Some weeks after the funeral of a deceased parent, a middle-aged man commented that much as he missed his parent, he missed his dog that recently died even more. That middle-aged man is among the many for whom the retirement of a vet can be as problematic as the retirement of a family doctor.
Dr. Daniel Lavoie, who closed his Clinique vétérinaire Val-St-François at the end of June after almost three decades of serving the area, is a vet who will be missed.
“I enjoyed my work,” he says. “I consider myself lucky to have been able to have done the work I did for as long as I did.”
Daniel Lavoie could easily never have become a vet, and his career as a veterinary doctor came frighteningly close to an abrupt end in 2010.
“I had a heart attack,” he recalls, “and I was resuscitated twice while I was on the operating table. I’ve been fine since then, and I feel good. One of the reasons I chose to retire now is to permit me to take advantage of the time I have left while I’m still active and healthy.”
Daniel Lavoie was born in St-Rémi-de-Napierville, a town of about 7000 inhabitants on the South Shore of Montreal. His father was a butcher and his parents owned and operated a small grocery store of the type that started giving way half a century ago to the large chain stores like Provigo and IGA.
As a high school student he had thought of perhaps going into medicine but different factors, including his mother’s declining health led him to ignore post-secondary education and find work.
When he did finally enrol in Cégep it was for evening classes and it was to follow a course in graphic design. Working days and studying nights, it took him three and a half years to finish Cégep.
He might well have had a long and happy career as a graphic designer had the company he was working for not changed hands.
“At the time,” he says, “one of my brothers-in-law had gone back to school for a university degree, and that prompted me to go and see a pedagogical counsellor at the Université de Montréal.”