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And I Would Walk 500 Miles

Leo showing off his latest lost baby tooth. He is 6 1/2 years old. When did that happen?!

Behold, a brief (sort of) history of Dr. Magnusson’s journey.

(I realize there are only three people in the world who want to read this, and one of them is my mom, but here it is anyway)

February 2000: Fourth year of veterinary school at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada is almost complete; I’m three months away from graduation. True panic sets in, as I realize all my 18 years of training have taught me how to be a strong student, but I have no idea how to work at a real job, in the real world. Ack!

March 2000: Fail a surgery lab, decide the safest answer is to become an internal medicine specialist, which requires another four years of school. Whew! Reality, avoided. (for now…)

April 2000: Choose three cool locations to do an internship in California, and one from Indiana “just in case”.

May 2000: Match to the internship in Indiana, and none of the ones in Cali. Naturally. Oh well, I’m only in Indiana for one year, right?

June 2000: Realize “internship” was started by a private practice group as an excuse to bring in cheap intern labor for a brand new overnight emergency service, where I will be working by myself with one assistant all night, even though I have no idea how to be a veterinarian yet. Ack! Luckily, I also get to spend some of my weeks working day shifts at seven different local hospitals (OK, internship wasn’t all bad), and assisting two board-certified veterinary surgeons. Learn lots via trial-by-fire.

March 11, 2001: First date with Micaela, a receptionist who had just quit her job working at the private practice group. Fall in love immediately.

April 2001: Fail to get residency in internal medicine. D’ohh!

May 29, 2011: Tell Micaela my internship is ending and I’m moving back to Canada, and if she wants to come with me, she’ll have to marry me, and move away from everything she’s ever loved. In the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever seen, Micaela miraculously agrees. Sure, we’ve only known each other for 2 1/2 months, but she is clearly the One.

June 2011: Internship in Indiana ends, pack up Micaela and her dog and three cats into a sedan with no air conditioning, hauling a UHaul trailer full of our stuff to British Columbia, Canada.

July 2011: Reading an article in a newspaper in the lobby of a bank in Canada convinces me that I’ll pay my student loans off faster working in the Unites States. Accept a job in Gig Harbor, Washington.

February 2, 2002: Oli Magnusson, my father, dies of a heart attack while running on a treadmill at the gym, trying to get in shape. He was only 52. (I miss my dad…)

May 2002: Micaela gets homesick. Quit job in Gig Harbor (PRACTICE #1 I COULD HAVE BOUGHT, BUT DIDN’T), move back to Indiana to get married.

June 15 2002: Married in Indiana, no house, no job, living with Micaela’s parents.

June 27, 2002: Accept a job at a feline only practice in Bloomington, IN. Hmmm… maybe I’ll be a feline specialist!

October 2002: Four months later, cat vet employer decides she wants to work on horses instead. Asks $250,000 for the cat practice, which has yet to make a profit. Bank declines loan. (PRACTICE #2 I COULD HAVE BOUGHT, BUT DIDN’T)

December 29, 2002: Quit job at feline practice, move back in with Micaela’s parents. Feline practice goes out of business, closes doors. (That’ll learn ’em.)

February 2003: Accept a job working for two veterinarians who own a Banfield franchise, move to Carmel, IN. Owners promise me once I help build this franchise, they’ll help me start my own practice. Sweet!

March 2005: Two years later, colleague at Banfield buys the practice from the two veterinarian owners, leaving me out of a job. Which is fine, because the owners were going to help me start a practice anyway, right? Owners try to sell me a vacant building in Carmel that used to hold a veterinary clinic, for $1,000,000. Building is only worth $150,000. (NON-EXISTENT “PRACTICE” #3 I COULD HAVE BOUGHT, BUT DIDN’T) Instead, I research and then detail for these owners plans I’ve drawn up for a great location on the east side of Fishers, IN that would be perfect for a new veterinary hospital. Owners tell me what a terrible location the east side of Fishers is for a new practice, it’ll never work financially, and I need to find a new job.

April 2005: Accept a job at Best Reputation Animal Clinic (not their real name) in Indianapolis. Decide now I want to be a veterinary dentist, so every Thursday, I drive to Illinois to study and work side-by-side with a board-certified dental specialist.

October 2005: Turns out Best Reputation Animal Clinic doesn’t deserve their great reputation. Get into an ethical argument with management, and get myself fired. Good riddance.

November 2005: Job at Best Reputation Animal Clinic was so bad, that I say screw it, I’m going to be an industry veterinarian instead. Apply for work at every veterinary drug company in the country. Only get one interview for Novartis. Buy my first real suit. Fly to North Carolina for one interview, in new suit, but don’t get the job. (Novartis Animal Health later purchased by Elanco, company now no longer exists. That’ll learn ’em.)

November 2005: Ex-Banfield owners from March 2005 open a practice on the east side of Fishers, exactly where I told them a practice should go. PARTY FOUL! You guys stole my idea, no fair! (PRACTICE #4 I SHOULD HAVE OWNED, BUT DIDN’T)

December 2005: Give up on selling veterinary drugs, and become a relief veterinarian. Drive back to Bloomington two days a week and stay in a hotel so I can work at a different feline-only practice from the one I worked at in 2002. Also get a second job working overnight for VCA at an emergency clinic. Consider becoming an emergency and critical care specialist. Two part time jobs = full time work, happy me.

June 2007: Second feline practice owner tries to sell me his hospital, for more money than it was worth. (PRACTICE #5 I COULD HAVE OWNED, BUT DIDN’T) He finds a different buyer, so that job ends. Whoops! Still working 3-4 nights a week at VCA.

May 13, 2008: Leo Olafur Magnusson born. Hooray! Mom stays at home with baby, I’m still working 3-4 nights a week at VCA.

September 2008: Relief work rules! Lots of overnight emergency shifts, lots of day shifts, life is good….

October 2008 – March 2009: …oh wait, never mind, life not so good. Stock market crashes. Whoops!

March 2009 – December 2010: Veterinarians quit hiring, relief gigs slowly dry up one by one. Job outlook dismal. Leo is 18 months old.

January 2010: Epiphany: the only way I’ll ever be able to guarantee I’ll have work, and to teach my son how he can always have work, is to learn how to become a veterinary practice owner and teach Leo how to run his own business… even though I have no idea how to do that myself. Miraculously find a bank who wants to loan me $250,000 to start my very own clinic, that I name “Leo’s Pet Care” to remind me why I’m working so hard every day.

May 2010: Only one relief job left, two days a week. Leo is now 2 years old. Construction of Leo’s Pet Care is taking a long, long time. Hire our first employee, Jen Sloan Jen Dorfmeyer, who is still here almost five years later. Hiring her ends up being my most successful business decision ever.

August 29, 2010: Leo’s Pet Care opens! Bank requires me to keep working my part time relief gig as a condition of my loan, so new clinic is only open three days a week.

October 2010: Part time relief gig ends, as the owner hires a new grad full time. Whoops! Don’t tell the bank! With no other available sources of income, apparently Leo’s Pet Care is open six days a week now! I know we’ve only been open two months, but we have no other choice now, the practice simply has to work!

January 2012 – January 2015: Leo’s Pet Care wins FOUR Angie’s List Super Service Awards, and TWO Indy A-List “Best Veterinarians in Indianapolis” Awards. Look at us go, yay team!

So that’s my work history. Now you better understand why I’m so motivated to make this practice a success.

You also know more about my career experience. At times, I’ve practiced towards becoming a specialist in internal medicine, surgery, feline medicine, dentistry, industrial medicine, relief medicine, emergency and critical care, and finally, practice ownership.

Who knew, all that specialist training would end up being so useful one day?

And who knew, all those failed practices I didn’t end up owning, would lead me to starting Leo’s Pet Care?

Today’s lesson, 1000+ words later… in the words of one of my Krav Maga (martial art) instructors:

Hitting doesn’t make you strong. Taking hits makes you strong.”

And just wait until you hear the news we’ve got planned for 2015……

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