Mar 19 2012

My Life: Thanks to my Dog!

As a veterinarian, I often get asked the question “When did you realize you wanted to be a veterinarian?” Many of my colleagues knew that they wanted to be veterinarians from a very young age, but not me; I’ll let you in on a little secret… I didn’t always want to be a veterinarian. When I was young I really had no idea what I wanted to do, one day it was a lawyer, the next it was a dancer and to be honest, I never thought about it too seriously. Throughout my early teens and twenties I had to deal with several devastating tragedies, and I felt very lost at times. Once I graduated from college, I adopted my first dog, a pug puppy named Oliver. It was this furry, little, smoosh-faced dog that helped me figure things out.

It’s important to always realize that love comes in many forms and can be about more than the typical type of romance. In our society, many people think of their pets as more than just pets but as a part of their family and the topic of the human-animal bond is being looked at more and more. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) defines the human-animal bond as follows, “a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment.” My dog’s unconditional love helped me deal with the loses I had faced and it was this connection that helped me realize that I wanted to be a veterinarian; not only to help animals, but to help their owners as well.

Our pets make us laugh, they keep us healthy, they cheer us up when we are sad and they keep us company when we are lonely. They don’t ask for much but give a tremendous amount in return. As a veterinarian, I am fortunate to hear stories everyday of the love people have for their animals, and I know from personal experience the healing effect they can have. Oliver has been with me for the past 14 years; he’s traveled from state to state, even to another country with me; he inspired me when I felt defeated and always kept me on track, essentially, he is a huge part of why I am where I am and I have to thank him for that, because I have the greatest job in the world!

Originally from Ohio, Dr. Ritchie moved to New York City in 2000. While completing her pre-veterinary requirements at Columbia University and Hunter College, she worked at multiple veterinary practices as a technician to hone her skills. She then moved onto Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, completing her clinical training at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in August 2010. While still in veterinary school, she co-authored an article entitled “The Anatomy and Physiology of the Avian Endocrine System” for the publication Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice.

Dr. Ritchie has a strong interest in internal medicine, especially endocrinology, soft tissue surgery, emergency & critical care, and avian/exotic medicine. As a former education director at a museum she is also well-qualified for the client education that is so important to her since, in her opinion, it is the cornerstone of a trusting relationship between clients and their veterinarians.

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