I have always had a dream to own a veterinary hospital. The journey to this point has been filled with great joys and deep sorrows, but I have never once wavered in my goal: to own and operate a hospital that offers advanced diagnostics, medicine and surgery while maintaining a family atmosphere where pets and their people feel safe and welcome. Walking through the doors of Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital ten years ago changed my life. I met and instantly bonded with Dr. Cheryl Welch, who over the next seven years became my boss, mentor and dear friend. Both she and Dr. Wendy Kozak were amazing teachers and colleagues. They have been integral in helping me to become the veterinarian I am today. I absorbed as much of Cheryl’s ideals and Wendy’s knowledge as I could. It was during this time that I realized that my love for veterinary medicine encompassed not only my care for animals but also my joy in getting to know and serve my clients.
The passing of my dear friend and mentor, Cheryl Welch, was devastating. And yet, from that devastation came the resolve to begin this new chapter of my life. The search for the future home of Bergen County Veterinary Center started in January 2012. I sifted through site after site. None was perfect: the location was awkward, or the property owner wouldn’t allow animals or the rent was too high. I finally found a perfect site sometime in February 2013 and we closed on the property seven months later.
Once the site was chosen, the journey of design and development began. I worked with several architects to create a design that included a welcoming reception area, ample working room, comfortable exam rooms, a lab, pharmacy, surgical suite, radiography room and most importantly a special comfort room for those dealing with the loss of beloved furry family members. Having never gone through the building process before, I had NO IDEA of the pitfalls and stumbling blocks I would have to conquer along the way. Town meetings to get approvals, mountains of paperwork to get a permit for demolition of the existing structure and then MOTHER NATURE. I really felt like she hated me last winter as I saw my empty site covered in over 4 feet of snow, effectively paralyzing construction. As the lion turned to a lamb in March of 2014, we finally broke ground. Throughout the past 7 months, I have watched the progression of my dream become a reality. Oh, there have been plenty of trials and tribulations along the way. We discovered the basement was going to be built in the water, so we had to raise the entire building by 18 inches (which took time and money); then the footings were poured incorrectly; finally there was a hiccup with the roof. But nothing can accurately describe the sense of joy, wonder and excitement that I felt as I walked through the just framed walls. My dream on paper was now 3-Dimensional.
It is now November 10, 2014, nearly 14 months since I closed on the property, 34 months since this journey began. The end is in sight: we are hoping to open in January 2015! And THIS is the reality: If it weren’t for my amazing patients, who inspire me daily and their owners, you—my clients–I would never have had the strength I needed to persevere. I am so grateful to all of you for you have each supported me and shown an incredible amount of love and loyalty that few people can claim to have experienced. Thank you for your patience and support as we get through these final months. I can NOT wait to pop open that Champagne bottle and christen Bergen County Veterinary Center with hundreds of little paw prints. And I believe Cheryl is up there smiling down on me.