I’m Ricci Kelso, a veterinarian with a mission.
Welcome to my new blog.
I wanted to write a blog that lets me talk about something more than the nuts and bolts of being a vet. I want to talk about some of the things I experience in this job that have very little to do with traditional medicine and much more to do with healing, which I find to be, at least in part, a spiritual experience.
In the last few years as a practicing veterinarian, I have begun to focus on holistic medicine—particularly, how animals and people heal together. One of the really cool things I have noticed is that people and animals share the same conditions. For instance, if a dog comes in with a bad knee, the owner often has a bad knee also. Allergic dogs often have allergic owners. It is apparent to me that there is some sort of healing circle going on here. Part of my interest is in exactly how this healing system works. I’ve asked myself:
How can people help their pets heal and, by doing so, help themselves heal?
Questions like these have brought my attention to herbal medicine as well. A friend of mine once said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we got all the medicine we needed within a 50 mile radius of where we live?” That comment really intrigued me. It got me thinking that maybe someday I will be able to practice veterinary medicine that way.
I wasn’t always so into this herbalist / energy / cycle of healing stuff. That’s really evolved over the past 27 years I’ve been practicing veterinary medicine. I actually knew I wanted to be a vet from the time I was 12 years old, growing up on a hobby farm just outside of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Curly, our cow, was suffering from a vaginal prolapse, where the vagina gets pushed out of the body during pregnancy. The vet let me help him put it back in and then told me I was responsible for taking the stitches out in a couple of weeks since he would be too busy to visit our farm again.
I was taking out the stitches with my mom’s help, and in that moment, realized that as a veterinarian, I could help people and animals too. I always have loved animals, but the other, equally important part is the people on the other end of the leash or stall. That, for me, is the most rewarding part of this job—being able to help people by helping their animals.
|My family on the farm in 1974 (I'm second from the right)|
I had the passion from a young age, but it was my stubborn streak that wouldn’t let me take no for an answer where this career was concerned. Despite a devastating F in second semester physics, I kept on keeping on and eventually made it through veterinary school at the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1989.
For years I did mixed practice—dogs and cats and cows and horses—but eventually the livestock got too sparse to make a living at it. Plus, my shoulders and back were starting to wear out. So after 15 years of mixed practice, I limited my focus to small animals. I do miss the farmers and the farms, but somehow I don’t miss pulling calves at 2 a.m. on icy January mornings.
|Me in 1973, suffering through the mumps with the help of a furry friend|
|My younger brother Julian with our dog Leo and a passel of kittens|
|My brother Julian playing around with our cow Rosie|
|My first dog, a rat terrier mix named Cal|