For Diane Dodin, her passion for pets dates back to her childhood, when the family pets ranged from cats and turtles to fish, gerbils and even a tarantula.
"Pets have touched me in such a way that I can't imagine doing anything else," but working with pets nowadays, Dodin said.
She grew up in north suburban Highland Park and said her dad, Jean, also was a big animal lover. "I got it from him," she said.
Dodin even took an animal-related anatomy class in high school, where they actually dissected a cat.
After graduating from Highland Park High School, Dodin earned an undergraduate degree from Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania, earning a degree in small animal science. She then studied veterinarian medicine at Ross University in the Caribbean.
Her resume has, since 2003, labeled her as a vetand as of Aug. 5, 2013, she became the owner of a suburban animal hospital. Dodin, who lives in Chicago's Austin neighborhood, now runs Prospect Animal Hospital in suburban Arlington Heights, a practice that has operated since 1955.
The business is a "dream come true," she said.
Dodin said she considered similar business ventures in Chicago, but this was the best. She has been talking and negotiating for this business since early 2013. The purchase was completed Aug. 2.
"It's great, being able to make decisions that you want," Dodin said. "The clients here are wonderful, so supportive. They come in just to say, 'Hi.' Everyone in the [strip] mall has been very, very supportive, too.
"The first time I walked in to look at the place, I just knew it was right."
Since purchasing, Dodin has been on a cleaning campaign. They also have added plants, new posters and more.
Prospect Animal Hospital has about 450 clients and has been in its current location for about 17 years, she said.
The 2,400-square-foot facility has two exam rooms and a procedure space plus areas for dental cleaning, surgery, x-rays, lab work and more.
"We've had some amazing stories, already," she said.
One involved a dog having routine blood work done that turned out to have some serious liver issues, which were treated. "The client was so grateful and the dog is doing well, wonderful," Dodin said.
"One of the biggest things I've noticed is these pets look great for their age. We had a 13-year-old German Shepard that looked like she was 4 years old. I couldn't believe it was 13.
"I've always wanted to do this, own a small practice. Get to know customers and their pets. Pets give so much to us, and they really don't ask for anything. Being able to help a pet when it's not able to tell you what's going on is the least we can do."
She added, "It's nice to wake up in the morning and look forward to coming to work. I'm very proud of what I'm doing."
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