After 34 years of providing veterinary services to thousands of dogs and cats, not to mention the occasional ferrets, rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and rabbits, Dr. Alan E. Marsh of Woodinville Animal Hospital will see his last patients on May 29.
He’s been semi-retired since last August when he shifted to part-time hours and gladly gave up the administrative part of the job, something not taught when he went to vet school.
Marsh grew up in Iowa City, Iowa, where he met his wife Marilyn. He went to college, then served four years as a Navy pilot before graduating from Iowa State University’s veterinary program in 1976. After three years in small animal care in the Chicago area, he and his wife were ready for a change.
At a national American Veterinary Association conference held in Seattle in 1979 he learned the Woodinville Animal Hospital was on the market, but a pending sale was going through. He gave Dr. B. J. Raume his contact information anyway, and asked her to call him if the sale didn’t work out.
Three weeks later, he got a call saying the sale fell through, and the clinic was his if he still wanted it. On Nov. 1, 1979 he began his practice in a little yellow house on the main street of Woodinville. It was moved to its present location just south of town on 140th Place NE in June 2001.
Marsh’s career has focused on small animals. “I’m a city boy. I never had any exposure or experience with farm animals except for what I was required to do in veterinary college. I decided I didn’t know anything about those animals,” he said.
He taught his wife to help assist him in surgeries when they first opened their practice here. They would put their young son in a playpen while operating.
“People would come in with goats, pot-bellied pigs, or sheep anyway, where along the main street he even delivered a lamb one time,” his wife Marilyn recalled.
In the early years, the majority of animals he saw were dogs and cats, but he also saw enough pet rats that he became known as “The Rat Man” in town. Now, he estimates 98 to 99 percent of all animals seen at the clinic are dogs and cats, followed by what he calls “pocket pets” and exotic animals.
Pocket pets? “Hamsters, gerbils, mice and rats,” he explained, saying any animal that could fit into a pocket. “We rarely see anything exotic now, but occasionally see a wild animal.”
Marsh has a lot of fond memories and has been an active citizen in the community through the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club of Woodinville, both of which he served in leadership positions before finally stepping away from active participation last year.
He got to know our paper’s founder Carol Edwards well in those early years in town. “Carol decided the town was in the doldrums in December of about 1977 or 1978 and needed perking up, and so she grabbed me and we went around businesses and sang carols and handed out some kind of gift,” he recalled.
It makes sense that Edwards knew to grab Marsh, as one of his lifelong hobbies has been singing folk music and playing guitar, something he plans to spend more time pursuing in retirement.
He and his wife, Marilyn, also have plans to travel with trips planned to South Africa, the East Coast, and New Mexico.
What’s Marsh going to miss the most? “I’m going to miss coming to work seeing the staff. I’m going to miss them. And, I love to schmooze with the puppies on the exam table. I like cats and kittens and their antics,” he said.