January 4, 2019
Dear Clients and Friends,
By now, it is fairly common knowledge that I have been missing from the action at Lakeside for awhile now. A fall has taken its toll on my neck, and even with therapy and months of time, the progress has been slow in resolving the pain and headaches. The resolution of this problem remains uncertain in both time and degree, so it has reached the time for me to step aside from veterinary practice for good after almost 40 years at Lakeside. It seems like just a few years ago Drs. Lynch, Nelson, and Hoppe took me under their wings.
Veterinarians enter practice with basic expectations of what it will be like. I have encountered all of those wonderful pets, owners, interesting cases, and heartaches that were forecast and then some. Numerous of those personalities, both human and animal, are indelibly etched in my memories.
Things I hadn’t imagined when this career began include:
-- Seeing clients for so many years that they become your friends; they grow up and have children of their own, and soon those kids are now back with their own little ones. Some of these folks are now sharing their fourth dog’s lifetime with me or their 40 year old bird’s entire life with me! Where did the time go?
-- Working with bald eagles, snowy owls, trumpeter swans, peregrine falcons, hummingbirds, and even a 5 ft. long alligator! were certainly not on my list of anticipated patients when this all began.
-- I’m still not quite believing I did a hysterectomy on a parakeet, removed a diamond-stud earring from the gizzard of a conure, or pinned the broken leg of an African Grey Parrot on Christmas Eve.
-- My best Christmas story is of a Standard Poodle that ate a homemade ornament consisting of styrofoam with at least 100 sequins pinned to its surface with an equal number of straight pins. The x-rays confirmed he had indeed eaten the WHOLE thing. The straight pins were scattered from the stomach to the large intestine – a seemingly impossible scavenger hunt to embark on. Being a doctor includes learning when your help isn’t needed. The dog never exhibited one sign of trouble and X-rays three days later revealed EVERY straight pin had passed completely through the intestinal tract on its own !!
-- In addition, I hadn’t guessed I would be asked by an insurance company to examine 22 dead parrots from a pet shop that filed a claim for loss due to smoke inhalation. The diagnosis was actually that they had died of a rapidly spreading virus, had no indication of smoke inhalation, and that the smoky little fire was staged for insurance purposes. In another case, I was involved in proving a faulty laboratory test was being used to over-diagnose an infectious disease – to generate more revenue for a researcher’s projects.
-- I have to mention the number of wonderful high school and college students that spent time with us at Lakeside over the years on their way to becoming veterinarians themselves. It is at least double figures.
-- I saved the circumstance I am most proud of for the last. The thing that has surprised me, and pleased me, more than anything else in my years as a veterinarian is the staff I have had the great fortune to work with over these 40 years. We have built an amazing group of doctors (135 years at Lakeside), veterinary technicians (120 years at Lakeside), office staff (70 years at Lakeside), and maintenance staff (30 years at Lakeside). You and I can always depend on them to give you, your pet, and each other their best. I am certain I will miss working with them as much I will miss all the animals. I depart leaving the hospital in the very capable hands of my great partner Dr. Rice and our awesome hospital administrator Penn. I know I wouldn’t have lasted so long at Lakeside without their support and camaraderie. Hopefully I’ll still run into some of you as I stop into “check-up” on these folks as Lakeside enters its 80th year.
I’m off to keep searching for birds, to get involved in more census projects involving birds, and to visit new places, both in real life and in books. Thanks so much for sharing your pets’ lives with me.
James C. Frank, DVM
Dr. James Frank Bio
Dr. Frank graduated from University of Illinois in 1979. He has spent his career at Lakeside Animal Hospital, where he enjoys problem-solving the cases. Dr. Frank is very interested in avian and exotic medicine and has helped the Schlitz Audubon Center and the Urban Ecology Center with their animals – feathered, scaled and furry. He loves being in the Milwaukee area because of Lake Michigan which provides him with many bird watching opportunities. He is an avid birder and is one of Wisconsin Society for Ornithology’s most active contributors to Seasonal Field Notes and Cornell University’s E-bird. He does bird breeding censusing for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife and Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. Besides birding he enjoys reading, gardening, hiking and swimming.
Favorite book: Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
Favorite movie: Back to the Future, Grand Torino
Favorite quote: The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that just ain’t so. Mark Twain.
Person admired: Roger Tory Peterson – he brought birding to the masses with his field guides.
If you could have one superpower what would you choose? Super human hearing – oh wait, I already have that.
When playing rock, paper, scissors which one is your go to? Paper