There are moments in everyone’s life when fate reveals herself and guides you along an unexpected path. Among the many small “fateful” moments in my own life, there are two that stand out vividly: one involved an off-hand comment at a dog training seminar and the other a red textbook and a gentleman named Wei.
I have worked in dog training and dog sports many years before I started the practice of veterinary medicine. My first career was a medical technologist. I worked in Clinical Pathology at my alma mater, the University of Missouri, first at the School of Medicine and then at the College of Veterinary Medicine. During those 15 years I became increasingly concerned about canine performance issues that went undiagnosed by conventional medicine and were regarded as training problems that were “tricky” to correct.
In 1991 I attended a training seminar hosted by Suzanne Clothier at which she evaluated my dog. When she first put her hands on Ciera, she turned to me and whispered, “You need to get this dog to a Chiropractor.” I located an AVCA certified practitioner and with one adjustment my dog improved so much. This proved my belief that many training problems are actually misdiagnosed physical problems. Soon afterward, I explored chiropractic and acupuncture for my own physical issues and became increasingly intrigued by thoughts of learning these modalities to diagnose subtle problems and thereby help dogs before they develop chronic injuries. I made up my mind to go back to school for a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree with the specific intent to pursue training in Veterinary Acupuncture and Chiropractic.
There were two problems looming in front of me: I didn’t want a career practicing conventional veterinary medicine, and I didn’t know of anyone who both understood what I wanted to do and could help me put my ideas into action. Upon graduation in 2000, I found employment at a 5-doctor AAHA practice and stayed there for 5 years. During that time I used my vacation to take the Veterinary Acupuncture course and the Chiropractic for Animals course at the Colorado State University. With my employer’s blessing, I started my own clinic on my free weekends to work on friends’ and fellow competitors’ dogs. However, I became increasingly disappointed in my ability to use acupuncture to treat issues beyond chronic musculoskeletal problems.
In 2004 I was losing hope of ever developing a practice exclusive to these modalities. I regretted the time and money I had spent on my education, and was seriously considering returning to work as a medical technologist. That was when I found myself wandering around in the exhibit hall at the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association’s Annual Conference, hoping that if there was an answer to my predicament, it was hidden in a book. I turned a corner and chanced upon the Chi Institute and Dr. Xie’s Jing-Tang Herbal’s booth. I picked up a red book (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) and I met Wei from Jing-Tang Herbal. He told me about Dr. Xie’s school and answered my questions about opportunities to study there. I bought the book and didn’t put it down, reading it all night. I don’t remember attending any more of the speaker’s sessions that weekend but I do remember the feelings of relief, excitement and hope returning. I registered for the very next Chi course, Herbology for Dermatology and Cancer, where I met many wonderful people. Between 2004 and 2007, I took all of the Chi Institute’s courses, and was certified in both Veterinary Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology by the Chi Institute in 2007.
I left group practice, and started my solo practice Canine Performance Medicine in 2005. I’ve limited my practice to Veterinary Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology, Animal Chiropractic and Canine Rehabilitation Therapy. I continue to work with performance dogs, geriatrics, and consult and help treat complicated medical cases referred by colleagues.
Dr. Xie invited me to lecture in the Kidney Herbal course in 2007, a position I’ve continued to enjoy. In 2012 I was invited to join Chi as a Teaching Assistant in the Basic Acupuncture course, a job that I enjoy more with each session. It is wonderful to be a part of such a welcoming and successful school. I have watched the acceptance of Veterinary Acupuncture growing and my enthusiasm is renewed by students who are new to acupuncture and by associates who visit Canine Performance Medicine for Internships. Bruce Ferguson once said to me, “So 2004 was when your ‘Chi Addiction’ began”. Yes, thanks to some help from the guiding hand of fate.