One might think winning the Top Dog Award for Veterinarian two years in a row might go to Top Doc Kristin Sulis’s head. Not so. In describing her reaction, Sulis is quick to mention the big picture. “The best part of being recognized is realizing that other people are getting what you are trying to do,” she says.
When Sulis opened Mt. Tabor Veterinary Care in 2008 she had an ideal. “I wanted to change what the veterinary experience is like for people,” she says. “I wanted to give clients the opportunity to be involved in their pet’s care and provide a comfortable and caring environment for both pets and their human companions.”
It is Sulis’s commitment to this ideal that makes her so popular with her patients and their people. A typical visit with the doc at Mt. Tabor Vet involves lots of treats and extensive one-on-one “floor time.” What’s not experienced is Fido or Fluffy being whisked away for treatments. Sulis firmly believes that pets are more comfortable when their humans are nearby.
Sulis approaches veterinary care not so much as a service, but as a community. “We want you to sit down, have some coffee, and share your concerns and stories. We want your pets to feel safe and maybe even excited to come in. . . . You are not just coming in for pet care; you are coming into our ‘home.’”
And that care goes beyond Sulis’s “home,” into her patients’ homes. After all, pets don’t live at the vet. “We want to teach clients how to care for their pets medical needs and encourage them when they are asked to play nurse to their pets at home,” says Sulis.
Providing care, community and education is ongoing for Sulis, and this year she’s been busy growing her practice on Portland’s east side. Along with other hires, Sulis added Dr. Krissy Bussmann to her staff — who Dr. Sulis is quick to point out is this year’s #2 Top Dog in the Veterinarian category. As a believer in strong community, the two take a teamwork approach to veterinary medicine in which they take pride.
Perhaps her proudest success of the year was Mt. Tabor Veterinary’s 3rd annual Teddy Bear Surgery booth at the Belmont Street Fair last fall. The event teaches kids about diagnosis and medical procedure, using toys & candy cleverly concealed inside stuffed bears. It’s also plain fun. Sulis says, “We were mobbed! We helped children ‘save’ over 300 bears!”
While enumerating her year’s tangible successes, Sulis takes a philosophical detour. Though she appreciates the accolades, Sulis doesn’t always feel like the Superdoc she’s considered to be by clients, colleagues and peers. “I am definitely human, and feel the pressure of caring for our patients, their human companions, my staff, and my own pets,” she says. Perhaps it is this very concern that inspires such love and loyalty from her clients.
When feeling overwhelmed, Sulis says she gets therapy. “I walk into a room with a new puppy and let it crawl all over me and lick my face . . . and I hear the excitement in the client’s voice as they tell me all about the new addition to their family. That’s when I remember that I have the best job in the whole world.”
Jake Faris is a freelance writer who's worn many different hats, including a hardhat and the 8-point hat of a police officer. Jake and his wife Charity live with their three cats and four dogs in Beaverton. The whole pack moved to Portland from Wenatchee, Washington, years ago. Now a dedicated Oregonian, Jake finds new reasons to love his adopted state very day. Contact him here.