Why a Golden Retriever's veterinarian is so important to one Navy man


Who makes the top brass stop and take notice? You do.

What does the happiness of a Golden Retriever have to do with helping secure the free world? A lot, it turns out.

While I watched “Meet the Press” a few Sundays ago, Martha Raddatz was reporting on the ISIS threat from Manama, the capital of the small island country Bahrain near the western shores of the Persian Gulf where the U.S. Fifth Fleet was based. Then it dawned on me. I knew a very important pet owner in Bahrain.

Last summer during my and my wife's vacation, we met Rear Admiral James T. Loeblein. He had just made it through the U.S. Navy's Admiral selection board and was heading to Bahrain to assume the position of Deputy Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral James T. Loeblein (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Jim and his wife, Carol, were on a getaway vacation, and besides liking the quiet beach and watching pelicans glide by, there wasn't much to do besides talk. And what could a CPA who works with veterinary practices and a Navy Admiral have in common? Golden Retrievers.

Jim asked if I knew anything about military veterinarians in my line of work. I told him I knew that the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps is the primary provider of veterinary care on all Navy, Army and Air Force installations worldwide and their veterinarians are responsible for food safety and inspection. Why did I know this off the top of my head? I told him that my tradeshow booth was situated next to the Corps' booth two years in a row. I could quote the pitches they gave word for word. I also said I knew the Corps would pay off $120,000 in student loans while under commitment, which is a viable option for some graduates crushed by debt. He was duly impressed.

Turns out the family dog would be accompanying Jim and Carol to Bahrain. He asked me if I knew the first thing he did when visiting Bahrain on his pre-move trip. I said no since I didn't feel adequately prepared to discuss what Admirals do on the job. Jim said his first order of duty on the base was to visit the Army veterinarian to check out the facilities. If he was comfortable with what he saw, he knew Carol would be happy. Both Carol and my wife, Kathy, measure “overall Golden Retriever happiness” readings 24/7.

As I sat in front of the TV during a “Meet the Press” commercial, I got to thinking about all the articles in journals and online about veterinarians feeling unappreciated, unloved and generally trodden upon by the pet owner public. Well, the Rear Admiral is an example of a pet owner with the true “weight of the world” on his mind who is so concerned about his pet that he made a beeline to the veterinarian first time on the base.

If you need a little professional boost, a reminder of how important people think you are, there it is.

Mark McGaunn, CPA, CFP, works with veterinarians and veterinary practices at the veterinary and financial planning McGaunn and Schwadron CPAs in Needham Heights, Massachusetts.


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