I have known and respected Dr. Verne J. Fairhurst, DVM, since beginning my pet training career and continue to be impressed by him and his team of other caring veterinarians and staff. Dr. Fairhurst is owner and medical director of the Montgomery Animal Hospital in Kenwood. Understanding the importance of positive training, they have referred many clients to me and have invited me to speak to their clients several times. Please learn more about Dr. Fairhurst in my interview below.
Lisa: Your grandmother had a special impact on your work. Can you explain?
Dr. Fairhurst: My paternal grandmother lived on farm with 20 cats, mostly working toms whose job was to control the rodent population. She believed in reincarnation and told me that she would come back as a tomcat because they have a great life – running all night and being catered to all day by a “a fat old lady” as she described herself. I was in veterinary school at the time, so she told me she would come back specifically to me. When I pointed out that tomcats get neutered, she told me that before neutering any cat, I should look it in the eye and if I see a twinkle, it’s my grandmother – and I shouldn’t neuter her. To this day, I always look each cat in the eye, but I’ve yet to see her twinkle.
Lisa: Tell us about someone who has been an important influence in your life and why.
Dr. Fairhurst: When other kids were stumbling over the question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up’ I knew I was going to be a veterinarian. That career choice was shaped by a family friend – a well-respected leader in our small town – who was a veterinarian. When I was just a snotty-nosed kid of 11, I liked what he did. Who doesn’t like animals? He really took time with me, letting me hang around the animal hospital.
When my buddies were playing ball, I was cleaning cages and observing how to interact with animals and their owners. I hung around him for 20 years. The summer between my sophomore and junior years in college I lived at his animal hospital, observing during the day and answering emergency calls in the middle of the night. During part of that time he served as president of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), an organization that sets the highest standard of care for veterinary hospitals. Only 12% of hospitals earn AAHA accreditation. Today, one of those is my practice, Montgomery Animal Hospital. AAHA accreditation shapes every aspect of our practice and I credit my mentor for exposing me to the best way to practice veterinary medicine.
Lisa: Tell us about your favorite vacation.
Dr. Fairhurst: Hiking is often a focal point of our vacations, so it was particularly appealing when my wife, Gail, who is a Professor in the Communications Department at the University of Cincinnati, was invited to an annual leadership conference in southern Utah. Our three kids and I tagged along – six different times. While Gail attended conference sessions, we hiked, kayaked and enjoyed the outdoor adventures at Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon and Capitol Reef National Park. It wasn’t all work for Gail. During conference breaks she was able to join in the fun.
Lisa: What was your first job and what life lessons did you learn from it?
Dr. Fairhurst: I worked in a funeral home, helping with yard work and other responsibilities. As you can imagine, I saw people during their most difficult times. That taught me the importance of respecting people, particularly when they aren’t at their best. At the time, I didn’t realize the life lessons l was learning at that job, but now I see that it helped to shape the way I treat people, especially my clients. The experience taught me patience, how to handle emotional situations, remain calm, act professionally and communicate with people.
Lisa: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Dr. Fairhurst: My parents always encouraged me to pursue my interests and to never give up on my goals. Their encouragement and confidence in me gave me confidence in myself. My goal, of course, had always been to be a veterinarian, yet getting into veterinary school is difficult. With my parents’ encouragement and the confidence they instilled in me, I applied and was accepted at Ohio State. It’s a tough program, so my parents’ advice kept me going during those sometimes challenging times.
Lisa: What are some of your favorite activities outside of work and family?
Dr. Fairhurst: I enjoy hiking, kayaking, reading nonfiction adventure books and running.
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