When it comes to choosing a veterinary practice, you want to find the one that has animal obsessed staff. You want to know that the team are devoted to caring for your pet and the service you receive. Our owner Julia Mewes has a naturally compassionate disposition and has been fanatical about animals for as long as she can remember.
Here’s her story:
“My brother and I were always very frustrated in our aspirations as children. We were obsessed with horses and riding, but unfortunately our parents didn’t have the funds to allow us lessons. I therefore found myself at the age of 12 cheerfully mucking out stables all day long at the local riding school in exchange for precious minutes atop a horse at the end of the day.
“It wasn’t until years later that I discovered my father had been in the same position as me as a child; constantly being sent back to the pet shop with animals he had acquired without permission.
“During my youth my family and I holidayed in Devon once a year. It was here that we would visit a farm for a supply of Devonshire clotted cream. I had no interest in the cream; I always wanted to know if there were any calves, foals, puppies or kittens that I could see. The kind farmer’s wife would direct me to the baby creatures and it was there that I would adoringly remain until I was dragged away.
“I was always the girl at school that wanted to help. I fondly recall the time a group of girls rushed to find me when they found a little bat trapped in the bowl of a toilet. Of course at the time I had no idea how to help, but it was assumed that I did. I fished the creature out on the end of a pole before leaving it to dry out on the windowsill. I left a note on the toilet that read ‘unavailable for now’, and was ecstatic to learn upon my return that the bat had departed on its own accord.
“Throughout my childhood I was obsessed with animal stories such as Black Beauty, White Fang and All Creatures Great and Small. I also believe my fate was sealed when the fabulous James Herriott series began on TV; however I didn’t even consider a career in veterinary science until I was 15.
“At the boarding school I attended we were encouraged to think about the careers we wished to embark upon. We sat a suitability test and mine indicated that I should think about a career as a vet.
“From that day on I could think of nothing else. My teachers and mentors told me there was no hope joining such a male dominated, challenging profession. Those statements naturally made me 100 times more determined to achieve.
“During the next school holiday I biked to my local veterinary practice. I had never owned a pet, nor been to a practice, and yet I found myself in the waiting room; the only visitor without an animal. I entered a consulting room for the very first time and was asked by the young, attractive vet how he could help. I almost died of embarrassment when I replied that I was interested in a career in veterinary medicine, but needed a better understanding of the industry than what I had learned from the TV.
“To my amazement the vet invited me back the following Thursday to spend the day watching him work. Overwhelmed, I spent the entire week waiting for the day to arrive and when it did, my expectations were exceeded. I observed the vet make confident decision, provide solutions to every problem and attend to all pets and their owners with tremendous respect. I was hooked and no longer interested in any other future.
“Thereafter, all my effort was focussed on getting a place at Vet School. I persuaded my Head Mistress to allow me to take 4 A-Levels which required a re-vamp of the entire school’s timetable. She forecast I would fail; instead I went on to gain 4 A Grades, having already gained A Grades in all of my O-Levels.
“I was accepted into Trinity College in Cambridge and spent 6 years there immersing myself in the whole scene. As well as taking part in a number of extra-curricular activities, I remained focussed. There were huge amounts of academic study and I used every holiday as an opportunity to gain practical experience; first on farms, in stables and kennels, and later in all kinds of veterinary practices. Twice I visited Eire where I survived solely on the breakfast I was provided by my B&B (I was a very poor student) before getting drenched in turns. It was all worth it when I was granted permission to ride the racehorses at the end of the day. I finally achieved my goal in 1989 when I added MA, VetMB and MRCVS after my name.
“My next goal was to find a suitable job where I could become as skilled a practitioner as possible. I spent 7 years as an employed veterinary surgeon and was second in command for the latter 5 years. I loved every moment of this role; especially building relationships with families and their pets, and helping them to solve their problems within their budget.
“After a while I became aware that lots of clients were driving rather considerable distances to visit me. I also soon learnt that a common complaint about neighbouring practices was ‘I never see the same vet twice’. My next challenge had been decided for me.
“I discussed my plans with my boss and she encouraged me to take a leap of faith and set up my own practice. In 1996, I became the proud owner of my 4 Haywards Road practice, and the rest is history.”