Veterinary assistants Katelyn Dewees and Rachel Miller and Dr. Wayne Ode are pleased to have a new veterinary clinic in Eyota after the building that the clinic occupied burned on Feb. 2, 2012. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Veterinary assistants Katelyn Dewees and Rachel Miller and Dr. Wayne Ode are pleased to have a new veterinary clinic in Eyota after the building that the clinic occupied burned on Feb. 2, 2012. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
It's a tail-waggin' good tale, with a healthy, cold-nose ending...

(Or beginning!)

"I'm in it for both," said Dr. Wayne Ode, of the newly reopened Eyota Veterinary Clinic.

Ode admitted he pursued a career in veterinary medicine for both the wagging tails and for the people who bring him the puppies, dogs and other critters to which those tails are attached. He also pointed out the pictures of happy, fur-friend-endowed families on his practice's walls. "It's an interesting job to do."

Ode graduated from veterinary school in 1971 and spent two years with the Peace Corps. He has practiced veterinary medicine since 1973, when he joined a dairy practice in Melrose, Minn., remaining with that practice until 1986, at which point he chose to work at the St. Charles Veterinary Clinic for the next 13 years. He ultimately decided, in 1999, that it was time to open his own clinic in Eyota.

Things were going well for the veterinarian until Ode was attending to business at the vet clinic's former location on the night of Feb. 2, 2012, when he realized the building was on fire.

"We used to own a shared building, and there was an accidental electrical fire in the adjacent part of the building," he recalled. "I was actually in the building when the fire started. I was hearing a noise, and I went to investigate. By that time, the fire was uncontrollable. There were three animals boarded at the clinic and I managed to get them out, along with a few other items, but the building was a loss."

The Eyota Veterinary Clinic was as homeless as a stray dog for the next weeks, searching for a place to put down its water and food dishes. However, Ode found the former Kwik Trip building, located on Highway 14, was in need of a tenant.

"As luck would have it, this building was actually available because the business here closed and the building had gone back to the bank," he said. "The bank let me move in here and we put up temporary screens and partitions. We were actually able to get back into business quickly - we opened sometime in March and were able to get things going. Last winter, we made the move to remodel the building, because banks don't like to own property very long and they gave me a very reasonable offer."

Establishing a new location allowed Ode to upgrade some of his equipment, such as installing a digital x-ray system, cold laser therapy and ultrasound, and also to set up his exam rooms the way they work best for the doctor, assistants and the furry patients.

"We've done some remodeling and I think this looks a lot better than it did...since we started out just with screens and partitions," Ode said. "We now have exam rooms and a lab, an operating room and boarding space for just a few animals. We're looking for a groomer, but we have to locate one yet."

The re-establishment process has come with a few trials, a serious bump to his head and some equipment shuffling, though the veterinarian truly appreciates the friends who've shown him and his staff that a few flames cannot extinguish longtime friendships.

Ode stopped taking calls for large animal services last spring after he fell and sustained an injury that sent him to the hospital.

"It's strictly small animals now," he commented. "We're still moving in and getting used to it here. The hard part is when I can't find something that I need...when you make a transition like this, things get put where it makes sense to one person, but not to me."

Still, he observed that he likes his new office and that having had to move in and remodel allows him to thank community members for their continued encouragement.

"It took a while for me to get the whole thing straight in my mind when we had the chance to reopen, but we went for it, and we've had good support from the community and from our clients," Ode added.

He also strives to provide good service at a reasonable cost. "We're looking forward to doing more of the same in our new location," he added. "It's nice to be able to have a sign out for people to see where they drive by. When we were in the middle of town, there was not a lot of traffic. Hopefully, we'll do more business."

Surveying his new exam rooms, he stated, "This is good. I think people are excited to see us move to a more permanent solution...I think they appreciate that a lot. I think people enjoy coming in."

The Eyota Veterinary Clinic's open house is set for this Friday, May 9, from noon to 6 p.m. Ode and his staff welcome visitors to explore the clinic and get comfortable enough to set snouts sniffing and tails wagging.

The clinic is open Mondays through Fridays, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call (507) 545-2828.