Dr. Liz with Dirk - updated December 2015
I (Dr Liz) am Wollongong born and bred, to Polish born parents. My family consists of Dirk (my life partner and vet nurse) and four children (Tegan, Haiden, Sean and Paige). Dirk was born in Tokoroa, New Zealand, to Dutch born parents.
We are pet lovers like our clients - we have two cats at home - Dash, and Pusski (inherited cat) (and the neighbours cat "Feral" (they named him, not us) who sneaks in to grab the cat food!).
We also have Piper, our kelpie "problem child" with her hip dysplasia, multiple allergies and general awesomeness.
Pandora, the cat that owns the vet clinic, is also an essential part of our family, even as the boss of the vet clinic.
Let us not forget our "ginga ninja", otherwise known as feral "Pumpkin"
I attended West Wollongong Infants School (when it existed), then went to West Wollongong Primary School, then went to Wollongong High School (before it was Performing Arts, and after it was "selective"), and completed my Higher School Certificate (in the days when it was out of 500). I scored high enough to join the Veterinary Faculty at the University of Sydney, graduating with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science in 1989., within its designated five years! (what hard five years it was!).
Dirk attended Amisfield School, then went to Tokoroa High School, and then ended up at the University of Waikato doing something. He ended up graduating with a Bachelor of Science, with a special interest in Geology. Working as a Petroleum Geologist soon followed, which meant that he got to travel to very exotic sites (like the middle of the ocean in Bass Strait, or some oil rig in the middle of the desert hours away from civilization.) His brother lived in Wollongong, and that is where Dirk and I met, on New Years Eve in 1990!.
I started working in Wollongong, at Crown Street Vet Hospital, as this was just the next street across from where I grew up. How easy was that! I could roll out of bed at 7.55 am and get to work on time for 8! Those were the days. That was the year that I started going out with Dirk also. So, it was a big year! My second year of work, I decided that I was going to travel to Europe, and attend the World Small Animal Veterinary Conference in Vienna, and then have a baby (Tegan). That was also a big year! I planned the conference and holiday, but not the baby!
So, when I came back from travelling and having a baby, I attended the Australian Vet Conference in Adelaide... and my world was changed! Puppy Preschool was my new fav topic! So I started them, and there were 13 puppies in the first class! (way too many with an experienced person, but certainly, a disaster zone for a novice like moi!.... but even so, we had a good time, and it has lasted... Puppy preschools are now run in most vet clinics. I find it ironic that I was the first to do Puppy classes in the Illawarra, and am probably the only vet clinic not doing them! :) Ah well.)
Well, another kid came along (Haiden) which was great, but in those days, part time work for vets was not easily available... I hate being ahead of my time! it was either full time or locum (casual work with 5 minutes notice), which didn't work for me at all, especially with Dirk still supporting the family doing what he was doing!.
I really enjoy being part of a pet's life and following through, and you can't do that when you work a day here and there at different places. Dirk was still working the oil rigs in those days, so the challenge was to develop a practice where I could be part of my families lives, as well as enjoy my working life.
Whilst I was sorting things through, I worked in Sydney, to gain a broader experience of veterinary working life. The challenge of balancing a career with family was always there.... so I found a solution... it was Vets on the Move. That officially started in December 1995. Unfortunately, it did too well, and we had to expand even further.
So came the next challenge. We needed a hospital base. The local vets weren't all too forthcoming into entering an arrangement where we could help each other, so we went searching for a place to call our own.
My sister in law lived in Woonona, and she pointed me out to this run down building which used to be the corner store. We looked into it. The building inspector said it should be demolished. I looked at it, and saw such potential. It was, to my eyes, the most beautiful building. Granted, alot of work, blood, sweat, tears, and lets not forget money, has gone into this building. It is the building we all know as Russell Vale Animal Clinic, or "the Bellambi vets" to the locals.
It is upsetting to see that we constantly face graffiti and theft, which makes it harder for us to do what we do as animal careers, as we waste hours scrubbing "TAGS" off the side of our building, or cleaning up the broken glass! And, not forgetting the multiple plants which have been stolen, the outdoor chairs that have been relocated, and the general abuse by those who walk past, simply because the building is built on its front boundary (because it is so old).
But onto a more positive note... The building was bought in December 1996, and by April 1998, it was open to the public! But life wasn't interested in making things easy... in fact, it kept on reminding me of what was important, which is family. Sean was born in October of 1998. Paige came soon after in November 1999.
Lots of things have changed, but the basis of what we do has remained the same. We wish to enjoy coming to our little practice, and feeding lots of liver treats or Greenies to our visitors.
Our pets are part of our family - our animal clinic family, as I like to call it.
We hope to welcome more pets and their families into the animal clinic fold.
Dr Liz and family.
Dr Liz : Bachelor of Veterinary Science ( Uni of Sydney) (BVSc)
- Chartered Member of the Australian Veterinary Association (CMAVA)
- Registered and Licensed Veterinary Surgeon with the Veterinary Practitioners Board (NSW)
- Superintendent of an AVA Certified Practice.