Career reboot: Bye-bye computers, hello vet med

March 13, 2017
Mary Gardner, DVM
Mary Gardner, DVM

There is nothing better to Dr. Gardner than a dog with a grey muzzle or skinny old cat! Her professional goal is to increase awareness and medical care for the geriatric veterinary patient and to help make the final life stage to be as peaceful as possible, surrounded with dignity and support for all involved. A University of Florida graduate, she discovered her niche in end of life care and is the co-founder and CTO of Lap of Love, which has more than 130 veterinarians around the country dedicated to veterinary hospice and euthanasia in the home. Dr. Gardner and Lap of Love have been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, The New York Times, the Associated Press, The Doctors and numerous professional veterinary publications. You can usually find Dr. Gardner wherever the party isor the golf course!

I had a solid career with a bright future when I felt a crazy urge to quit my job and go to vet school.

Photos courtesy of Dr. Mary Gardner

I am the walrus, goo goo g'snooze

I sleep with a stuffed animal. It's a walrus a friend gave me years ago. It just fits under my arm perfectly and makes sleeping so comfy. I've even named him Merk, and he has traveled the world. Some people like to snuggle with a body pillow or regular pillow. I like my Merk. 

Follow your heart

The hardest career moment for me was not in veterinary medicine but in computer software design, which is where my adult work world started. I was very good at it. I had a solid career with a bright future and made a stable and positively increasing income. But then I had the crazy urge to quit and become a vet. I had to quit that stability, take undergraduate courses and apply for vet school with the hopes of being accepted in my 30s. I had so many people trying to discourage me-particularly veterinarians-saying how bad it is to be a vet. But they didn't stop me. I got in my first attempt (whew), and love our industry.


Dr. Mary Gardner with her partner, Dr. Dani McVety.Then listen to your gut

Leaving general practice to start Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice and In-Home Euthanasia with my partner Dr. Dani McVety was the easiest decision ever. I knew in my gut that it was a needed service, and to have the opportunity to try it with a close friend-even better! It hasn't always been an easy ride-there are lots of hurdles starting, running and growing a business-but I never had a doubt!


Be yourself

Everyone asks me, “How tall are you?” I'm 6-feet, 1-inch. No one asks if I'm an introvert. I'm clearly a massive extrovert! If I had a spirit animal, I think it would be the fictional character Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. Tigger is cheerful, outgoing and competitive in a friendly way, and he has complete confidence in himself. I would also bounce everywhere if I had the ability. Tigger also never gets lost-something I pride myself on.


Feed your body …  

My go-to health snack is grapes, but internally I'd wish they were bits of chocolate-my favorite!

And feed your soul

I can get very stressed with the amount of work piling up daily, on my lack of maintaining a good exercise regimen, and the multitude of other stressors. But I'll think of my cat Goldie or my dog Serissa. And although they are no longer with me, they were such a calming presence in my life that it still carries on even though they're gone. That or I'll eat chocolate (not grapes!).