Animal Planet’s Dr. Hendersons talk about vet reality and new show

Photo provided by Animal Planet
Photo provided by Animal Planet /
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Drs Anthony, Ryan and Ross Henderson as seen on Season 1 of Hanging with the Hendersons. Photo provided by Animal Planet.
Drs Anthony, Ryan and Ross Henderson as seen on Season 1 of Hanging with the Hendersons. Photo provided by Animal Planet. /

Dog O’Day – So you guys operate out of Denver?

Dr. Ross – “Yeah, Lakewood, it’s about twenty minutes west of Denver.”

Dr. Ryan – “It’s really cool, though, we really kind of pride ourselves in not pressuring clients, giving them options, and we’re starting to get a lot of good reviews on Google or Yelp or whatever, and we’re starting to pull a lot of people in from Denver cause they see us and they’re like, ‘Oh, what’s a 20-minute drive out to Lakewood?’ So yeah, we do have Denver clients, but we are in Lakewood.”

When did the clinic open?

Dr. Tony – “I’ll answer that one, because it was 8 a.m. on the morning of the sixth of November, 1996.

That is really specific.

Dr. Tony – “It was a very important day of my life because I was filled with excitement and I didn’t have too many worries, cause I was prepared, cause I was trying to teach my sons that that’s a very important skill to have in life, and the rest is history.”

Dr. Ryan – “In all honesty, I can’t even imagine being my dad during that time, because you had four kids then? And you managed –“

Dr. Tony – “Walked away from a very secure well-paying job with no responsibilities [sons laugh] into the pit of financial peril.”

Dr. Ross – “And he started this business, when we could’ve been, like, out on the streets…”

Dr. Tony – “Well, there are a couple of tents in the basement.”

Dr. Ross – “That was your backup plan?”

What is a misconception that you find the general public has about veterinary medicine?

Dr. Ryan – “I mean, one unfortunate misconception is that – I don’t know, like, we’re trying to make money. But that’s actually the opposite of Fox Hollow’s MO – like, literally, our dad has taught us since we were shadowing him as vet students that we need to give our clients options. Everyone’s in a different financial spot, we’ll work with rescues, we’ll even work with people who don’t have money.

“And it is sad, I might be out and about, and people are like, ‘Oh, veterinarians, they just like to –‘ And I’m like, ‘No! We’re in this to save animals, for the client connection.” It can break my heart when I hear stuff like that, because that’s so far from the truth.”

Dr. Tony – “Well, I’ve been a veterinarian for 41 years, and a business owner for 22. Out of those 22 years, there’s been times living paycheck to paycheck when you have children, and I think if you just steer the course and be true to yourself and be compassionate and careful, the bills will get taken care of.

“After 41 years, you know, I’m getting close to retirement, I think it’s okay for me to go out and buy a new truck. In other words, I think I deserve it. [Laughs] Originally I had a $75 Volkswagen that I drove Ryan and Ross around in –“

Dr. Ross – “Didn’t it only have three wheels?”

Dr. Tony – “When I bought it, it only had three wheels, yes. I appreciate people and their financial situation,  I tell clients in really awkwrd situations, they have financial limits and they have limits to what their dogs are due, so that’s what I often tell young parents. We’re in tune on most of those cases.”

Dr. Ross – “I think one of the big misconceptions that people don’t realize, though, about veterinary medicine is the emotional toll that it takes. It’s an amazing, great job, and it has a lot of purpose, and there’s a lot of passion in it, but at the same time that weight can oftentimes feel overwhelming.

“Actually, when I was in vet school, they’re actually including courses now on the seriousness of, like, how hard the job is, second to dentists and stuff in terms of environmental depression and things like that.

“That’s a hard one to navigate, but the reality is that we take our job very serious, and that costs. A lot. It’s a job that doesn’t turn off on the emotional side, and I think that sometimes people can see us and go, ‘Hey, your job must be awesome, you play with puppies all the time!’ But when you’ve got dogs that you’ve fallen in love with that aren’t doing well….it’s easy to get completely consumed in a lot of ways, especially as a new vet like me. It was very good to have the advice of my dad and my brother to find some balance on that.”