my Zillow newsfeed Thursday morning, August 18th? A 10-acre horse property with a barn and a house, almost identical to what I had on my vision board for the past 11 years. I had an offer on it in less than 48 hours. It was accepted, and then life kicked into high gear once again!
It was time to repack everything we had just finished unpacking, and then my bookkeeper, who had worked for me for the past seven years, moved to Canada, so I had to find someone new right away amid all the changes. That was extremely challenging. We dragged ourselves and all the horses to the new place the first week of October, yet, there was so much to be done. The property was a real 'fixer-upper' that had been unoccupied for nearly a year. The barn had been used as a substantial illegal marijuana grow house and, therefore, almost entirely unusable for horses. We had no heat for weeks, water spurting out of the wall in one bathroom, electrical wires hanging out everywhere, no duct or vent covers, barbed wire fence, rusty broken metal gates, missing appliances, and wood pallets with nails sticking out all over the place laying in piles around the property. I ordered fence panels from BigR and enclosed the horses safely in a large corral, then got to work getting people to help with dumpsters, and tractors, mowing done for all the tall sock-destroying weeds, and getting hay brought in before the snow started to fall.
In October, I went to Florida for three days as the American Association of Fish Veterinarians had invited me to give a presentation. I was sick with a nagging cough for weeks from the stress of everything, but even that short break from all the pressure and seeing my mom, helped me get back on my feet, and it was great to get acquainted with many of my fish doctor friends.
By November, with great help and significant donations, we got all the major clean-up done on the property to make it safe for the horses. And even got an entire section of fence rebuilt. My kids and I went to Ohio for the Thanksgiving holiday to see family, something we had not done since my little five-year-old niece Ari was a baby. I graduated from the Leadership Evergreen class and was invited to an event at the Governor's Mansion, a highlight of the year. I learned a lot about the future of people and animals brewing in Colorado, which is based on different organizations working together to help animals in need, especially in the case of natural disasters. It was a very uplifting and exciting event, and I am so grateful I could attend. And Aspen Park Vet was voted the best Vet of Conifer. So exciting to receive yet another award and recognition for our hard work.
I also got to attend a Broncos football game from the KDVR TV suite, no less! And with one of my favorite Doberman-loving clients. What pageantry!
In December, we had our ResqRanch board meeting and acquired a new board member, an excellent trainer I have known for years. I also had less than a week to train our donkey to pull Santa's sleigh for a TV spot on OutThereColorado with the reporter Dan Daru. Donkey pulled off a Christmas miracle, by the way, pulling that sleigh through the dry grass with no snow and in front of cameras with hardly any chance to get used to the whole idea. And who says donkeys are stubborn? By some miracle, we got a harness donated to us the week before to make it happen. We had not one but two pet pictures with Santa at the hospital. We got great new bookkeepers. We had our annual holiday party at Beau Jo's Pizza in Evergreen, making everyone laugh as we conga line danced through the restaurant! I am so grateful to have Koreen, Judy, Diane, Elisa, Rachel, and Stefani (Ashley, who is new and could not make it) on our team. The team may be minor now, but we hope the new year will bring us a new vet who will fit into our culture and love for the animals and our clients. I am so grateful for them all. Without them, we couldn't do what we do.
Also, in December, I learned I was elected Director for America by the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association. Excited to be back on the executive board and resume my efforts to help make WAVMA the go-to source for all things aquatic veterinarians in the world.
As far as the future of Aspen Park Vet Hospital for 2023, we are bringing back our wildly popular wellness clinics in 2023 with discounted bloodwork and digitherm image days. The pet health plans didn't work at this practice for the unique way we do things. So we are going back to what people loved and what did work.
We are looking forward to hiring at least one if not two, new veterinarians so that Dr. Sam and I can have coverage more days of the week and can expand our house call and extensive animal practice. I am also working with a new company to rebuild all of our websites to streamline and update them all. We have also been able to help many beautiful animals in need this year, both client animals and rescue animals, through the ResqRanch. I could not do it without the support of my AWESOME staff and donations from the caring animal-loving angels of the world. Besides the rooster, the pet mice, and the multitudes of fish, we also rescued cats, including the little tripod barn kitty. His story is extraordinary, so if you have not heard it, please check it out on our YouTube channel and please make sure you subscribe. We share these heartwarming stories and pet care tips with you, our beloved clients, and friends. We also gave away over $12,000 of veterinary services to people in need this year.
Besides the SBA award, the biggest win for the year was acquiring the new ResqRanch facility in Evergreen. This has been a dream for 11 years in the making. What a miracle. I have to pinch myself every day that it's real. We are very excited about being able to continue our summer camps and Horses 101 programs in our facility at last. Additionally, we are looking to partner with mental health professionals, veterans, and other like-minded organizations to share our unique animals, education, and animal health programs with all. We are also looking into installing a large animal satellite hospital on the property to better serve our equine and large animal clients in a facility more appropriate for handling those animals.
Although it was a rough year in some ways, it has also been full of unbelievably big wins. I look forward to concentrating on the business, the ResqRanch, and my family. At the end of every chapter is the promise of a new, better one, with happy tales throughout its pages. After all, that's why we are here, to grow and have fun. My fondest wish for all of you reading this is that 2023 be the best year yet for you and your animals!
Thanks for reading!
DrQ is here to help you have the most extraordinary relationship with ALL the animals in your life so that you both may live happier and healthier together longer. From all of us here at Aspen Park Vet Hospital and the ResqRanch, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and God Bless you all!