MEET the DOCTOR
Amanda Durrill, DVM
Dr. Durrill is a 1998 graduate of Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She first fell in love with the Pacific Northwest in the early 1990’s, during a summer break spent with relatives on the San Juan Islands… which turned into a year off college and, later, a summer in Seattle with her brother. While most of her time was spent working in a busy restaurant kitchen, there was still time for day-hikes, to explore the waterfront and to learn about local wildlife while volunteering at a wildlife rehab center. She knew this was a place she would return to someday.
After veterinary college, Dr. Durrill decided to explore practice on the East Coast, viewed as a nearly foreign country, with the comment “I had a pickup truck, a u-haul trailer and my dog. I knew if I really didn’t like it, I could leave!” After nearly 10 years in eastern Pennsylvania, the opportunity came to follow that earlier NW experience, and return to the Seattle area. She had gained professional experiences starting with a busy small animal practice with outpatient satellite clinics, followed by a year in a rural mixed animal practice, seeing primarily the clients’ dogs and cats, but also working a bit with horses, sheep and cattle (“Pulling calves is fun! But the cows always seem to have trouble birthing at 2 in the morning in February, when it’s well below freezing!”), before finding herself at home in a local emergency practice that shared cases and the facility with veterinary specialists. She later transitioned to relief work in local practices, including the emergency hospital, before deciding to move closer to family in the Northwest.
It was during the year in farm practice that she discovered that one of the aspects of health care she most enjoyed was the house / farm call visit. Getting to know the clients, and seeing the home environment, allowed for both deeper bonds with the owners and more involved care for many of the pets and farm animals – a once-common model, that is often overlooked in the fast-paced environment that our profession has become in small animal medicine.
Later, the loss of her own dog was a profound reminder of the bond between pets and their people:
“Lumi, the German shepherd I adopted during veterinary college, who had been there all through school and the first several years of my career, suddenly could no longer stand and was in pain. At nearly 16 years of age, her mind was still bright, but her body was failing. She had had successful back surgery 3 years earlier in her lumbar spine, but now there were multiple discs in her neck that were unstable. Due to Lumi’s large breed size, discomfort and overall quality of life, she was not a good candidate for hospice care. Through the help and support of a very dear friend and fellow veterinarian, I was able to euthanize Lumi in a private home garden, with my younger dog, Giselle, present as well. While Lumi had no inherent fear of going to the vet’s office – at the emergency hospital, nearly every day was ‘Take your pet to work day,’ it still would have been more stressful. What a difference, to not have to be enclosed in an exam room, and to be able to grieve in private. Lumi was able to relax on a blanket outside, eating a hamburger and other treats until she was sedated.”
Those lasting memories are cherished still, and form the bedrock for Dr. Durrill’s commitment to low-stress, in-home pet care – especially for geriatric and terminally ill pets.