Vet retires after 45 years

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Throughout his career, John Keenan has strived to be a direct and honest veterinarian.

Now, exactly 45 years after his first day, he hangs up his stethoscope to spend more time “smelling the roses”.

The 67-year-old will retire from Mornington Veterinary Clinic at the end of the week after celebrating his professional birthday on Sunday.

He has been working at his sister site, St Kilda Veterinary Clinic, for about a month while the clinic in Mornington is temporarily closed.

Dr Keenan said the only reason he could last so long in the profession was because he got great job satisfaction.

People had deep bonds with their pets and he felt honored to be included in that when medical attention was needed.

He was always honest about the reality of the situation, including treatment options and costs, and the clients were grateful for that.

Some customers continued to “come back year after year” with their pets, which he appreciated.

He was most comfortable with cats and dogs, which made up almost all the animals they cared for.

However, he had worked on a bit of everything, including a wounded albatross.

While trying to inspect the wings, the bird touched both sides of the room, he said.

He graduated from Massey University in 1977 and spent the first year working in Levin, but had been in Dunedin ever since.

Although it was satisfying work, there were times when it was difficult.

The worst part was dealing with after-hours calls, which typically ranged from dogs eating chocolate to long lines of phone inquiries.

Combined with the continued shortage of vets making everyone in the industry busier, he decided it was “time to step back for a bit”.

“What I really want to do is take the time to smell the roses.”

He would continue to do irregular work to help keep the pressure on the system and to keep busy during his retirement.

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