Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My new inspiration -- Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald

My TV is programmed to tune in to Animal Planet's Emergency Vets every single day. I get an adrenalin rush watching the vets examine their patients, making quick diagnoses and then hurrying off to the surgical room to do their thang.

I smile when an animal recovers and moan when one has to be put down. I laugh when a pup or cub falls over backwards in play and freeze when an x-ray of a broken back is shown.

In other words, I'm addicted to this show.

So imagine my delight when I found out that one of my favourite Vets from the show, Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, started out in Veterinary Medicine pretty late in life. It took him a long time to finally get accepted into Vet School, something he very nearly did not do if not for a very unlikely source of motivation -- The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards.

The signature silver locks and moustache -- Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald

Title: General Practitioner

Nickname: Fitz

Hometown: Denver, Colo.

The path to becoming a veterinarian is never easy, but Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald learned that a longer journey makes for a better adventure.

After graduating from the University of Colorado, he applied to vet school. "I didn't get in," he recalls." But they said, "Show us that you're serious. Do something in the field and apply again. Most people don't get in the first time anyway."

"So I stayed in school and got my master's and my Ph.D. Next up was a job teaching at the University of Hawaii. And then, eight years later I finally got into vet school."

Spending so much time in school gave the future doctor his summers off. He spent that time working as a bouncer and touring with the likes of The Rolling Stones, George Clinton, Willie Nelson, The Who, Bob Marley and even Elvis.

Dr. Fitzgerald graduated from vet school at Colorado State University in 1983 and joined the staff of Alameda East in 1985. In 15 years of service he has seen thousands of domestic pets and has become one of the leading exotic-animal veterinarians in Denver. His workdays at Alameda frequently trail into the night, but Dr. Fitzgerald still recognizes that even a huge caseload is made up of individuals.

"Some people might see the next patient as a number, but I see them as a member of somebody's family. If an owner thinks that it's important enough to call me, then I think it's important to see them."

Dr. Fitzgerald specialises in exotic animals.

Despite countless cases and showbiz experience under his belt, Dr. Fitzgerald still hasn't fully adjusted to being on a television show. "You never get used to the camera. When you're in the heat of the moment it can be a little intimidating. Sometimes I watch a moment on the show and wish I had it back, wish I would have said something different. It's like perpetually being on a first date and having her dad in the back seat making sure you're not holding hands."

Never one to waste a moment, Dr. Fitzgerald has numerous hobbies. His newest interest is tap dancing. "I joined a group called the Whirling Dervishes. I was the oldest. I was 48 and the second oldest was 8."

Citing age differences, Dr. Fitzgerald eventually left the group and now incorporates dancing into his comedy routine. "The parents were horrified and threw me out of the group. But they were holding me back. So now I know what Miss Diana Ross felt like."

"So now, my brother and I got a little deal at this pasta place on Sunday nights where we play guitars and then he plays guitar and I tap dance around him. We call it the Shamrock Rabbit's Foot Minstrels. We got a guy who jumps off ladders and lands on his chest, and then we got these pigs that can do different things. It's kinda like bad entertainment from the third century B.C. You know like when Nero or somebody would clap his hands and say 'Bring in the pigs that blow trumpets!'" He laughs. "So the people get the taste of being a Caesar, I think."

Before he was a vet, he was a bouncer.

If you're interested, there are some really interesting video interviews right here. I also recommend that you watch the video of Dr. Fitzgerald narrating the story of how his bulldog made a meal of 26 ferocious dinosaurs.

~5-Cat Style


Kaze, Latte, or Chase said...

That is a great show and he is a wonderful vet! I think he is a wonderful person to look up to.


Daisy said...

I LOVE Emergency Vets, and Dr. Fitzgerald is my favorite. He is so kind and gentle with all of the animals, even snakes and turtles! I like his voice too, it is very soothing. I wish he was my vet!

The Knitter said...

Great article and very inspiring. We have a similar kind of program here in Ireland though none of the participants would admit to being inspired by Keith Richards !

Victor Tabbycat said...

Bombay, Mom an Dad an the boy are out huntin, like efurry day. The boy wanted skool to close an Mom didn't take her green monster wif wheels. I guess it's not enuf snow to stop fings. Bonnie's still moanin bout the fountain. I'll send her to bisit you to take her mind offa it.

Caesar + Princess said...

Dr. Fitzgerald is a great guy. We enjoy watching him also.
He seems very calm and confident!

Parker said...

Mommy has a secret crush on him, she thinks he's "da bomb!

Derby said...

Hmmm, I will have to have mum put this on the TV. I don't think I have seen this before.

But see, you can do this!

Beau Beau & Angie said...

He's a cool lookin' dude!