This particular doctor helps the mostly four-legged creatures among us, and does it from a work base on four wheels—not to mention that her clients are in two states separated by mountain ranges and the Mississippi.
After working in veterinary clinics for about 10 years, Alison Green Hanson ’90 decided to start a different kind of practice. “Lots of clients had asked me if I would ever consider making house calls,” she says, “and Iwas enchanted by the idea of the ‘All Creatures Great and Small,’ old-timey veterinarian who comes to people’s homes and ends up taking care of the whole family, not just the pets! It seemed like a simpler, more practical, friendlier way of practicing medicine.”
Now with a mobile vet practice in Telluride, Colorado, and another in Wilmington, North Carolina, Hanson works part time in both places from her trusty truck. September through May she is in Telluride, then in Wilmington June through August, spending the summers there with her children and near other family. “I’m always working around moming simultaneously,” she says.
“We lived in Wilmington full time for 10 years, so I accumulated lots of wonderful clients there. When we decided to move to Telluride in 2013, many of my Wilmington clients wanted to wait for me to return the following summer so that I could see their pets for their annual exams, vaccinations, etc., rather than finding a new vet,” Hanson says.
That started an annual cycle where she would return to North Carolina each summer and see the same clients and pets, who had waited all year for her to get back. “It’s an amazing group of folks,” she says. “Meanwhile, I have equally loyal clients in Telluride who put up with me being gone and are there waiting when I return in the fall.”
As for what it’s like to live it two places part of each year, Hanson says, “It’s perfect for my nature and my family. Telluride is a tiny town and the winter’s very long—there’s snow on the ground nine months out of the year, and snow is not unheard of there in June. My sun-craving heart is only too eager and grateful to get back to the ocean the minute my kids get out of school. My children are equally thrilled to get back ‘home’ to Southern culture, family, and friends each summer, and to get some oxygen, both literally and figuratively.
“We moved to Colorado because my husband bought a place in 1990, and we decided our kids needed skiing to be a major part of their lives,” says Hanson. “Benji, 7, is a hockey star and ski fanatic, and he and his buddies are known around town as the ‘little rippers.’ Liza Jane, 12, is also a big skier, big-time student, writer, and is learning lacrosse. Our oldest, Zella, 14, now schooling online, plans to attend a hardcore pre-professional ballet program.”
Hanson admits there are limitations to practicing medicine outside of a clinic or hospital, but says, “I had lots of support from vets in the community, who welcomed my bringing patients to their hospitals if or when needed. I predicted, and was correct, that the bonds I would form with pets and their owners would be much stronger if I was able to take care of the pets in their own homes.”