What is a Veterinary Receptionist?

Maureen and I both enjoy working as receptionists at Oakview. We like interacting with all the interesting people and pets who come through our doors. We are pretty different with different backgrounds, so we compliment each other nicely. We’d like to tell you about our job as veterinary receptionists!

The Front Lines

The job may seem pretty straight forward. We answer phones, schedule appointments, and check patients in and out. But the truth is that everything that happens at Oakview begins and ends in reception. We are the front lines. If you want to see or talk to a doctor or technician, you must go through us. You may even find at times that we are protective of the rest of the staff! We are very aware of their time constraints and what they are dealing with at any time of day. We take a lot of messages in order to keep the clinic running smoothly. You would be surprised how many calls technicians have to make in a day! The tricky part is figuring out if a call is a medically urgent one or if it can wait until later for callback. We have each had training in medical issues, so we know the questions to ask to determine if you are having an emergency or an urgent situation that cannot wait. If we don’t know, our awesome staff of techs, assistants, and doctors can help us.

Karen - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI
Maureen - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI

The Police of the Lobby

We have also been called “The Police of the Lobby”! It is our job to make sure that every person and pet is safe. This is why we may ask you to use a leash or rein in that retractable leash (retractable leashes on their own can cause problems, and we have seen this happen at Oakview). We also separate pets into our two lobbies or into exam rooms to keep the peace. There are times when clients don’t even realize a situation is developing and may wonder why we rushed them into a room. We have to know how to recognize the body language of fearful and/or aggressive dogs. Lots of folks think a veterinary clinic lobby is a fun place where your pet can meet other animals. Unfortunately, it is not. It is a hospital waiting room. That means that many pets are sick or hurt. So, the lobby is not the place for fun. We actually try to prevent pets from meeting. This is a very difficult part of our job because clients often don’t understand. Just yesterday, a puppy was waiting in the lobby. Another client came in with a dog on a retractable leash and allowed their dog to “rush” the puppy already there. This can make any animal nervous, especially in the overstimulating environment of a vet clinic. The owners of the dogs thought it was great fun. They did not see the puppy’s anxious and defensive posturing. No one can imagine their sweet pet being aggressive, but you really can’t blame them if another dog is rushing at them uncontrollably. And besides, we absolutely don’t want this kind of stress for our patients. We separated these dogs immediately.

Remember that a vet clinic lobby is actually a hospital with sick, injured, and anxious pets who aren’t feeling well enough for meet and greets!

Sometimes we work long hours. Our “closing” times don’t mean much as far as when we actually leave. The doors may get locked, but no one leaves until the work is done. It can be difficult to miss so many family dinners, but it is worth it for us to be able to help so many pets and their people.

Although we are front desk staff, it’s everyone’s job to keep the clinic clean, so we have to take care of any “accidents” in the lobby. We also help clean exam rooms. So, we get our hands dirty, too!

Overall, we enjoy meeting the wide variety of people and pets that come through our doors. We get satisfaction from knowing the pets here get a high quality of care. We try to give that same quality of care to their owners. We know how anxious you can be when your pet is sick, and we want to be there for you. Thank you for letting us help you and your pets!

written by Karen Russell and Maureen Shewmake

Karen - Oakview Vet - Plover Stevens Point WI

Karen moved into our area in 2012, and we are so happy she chose to work at Oakview! She brings with her experience gained at other clinics and a fresh perspective.

Karen shares her life with her fiance Tim.





Maureen - Oakview Vet Stevens Point Plover WI

Maureen joined us in 2016. She was born and raised in Illinois, and after some time in Florida, she moved here in 2011.
Maureen shares her home with her husband, three children, and dog “Buddy.”
In her free time, Maureen enjoys camping, watching sports, and spending time with her family.


Lobby Etiquette at the Vet Clinic

Bringing your pet to the vet clinic can be stressful for both of you.  In previous blogs we have talked about Fear Free visits.  We went over procedures to keep your cats and dogs stress free and proper ways to transport your pets. Your and your pet’s etiquette in the lobby makes a big difference in how the visit goes in general. In this blog we will provide information to help make it more pleasant while arriving and waiting for your appointment.

Check your pet’s collar/harness and leash before leaving your home.  Harnesses often work better, because  they don’t pull on their neck. Whichever you use, it should be snug enough so your pet will not slip out of it but not so tight that it harms them.  One way to tell that a collar is fitted correctly is by putting two of your fingers between your pet’s neck and the collar.  We strongly recommend regular leashes because they give you much better control. Even if your dog is always well-behaved, you may find that with the sights, sounds and smells of the clinic they may get distracted and not listen to you! If you do use a retractable leash make sure it is locked with your pet close to you before exiting your vehicle. If you are bringing a cat or other small animal to the clinic we recommend a pet carrier, although some cats enjoy harnesses! For most cats and small animals, a carrier will make them feel more secure and safe. The carriers that are made of molded plastic or heavy canvas are preferred as they allow the pet to feel visually secure and they can easily be opened or taken apart so that the pet does not have to be “dragged” or forced out of the carrier. The open, wire cage-type carriers are less desirable because the animal has nowhere to hide and feels quiet vulnerable if there are other pets in the waiting area!

Lobby Etiquette - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI
A typical scene in our lobby. Notice the pet has gone around the corner unsupervised and could meet up with an aggressive dog!

Arriving at the Vet Clinic

Once you arrive at the clinic do not let your pet out of your car unless they are on a leash or in a carrier.  You do not want to put your pet in danger of having an unanticipated encounter with another pet or running away.  Even if they are very good and listen they may be stressed or scared therefore they may run or go after another pet or human. If you do not have a leash, please come in and ask to use one of ours.  If your pet is small and is not in a carrier let the receptionist know so they can find an exam room for you to go into.

Cat in a harness - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WIDog Harness Lobby - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI


Upon arrival your pet may need to use the bathroom after a stressful ride so let them walk around outside for a while. When entering the clinic lobby make sure you enter before your pet.  You want to make sure it is safe and that you are aware of the surroundings before they enter. Please keep your pet close to you on a leash or in a carrier until you get into a room. Be considerate of the other pets in the clinic lobby.  Many are scared, not feeling well, or do not want to interact with other pets or people. You should always ask the owner if it is okay for you or your pet to socialize with theirs.

Never reach out to touch someone else’s pet without asking

Space Etiquette for dogs - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI

Please keep cats and other small animals in their carriers on our “Carrier Parking” shelves.  These shelves have been made specifically to keep them out of the reach of other pets and help them feel safe.  Let the receptionist know if your pet is stressed so they can get you into a room as soon as possible.  We also have bandannas, towels and blankets that we can spray with calming pheromones (Adaptil  for dogs and Feliway  for cats) to help keep your pet calm. Our clinic has ten staff members who are certified Fear Free and we are a Cat Friendly Practice!

After your visit you will again find yourself in the lobby (ideally on the other side from where you entered). All of the same etiquette rules apply as you leave the clinic. As pets are leaving they may be even more excited and are likely to want to run and jump, sometimes at other pets and people. Although you know your pet is just excited, that can be very scary for the owner and the pet that your pet is approaching!  Walk out the door before your pet so you can assess the situation outside.  Keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier until they are safely in the vehicle.

By following these easy suggestions we can work together to make sure your pet has the best possible experience at Oakview!

written by Pat Eckes and Tammy Novotny

Pat - Oakview Vet Stevens Point Plover WI

Pat grew up near Mosinee, WI on a dairy farm, where her family had cows, chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs, ducks and all the extra wild animals that came around. She joined Oakview in 2009.

Pat and her husband have 2 children and six grandchildren. Pat enjoys cooking and gardening.



Tammy - Oakview Vet Stevens Point Plover WI

Tammy began working with us in April 2017. She was born and raised in Auburndale.

Tammy shares her life with her husband Derek and two children, Kendall aged 7 and Devin aged 5. Her hobbies include volleyball, photography, and painting.

Jack’s Ray of Light: Canine Laser Therapy

This article will first allow you to get to know a little about Jack’s riveting “tails” and how as a senior dog low level laser therapy (LLLT) helped his quality of life. According to Jack’s Owners: “If we had it to do over again, we would have tried laser therapy first, before any other treatment. The staff were amazing and always worked with Jack like he was a member of the family; his quality of life improved immensely and worth every penny.

Meet Jack

Meet Jack, a 14 year old black Labrador retriever who had been coming to Oakview Veterinary Medical Center (OVMC) for over a decade and many at the clinic have been blessed to have watched him grow into such an amazing dog. He was a gentle soul, always eager to please and with his happy-go-lucky can do attitude had everyone at “Woof”. Jack would light up the room when he pranced in, tail wagging and a beaming smile on his face like he had no cares in the world befriending anyone around. Brimming with enthusiasm, this fearless warrior would hold his head high no matter what procedure was thrown his way never wavering away from his loving and tractable nature.

Jack's laser - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI

Jack, a bright-eyed black lab would come to OVMC for routine wellness examinations that included updating vaccines such as DAPP (Distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and Parvo virus), Lyme, Leptospirosis, Bordetella (Kennel Cough) and got his yearly heartworm check with a tick exposure test.

Also, during these visits the doctors would perform a physical examination looking in his ears and eyes, checking the mouth and teeth, feeling the his lymph nodes and performing range of motion techniques on his limbs looking for any discrepancies that could affect Jack’s well-being.

Another wellness examination Jack took part in was Senior Wellness Screen which is recommended for senior and geriatric patients to help detect minor changes that can be interpreted as the onset of disease or worsening of existing conditions. The screening process starts with the physical examination and some diagnostic testing that include urinalysis, complete blood count, thyroid panel and biochemistry blood testing but depending on a pet’s condition there could be more diagnostic testing recommended.

Jack had been to OVMC for not so routine visits as well. One of these visits was when he was about 12 weeks old and somehow this curious black lab puppy got his paw twisted in the wires of his kennel and injured his left paw. After taking x-rays the doctors noted that he had a transverse distal fracture to the 2nd and 3rd digits (broken toes!). Treatment at that time was to clip and clean the affected area, apply a splint, and a mild pain medication. The owners had the toughest job though, keeping a puppy’s activity restricted for weeks to allow the fractured bones to mend and not letting that splint get wet. After a couple splint changes and exercise restriction, Jack was ready to leave that altercation in the past. Other non-routine visits that he was seen for included skin and ear infections, rodenticide poisoning, and gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea. The doctors and staff also got to enjoy Jack’s invigorating aura when he came to stay for boarding and laser therapy visits.

Jack becomes a senior

As Jack aged so did his body, and by late 2012 at the age of 9 his owners noticed that he was starting to exhibit some mobility issue such as difficulty jumping on and off furniture, trouble getting up from laying position, limping and lameness, and difficulty going up and down stairs.

Jack's Laser - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI

Promptly the owners started Jack on glucosamine which is a natural compound found in healthy fluid and cartilage around the joints. It is classified as a nutritional supplement and is gathered from shells and shellfish or synthesized in a laboratory. The idea behind the use of glucosamine is that it hampers inflammation and regenerates cartilage cell growth and can be used in conjunction with a chondroitin to strength the cartilage.

Jack was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and suspected hip dysplasia in 2013 and was started on Rimadyl which is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and a pain medication called Tramadol (opioid analgesic) along with the glucosamine supplement. This treatment allowed provisional relief for the next few years letting Jack do the things he loved such as going for walks, playing around the yard, scavenging for food, and all the little things that get harder to do with age.

In 2015, Jacks owners noticed his symptoms were becoming more frequent and intensifying. At one of his visits the doctor recommended adding gabapentin to his regiment of pharmaceutical medications. Gabapentin is used both in human medicine and small animal practices. It is an anticonvulsant originally made to treat seizures associated with epilepsy, but now it is widely used to relieve neuropathic pain. The doctors also recommended changing Jack from oral glucosamine to an injectable medicine called Adequan. This medicine is a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan and can inhibit bad enzymes that breaks down cartilage in dogs joints. They also suggested trying something relatively new to many clinics called low level laser therapy.

From 2015 to 2018, Jacks owners managed his mobility conditions to the best of their abilities and looked forward to everyday they got to spend with their beloved pet. Taking on new challenges along the way, Jack’s human parents were faced with some new symptoms suspicious of cognitive disease (senility) that included pacing, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, disorientation, and weight loss. To top it off, Jack was having episodes of fecal and urinary incontinence and intermittent diarrhea. A few more medications were added to Jacks arsenal to help with the new conditions that arose.

It is hard to watch a longtime friend and companion get older and go through these difficult times, but one is willing to do what they can to make their pet the most comfortable while fretting the decisions that lie ahead. Taking into consideration Jack’s quality of life, his owners decided to discontinue some medications and use others on an as needed basis while weighing their options for what best suited Jack’s needs. His devoted owners decided to try laser therapy, a non-invasive procedure that increases circulation by reducing inflammation and the associated pain.

Jack starts laser therapy

Jacks owners stated “By the time we tried laser therapy, Jack was on nearly every pharmaceutical treatment available and I was a bit skeptical that laser therapy (or anything new) would help, but we decided to give it a try.”

Jacks first laser appointment was on January 20th 2018 and the targeted treatment areas that were focused on were his hips and knees. The therapeutic dose was calculated for those areas based off his hair color and length, weight, and type of condition being treated. Since Jack had dark hair, he was lightly spritzed with tap water to keep his hair damp to avoid fringing. The treatment time for one session was approximately 20 minutes and Jack’s owners never left his side. The hand piece used was the roll ball design that offered a gentle and soothing message to the area being treated with the laser light. Jack stayed in good spirits soaking up all the attention and treats he could receive.

“Within 24 hours of his first treatment Jack was moving like a much younger dog, eventually running around the back yard, stealing food, and generally causing trouble like he used to.”

Jack's laser - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WI

Since Jack’s owners saw a significant change in Jack’s mobility and a beaming light back in his eyes, they decided to buy a cold laser therapy package of six sessions. Over the next month Jack came in a few times a week for laser therapy treatments, allowing temporary relief of pain and inflammation and giving him more time to spend with friends and family. Jack’s owners continued treatments over the next few months and got down to weekly and biweekly visits. This was possible because Jack’s owners were vigilant and  able to notice trends in his mobility and behaviors that indicated it was time for another treatment.

Most have heard the old saying “Hard to keep an old dog down,” and that fit Jack perfectly. During his laser appointments Jack usually liked to stand or walk around the room but at times he would take advantage of the soft blanket or rug all the while eating treats. Surprising, a lab that likes to eat! Anyone having owned or worked with Labradors know they typically have insatiable appetites. His desire to keep moving could have been due to any one of his medical conditions, such as hip dysplasia, arthritis or even the cognitive dysfunction. Or it could have been just his zany Labrador nature! Cold Laser Therapy gave Jack the ability to sit, lay, and move around with more ease allowing his essential nature to shine bright one day at a time from just a simple ray of light.

As Jack’s dad said, “If you are skeptical about laser therapy and your dog is suffering, take my advice: try laser therapy…you just might be as amazed as we are.”

In Loving Memory of Jack
October 30, 2003 to April 30, 2018

Jacks blog

written by Amanda Haebig

Amanda - Oakview Vet Plover Stevens Point WIAmanda was born in Indiana but has lived in Stevens Point most of her life. She joined the Oakview team in March of 2016 and has quickly become part of the family.
She enjoys Motorcycle riding and Horseback riding when not working.
She shares her life with her significant other, Kevin and their Siberian Huskies Storm and Hale.

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