Dr. Louis Bach has been practicing veterinary medicine from his office at the corner of Routes 30 and 74 for 35 years. And while he has been completing check ups, conducting surgeries, and, earlier in his career, even keeping farm animals in good health, Bach has also watched his profession undergo a profound transformation.
"It's becoming more and more sophisticated," Bach said of advances like MRIs, ultrasounds and more in veterinary medicine. "Today's veterinary students are determining the sex of fetuses in cows, and we used to try and tell if they were pregnant or not."
Bach has kept up with the latest developments in his field through lectures and journals, but he has a unique resource for staying on the cutting edge; his own daughter will soon graduate with a degree in veterinary medicine.
"The new vets have a lot more to learn," he noted. "There's a lot more technical material."
The Changing Face of Veterinary Practices
But for Bach, the increase in technology is far from being the only change he has noticed in veterinary medicine since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania 40 years ago.
One-man practices such as his are becoming rarer and rarer with emergency clinics and multiple-veterinarian practices multiplying to fill the void.
"The single man practice is a dying breed," Bach said. He recalled earlier days in his career when he would work 24/7. His beeper would commonly interrupt family dinners and holidays as emergency calls came in.
And the Bach family played an active role in the Tolland practice, as well. Bach remembered on one occasion, he was performing a C-section on a Beagle carrying 12 puppies. As Bach performed the surgery, his wife Kathy was at his side, performing the essential tasks of cleaning the puppies' faces and stimulating respiration.
At times, his children would even assist him when they were old enough, Bach said.
"It truly was a vocation for all of us. You have to have a very understanding family," Bach remarked.
In addition to performing surgeries and check ups on pets, Bach also used to make calls to farms to care for cows, horses and other large animals.
Back then, a veterinarian's days stretched on and on, Bach said, starting with morning hours at the office, working farm calls until 2 p.m., followed by evening office calls and surgery at night.
Bach only works with pets nowadays, but he still puts in long days with appointments and continues to perform surgeries. However, as a general practicioner, he also makes recommendations for specialists to his clients, to ensure they get the best care.
For Bach, who also spent some time as a teacher, he always wants to make sure that owners are making informed choices.
"I always try to tell my clients what they should be doing to care for their animal and why they should doing it," he said.
But Then Again, Some Things Never Change
However much technology has progressed, some parts of Bach's job remain the same, including what may be the biggest obstacle in any veterinarian's work.
"My patients don't talk to me. I have to rely on my client's eyes, ears and nose for what's going on," Bach said.
And while the 'language barrier' can make diagnosis a bit more difficult, Bach said that guiding an animal and its owners through health troubles has always been enough of a reward for his hard work.
"I get a great deal of satisfaction of knowing I've helped an animal out. And when a dog or cat comes in, there's always a human being attached. It's not just the animals, but the people, too."
Bach has no definitive plans to retire in the near future. Pet owners can find his practice on the corner of Route 30 and 74 in Tolland, otherwise known as the home of the "oreo-cookie" cows. Click on the Tolland Patch directory listing for contact information.