PARIS — “When I was really young, I very much wanted to be a veterinarian,” said Kate Holden. “When I got older, I realized how many hours my dad put in and I very much did not want to be a veterinarian. I tried other things but always came back here to help out and found I really enjoyed working with animals.”

Holden recently graduated with a doctorate from Kansas State Veterinary School and has returned to Maine to practice medicine with her father, Matt Holden, at Oxford Hills Veterinary Hospital.

Dr. Matt Holden, left, welcomes his daughter, Dr. Kate Holden, to Oxford Hills Veterinary Hospital. Advertiser Democrat photo by Dee Menear

She is no stranger to the practice. “As kids, my sisters and I would be on poop patrol during rabies clinics,” she said.

By the time she was in high school, she was answering the phones and setting appointments. Later, she spent time doing hands-on tasks in more of an assistant role.

“I tried very hard not to push her in any direction,” he said. “I have two other daughters who are not in veterinary medicine and that is fine with me.”

It was a conversation between her mom and dad that led to the decision to pursue medicine, she said.

“My dad said he’d like to retire sometime and they were discussing what they needed to do to sell the practice,” she added. “It never occurred to me before that he would retire and it really bothered me that someone else could take over the practice. He never pushed me to follow in his footsteps.”

“Even when she was in school, I didn’t push her to come back here,” he added. “She was worried about the hours so I suggested she get into a specialty, like veterinary ophthalmology, so she could work 9-5.”

Kate Holden said she kept an open mind while she was in school but there wasn’t anything she enjoyed more than being at her dad’s practice. “I love it here and didn’t want to go far,” she said.

The hospital caters to animals of all sizes, including large animals with the ambulatory practice.

“I don’t have a single favorite animal,” she said. “I love them all for each of their personalities. What I enjoy most is building collaborative relationships with vets, techs, office staff and pet parents to give the best possible care to animals. I never thought of myself as a people person but I love talking to people about their pets.”

As for retirement, Matt Holden is not sure when that will happen or what it will look like. “This has been a part of my life for so long that I am not sure I can just walk away,” he said. “It would be nice to have a few extra days on my own. If I do retire, it will be a gradual process.”

He is hoping to spend more time working on “Animal Chat with Dr. Matt,” a weekly podcast that covers “everything animals,” he said.

“Dad lets me have as much help and guidance as I want,” she said. “As I gain more experience and confidence we will be more collaborative. With his experience and the new stuff I learned in school, we will be able to work together to make the practice better.”

Matt Holden has been looking forward to working with his daughter. “It’s been special, it really has been,” he added.

For more information about Oxford Hills Veterinary Hospital, visit oxfordhillsvet.com.