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I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian. This made the job of my high school counselor very, very easy. However, no one could have guessed at the kind of vet I would turn out to be. Graduating from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1990, my goal was to find work as an equine veterinarian. My family had never been horse people, but working for an equine vet over summer breaks had instilled a love of this life in me. The barns, the sports medicine, and truth be told, I felt very comfortable with the body language of horses, something I have yet to achieve with llamas.

Shortly after graduation I was exposed to the first of the “alternative” therapies I would later add to my skill set. A local human chiropractor in the area was treating horses, and there were times when he could fix problems I had no answers for. That chiropractor and I became friends—I taught him equine anatomy and he taught me a few simple adjustments. Soon my belief in the benefits of this therapy led me to be trained and certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.

I have a pretty good feel for chiropractic, but even so, found plenty of cases that didn’t respond to an adjustment (or conventional veterinary medicine). This led to acupuncture training through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, initially undertaken to give me one more tool for pain management. But the elegance of Chinese theory really spoke to me and I quickly realized it had much more to offer than just pain relief. Instruction in the use of Chinese herbal medicines and food therapy followed, which allowed me, by combining herbs, acupuncture, and chiropractic, to treat any case that came along. About this time clients began asking me to look at dogs in addition to horses. Reluctant at first, a whole new world exposed itself: canine performance. Here I was able to work on athletes with demands (and injuries) very similar to horses, and the new path of my career was clear.

Eventually my practice evolved to treating solely with chiropractic and Chinese medicine, and expanded to all species. Most of my patients are still performance animals: everything from driving to dressage horses on the equine side and agility to schutzhund on the canine. The other portion of my practice is spent with geriatric animals that have multiple, complex problems and helping their owners provide a better quality of life. I also see many musculoskeletal and internal medicine cases that are not responding well to, or are baffling, conventional veterinary practices. I work closely with trainers, massage therapists, in addition to an animal’s primary vet and together we can usually come up with some great solutions to rather difficult problems.

One aspect of Taoist philosophy I particularly like is the idea of the scholar-warrior—in short, the balance between mental, physical and spiritual pursuits. The career I’ve chosen is great for intellectual stimulation, and in my free time I like to stimulate the physical and the spiritual, or creative, sides. I love exercise of all types, especially if it involves being outdoors: climbing, cycling, skiing are all things I enjoy in addition to more mundane workouts at the gym. The creative side is explored through photography and writing. My photography focuses mainly on the natural world, and I may add a page on this website for sharing those in the future. I’ve written many articles for magazines and in 2006 co-authored a textbook on herbal medicine called the
Clinical Handbook of Chinese Veterinary Herbal Medicine. In 2011 a more ambitious, comprehensive text called Veterinary Applications of Chinese Herbal Formulas will be published. I also have a work of fiction out called Barn Politics, written under the pseudonym Philip Marshall, which is sort of a James Herriot meets CSI mystery. The bottom line is that I love what I do. Like I said at the start, I always wanted to be a vet. And always will.