Animal Clinic of Kalispell - January 2020



ON THE BRINK Saying Goodbye to the Last Decade

Ten years ago, the Animal Clinic of Kalispell was a FAR CRY from successful.

The last decade has been extraordinary. We transformed from a clinic struggling to open the doors every day to a three-doctor practice with a full staff of dedicated people and clients knocking down the doors to bring their pets to see us. It’s a completely different place. Being on the brink of failure drove me to swallow my pride and actually ask for help. Today, I love being a practice owner AND a veterinarian. A close friend of mine once said that I spent eight years working on my business, and today I’m finally able to work for my business. Once we got things on the right track and built a good reputation,

I bought the practice in late 2008 with high hopes and a lot of optimism. I was taking over a practice that was struggling, but I figured if anyone could turn it around, it was me! I’d been a veterinarian for 13 years at that point, and taking care of pets “doing” medicine was second nature to me. I’d taken a huge risk and left my previous great job with a full-time schedule and a full client base. It wouldn’t take long to bring that kind of success to my own clinic, right?

Talk about being naive.

people showed up. It feels good to be starting a new decade in such a strong place. Over the years, other people have come to me for advice on their businesses. I never thought I’d be the guy people would turn to for business solutions, but it’s cool to have this kind of knowledge that can help others. The biggest piece of advice I can offer anyone with any sort of business is stop thinking about how you can make more money. It’s vital for businesses to be profitable, yes, but if money is your drive, you’re going to fall apart. Real growth comes when you ask, “How can we better serve people?” At the clinic, I have a dream list of all the new services

Being on the brink of failure drove me to swallow my pride and actually ask for help.

For a year and a half, I struggled. The clients we had were awesome, but we just didn’t have enough of them. There was a stretch of time where I was paying my employees and paying my bills but not paying myself. It was an incredibly stressful time. The harsh truth was that while I was a great veterinarian, I didn’t know how to be a business owner. That’s just not something they teach you in veterinary school. By the end of 2010, I knew if something didn’t change, I was going to fail.

It’s not fun to admit you’re not good at everything. But I set my pride aside and sought out people who did know who to run a business. Fortunately, I quickly found a group who taught me business management. I stuck with that group for several years, slowly undoing my preconceived notions and learning how to be a practice owner. Right from the start, we had great successes. By the end of 2011, I was confident there was a lot of work ahead, but we would make it. Building up for a few years allowed us to find fantastic associates in Dr. China Corum and, most recently, Dr. Zoe Ball.

we’d like to offer our clients and patients. Our goal is to give people and pets what they need and solve problems they don’t know they have yet.

I can’t say for sure what the next decade will bring, but I can say I intend to still be here in 2030. I don’t know where else I would be.



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Help Your Kids Achieve More This Year WITH SIMPLE, ACTIONABLE GOALS With every new year comes an opportunity to reinvent ourselves or start down a new path toward self-improvement. Making resolutions is a big part of many families’ New Year’s traditions, and parents often have a desire for their kids to take part in that tradition when they’re old enough. Following through on resolutions is tough, especially for young children, but with your help, they can achieve their goals. PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH. You are your children’s role model for almost everything, including following through on New Year’s resolutions. So, ask yourself if you follow through on your own resolutions. When you proclaim that you will read more books or finally get a gym membership, do you actually try to do it? Your kids will assign as much importance to New Year’s resolutions as you do, so by sticking to your own commitments, you can help them stay on track too. KEEP THINGS SIMPLE AND ACHIEVABLE. When your kids are forming their resolutions, their first attempts will probably be very broad. Statements like “I want to be more kind” or “I will try to help more around the house” incorporate good values but don’t include any actionable steps. Help your kids think of tangible ways to act on those goals. For example, if they want to be tidier, a good resolution might be for them to clean their room once a week or take responsibility for one household chore every day. DON’T DO ALL THE WORK FOR THEM. While it’s important for you to help your kids formulate their goals, be sure that you aren’t taking over. If they’re ultimately responsible for their resolutions, they’ll feel more compelled to keep them. Instead, suggest different goal areas they could improve, such as home, school, or sports, and let them elaborate. When it comes to creating habits, nobody is perfect, so even if your kids falter on their goals in the middle of February, don’t worry. The important thing is that you continue to encourage them every step of the way.

A Word Fr

Oh, my gosh! Have you heard about snow?

Hi, I’m Brody the black Labrador! I recently moved up to Montana from San Diego with my mom, Taylor Bell. In all my four years, I’d never seen snow until we came here. It’s amazing! It’s kind of cold, but it floats down from the sky and you can chase it around. Snow is just one of the many fun things I love about our new home.

You’ve probably met Taylor already. She’s a certified veterinary technician at The Animal Clinic of Kalispell and the best person in the world. I’ve been by her

side since I was a puppy. Taylor calls me her “soul dog,” which makes her my “soul person.” She just gets me. We always have so much fun together, going on hikes or paddleboarding on the lake. And when Taylor’s upset, it’s my job to help her feel better. Luckily, I’m really good at my job. We moved to Montana because this is where Taylor’s boyfriend lives. I don’t usually like it when people try to take Taylor’s attention, but Kevin’s pretty cool. I have to steal my spot on the couch back from him all the time, but otherwise,

Tasty, Chewy Cat Treats


• • • • • • • •

1 large egg

4 oz canned, wet cat food

1/4 cup parsley, coarsely chopped

2 tsp olive oil 2 tbsp water

1 cup brown rice flour 1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1 tbsp dried catnip

Inspired by Joy the Baker



UNWANTED GUESTS WHEN PARASITES HITCH A RIDE IN YOUR PET This winter brought the first heartworm-positive dog we’ve ever treated at the practice. Heartworms are not endemic to our area, but this dog was adopted from a shelter down in Texas where heartworms are a big problem. Fortunately, it was too late in the season for mosquitoes to spread the parasite, and we were able to start treating our new friend right away. However, this case highlights exactly why we take parasite prevention and screening so seriously.


m Brody

things are great. Plus, Kevin’s dog, a heeler mix named Tuck, is my best friend. Tuck and I didn’t like each other much at first, but now we play all the time. Our favorite game is to chase each other around the couch, barking and running at full speed. I have no complaints about making Montana our new home.

Not long after we moved up, Zoey, Kevin’s daughter, had a birthday party. Taylor spent hours making Zoey a unicorn cake. It looked so good that I couldn’t resist! When Taylor left the kitchen, I jumped up on the counter. I only meant to take a little bite, but before I knew it, I’d eaten half the cake! Needless to say, I got in a lot of trouble. It wasn’t a great first impression, but I think I’ve made it up to Zoey by playing with her a lot. Montana is a pretty awesome place. I liked the constant sunshine in San Diego, but the adventures we’ve had here, especially in the snow, have been amazing. And to be honest, as long as I’m with Taylor, I’ll be happy anywhere in the world.

‘But we don’t go anywhere!’ Many people assume parasites come from deep in the woods or far-away

jungles. If their pet doesn’t go anywhere unusual, they don’t have to worry, right? Not so. Even going to the dog park can expose your dog to parasites. Many parasites are spread through waste, and the eggs can live in the soil for ages until they’re picked up by a new host. If your dog spends time in a place where other pets or wildlife have been, they’re at risk for picking up a parasite.

‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ If left unchecked, parasites can be incredibly destructive. Intestinal parasites can cause malnutrition, flea bites can give way to bacterial infections, and heartworms can result in lung disease, heart


failure, and organ damage. There are even some cases when parasites can transfer to humans. When this happens, it can have deadly consequences.

1. Heat oven to 325 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, cat food, parsley, olive oil, and water. Add rice flour, cooked rice, and catnip. Mix until dough is thick but spreadable. 3. On the baking sheet, spread dough to 1/3-inch thickness. Place on middle rack in oven and bake for 12–15 minutes. 4. Carefully remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to touch. Dough will still be undercooked. Slice dough into bite-sized treats and return to the oven. Cook for 8 more minutes. 5. Remove treats from oven and let them cool completely before serving. Treats can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Echinococcus is a type of tapeworm known to infect Montana wildlife. If your dog or cat picks up this tapeworm from a dead raccoon or coyote, they can spread it to your family. These tapeworms result in cysts that, if they rupture, can cause allergic reactions or even death. ‘How can I help my pet?’ While there are treatments and medications that can quickly address most parasites, it’s not always an easy fix. In some cases, like with heartworms, the treatment can be just as difficult as the parasite itself. When it comes to your pet’s health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure your pet is up to date on all their vaccines, and if you think your pet might have a parasite, get them tested right away. It’s better to address the problem sooner rather than later. Just thinking about parasites in our pets can make our skin crawl; just imagine how your pets would feel if they got a parasite! Call 406.755.6886 and schedule an appointment to protect your pet from parasites today.







The Secret of Our Success


Helping Your Kids Make New Year’s Resolutions Meet Brody the Black Lab Are There Heartworms in Montana? New Treats for a New Year Meet the World’s First Airport Therapy Pig



Meet the World’s


Imagine you’re navigating a vast airport on a busy Saturday, shouldering your way through crowds and struggling to hear the PA system over the clatter of 1,000 wheeled suitcases. Suddenly, you see a pig wearing a hot pink sweater waddling toward you on a leash. Do you stop in your tracks? Does your stress level drop? Do you laugh out loud when you see its pink nail polish? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then you can sympathize with the passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and staff at the San Francisco International Airport. They get to enjoy visits from Lilou, the world’s first airport therapy pig, on a regular basis! As part of the Wag Brigade, the airport’s cadre of (mostly canine) therapy animals, Lilou wanders the airport with her humans, bringing joy, peace, and calm to everyone she meets.

Lilou may be the only pig of her kind, but airport therapy animals have been a growing trend for the last few years. According to NPR, as of 2017, more than 30 airports across the U.S. employed therapy dogs, and these days, estimates land closer to 60. The San Jose and Denver airports have therapy cats, and the Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky International Airport even offers passengers the chance to play with miniature horses before boarding their flights. Therapy dogs started appearing in U.S. airports after the 9/11 terror attacks, which changed American attitudes about flying. They did so well at helping passengers calm down that airports began implementing permanent programs. Some have pets on hand 24/7 to assist passengers, while others host animal visits every few weeks or months. These days, regular travelers have fallen hard for their local therapy animals, many of whom even have their own Instagram accounts and hashtags. So, the next time you’re traveling, keep an eye out for a friendly pup, cat, pig, or horse to pet. A bit of love from an animal just might improve your trip!

First Airport Therapy Pig



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