By Rachele Baker, DVM – We all have our own journey to travel in life and our own paths to follow. My path of self-discovery has caused me to evolve and change many times over the years. The path that I have followed in my life has not been a straight path nor a well-traveled path. I feel as Robert Frost did when he said regarding his choice of paths: “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” And, speaking of paths, here is a photo of a beautiful trail that I love to hike with my golden retriever Savanna.
So here I am today: a veterinarian, pet lover, author, and blogger. I didn’t grow up knowing that I wanted to become a veterinarian or a writer. We didn’t have many pets when I was growing up. The only one I remember was a German shepherd that we had for only a short time. But I loved animals. I avidly watched “Lassie” on TV and devoured books like “The Black Stallion” and “Jenny Lind and Her Listening Cat.”
As a young girl, I was passionate about horses, and I fervently wanted my own horse. I read every book in the library about horses. I spent hours drawing pictures of horses. There was an old saddle on the side of the stall in the barn behind the house where I grew up in rural Vermont. I spent hours sitting in that old saddle daydreaming of having my own horse someday. I never got my own horse, but I held onto my love of horses into adulthood.
Flash forward to my career as co-owner and manager of a motel in Tahoe City, California. While I lived in Lake Tahoe, I was a volunteer for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care for four years. As a volunteer for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, I raised, rehabilitated, and released back into the wild hundreds of baby birds, and I loved it. I found so much satisfaction in helping those little birds. I knew that I had finally found my calling in life and it was to help animals.
My work for Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care was my inspiration for becoming a veterinarian. I went back to school at the age of 34 to reinvent myself and start a new career as a veterinarian. I got my B.S. in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology from the University of California Davis in 1997 and my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2001.
When I was in veterinary medical school, I wanted nothing more than to become an equine veterinarian. After I graduated from veterinary medical school, I started an internship at an equine hospital. But I got hurt too many times, and I saw experienced horse people get hurt as well. So I decided to go into small animal medicine caring for dogs and cats. I found that I loved working with dogs and cats, and I have never regretted my decision to go into small animal medicine.
I have been fortunate to share my life with three wonderful dogs beginning when I lived in Lake Tahoe. The first was a big black Labrador retriever named Magic. Magic died in 1991. The following year, I got a rambunctious yellow Labrador retriever puppy that we named Chelsea. She was my best buddy for fifteen years before she passed. Now I share my life with my Golden retriever Savanna who is the love of my life and a very large Maine coon cat named Chessie that I adopted after finding her abandoned on my front doorstep when I arrived at work one morning. Here is a photo of me with Savanna.
One day some years ago, I was looking through a box of memorabilia in my garage, and I came upon my mother’s handwritten journal and a large stack of letters that she had written me during her final months of life. I hadn’t looked at my mother’s journal since immediately after her death from mesothelioma in 1992.
When I read my mother’s journal for the second time, I realized that she wanted her journal published so that her experiences could help others. I then spent months transcribing my mother’s handwritten journal and letters and finally published them in my book entitled Eighteen Months To Live.
Writing the prologue, epilogue, and narration that were required to turn my mother’s journal into a book awakened something in me that I was not previously aware of – my love of writing. Shortly after publishing my book, I created my website Rachele Baker, Veterinarian and Author with the intention of writing about things related to my mother’s book. But my writing eventually moved in a different direction. I started writing articles about issues in dogs and cats with the intent of helping, educating, and supporting pet parents.
Now my website is full of articles that I have written about pet health and resources for pet parents. I love to interact with my readers in the comments section below each article, and I am happy to answer any questions that you might have related to the content of my articles.