Story by Megan Myers
Veterinary medicine runs in the Tabone family.
Growing up in Colleyville, Amanda Tabone spent much of her free time at the veterinary hospital where both her father, veterinarian George Tabone ’93, and mother, veterinary nurse Katy Tabone, were employed.
“I spent a good portion of my summers at the hospital, even starting in late elementary school and early middle school, watching my dad and going into rooms with clients,” Amanda said. “Once I got older, I got to start watching surgeries, which was really neat.”
This exposure to veterinary medicine at a young age, along with a household full of pets, was instrumental in Amanda’s decision to become a veterinarian herself.
“I’ll never forget the day she called us at the hospital and said, ‘That’s it. I’ve made up my mind, I want to be a veterinarian,’” George said. “I always felt that she could do whatever she wanted to do if she put her mind to it, but her passion and her natural affinity toward animals was obvious. I told her mother, ‘She’s going to be good.’ Honestly, she’ll be better than I am.”
When Amanda decided to study veterinary medicine at Texas A&M, where her father earned his DVM and her mother worked at the Small Animal Hospital (SAH) for several years, her parents were overjoyed.
“There was never a backup plan for me,” Amanda said. “It was either apply until I get into A&M or keep applying. I was really lucky that it happened on the first try, because there was never a plan of going elsewhere.”
Though her father encouraged her to apply to multiple veterinary schools, he was secretly thrilled that she was determined to study at the CVM, which was also where he had met and married Katy.
“My veterinary school experience 26 years ago was absolutely the most wonderful four years of my life,” George said. “I developed so many special relationships with clinicians, professors, and friends to whom I still talk today. With the great traditions here, I don’t think she’ll ever forget her days at A&M.”
During Amanda’s years as a veterinary student, being able to turn to her father for advice and encouragement helped her stay motivated and focused on her goal of becoming a small animal general practitioner like he is.
“It’s been a really cool experience throughout veterinary school to call him about different topics and have him be able to relate,” Amanda said. “It’s been even more rewarding in my fourth year, when he and I have been able to chat about the patients and cases I got to work on that day, what I saw, or what surgery I helped with.”
During her fourth-year clinical rotations, Amanda discovered her passion for interacting with pets’ owners in addition to the pets. Two cases stand out to her as particularly impactful—a Beagle named Birdie from her cardiology rotation and a Bloodhound named Annie from orthopedics.
“Annie had a complicated fracture we got to repair,” Amanda said. “Annie’s mom was willing to do anything for her; Annie is a huge part of her life. She was a rescue, so it was a really rewarding case. The bond she has with her mom was something really special to witness, and I was lucky be a part of Annie’s team under Dr. (Laura) Peycke.
“One of my favorite parts of fourth year is getting to speak with clients and letting them know I’m taking care of their pets to the best of my ability and treating them with love, like how I would want my own pets treated,” Amanda said. “I think that goes a long way, especially for the people who are stressed during their pet’s visit. That’s why when Annie comes in for her rehabilitation appointments, I try to stop in and say hello to her mom, because I really do appreciate and enjoy that aspect of our profession.”
Amanda plans to take this mindset with her into general practice, where she looks forward to establishing trusting relationships with all of the animals and people who come through her door.
“I think the most exciting thing will be to build relationships with clients that I can maintain, to be able to see the same clients as their pets grow and do what I can to keep their family members around as long as possible,” she said. “I’m really excited about that.
“We all love animals, but for me the driving factor (for becoming a veterinarian) was the connection we have with our pets,” she said. “That’s why I enjoy the client interaction part of it the most, because I want to do whatever I can to make their human-animal bond the best that it can be. That’s what drives me.”
Though Amanda will return to the Dallas area after graduation to be near her family, she plans to find a new clinic to join, rather than working with her parents.
“I’ve gotten to watch my dad all of these years and I’ll continue to lean on him for mentorship, but he thinks I should work at another clinic where I can learn from others, learn how to do things differently, and find my own preferences and techniques, as opposed to just his,” Amanda said.
Thanks to their shared passions for animals and veterinary medicine, the Tabone family has a strong and unique bond that will hold them together, even if they are separated by physical distance.
“My dad and I have always been close because of sports, and this whole aspect of our shared profession has brought in a new dynamic to our relationship,” Amanda said. “My mom supported him through veterinary school and she’s been a huge rock for me during veterinary school, as well. We have a really neat family dynamic.”
Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of CVM Today.
Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; firstname.lastname@example.org; 979-862-4216