How did you arrive in veterinary medicine as a profession?


I actually knew from the point that I was a small child that I had a connection with animals and I wanted to use that connection in my life and in my career, so I gravitated toward veterinary medicine right away. Additionally, I came from a family that put a lot of importance on education, so combining my interest in working with animals along with the pursuit of a medical degree was a great choice!



Was there a special pet or event when you were little that really was the most notable?


As a young child, I always asked my parents to take in any animal that I found! There is however a very notable time when I was 3 or 4 years old, while we were vacationing at Bush Gardens in Tampa, FL. There was an educational animal show featuring several reptiles and other types of animals. At one point, the presenter up on stage brought out a very large boa or python snake (I was so little I don’t remember which type of snake it was, … only that it was huge!). But, before the presenter could even finish asking the question, “who wants to come up and hold this snake?” – I had already made a mad dash onto the stage as most people cringed and gasped. My parents proudly took pictures of me with this huge snake wrapped around my neck. The snake was very long and I was very little, so it was an impressive sight with the snake draping all over the stage. That was an early affirmation for my family to truly understand my love for animals.



Where did you go to vet school?


The University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin; graduated 1993. I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so this school was a great choice, however, it was not opened until the mid-1980s, so as a younger child, I expected that I would attend school in Minnesota or perhaps another out-of-state option. The first graduating class of veterinarians at the University of Wisconsin was in 1987, which means my class was the 7th class to be educated there. Fortunately, the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Medical School is a fantastic institution and still carries a reputation for being one of the top-rated vet schools.



So at what point did you start to gravitate towards integrative medicine?


Looking back, I can say I became progressively interested in a broader approach to treat my patients, with a desire to focus on supporting the body to truly heal rather than just addressing symptoms as a separate issue. I began practicing “holistic” veterinary medicine in 2008, and then created and launched my own new practice, Integrative Veterinary Care, at the beginning of 2016.


My career started in general private practice, and then a few years later I moved to Virginia to complete an internship in Wildlife Rehabilitation medicine. I then relocated to San Diego, California in 1997, and spent several years in small animal & exotics practice. I made a career shift into shelter medicine and served as the medical director of San Diego Humane Society & SPCA from 2002-2007. I have remained active in shelter work on a part-time basis for more than 15 years.


In 2005, I was officially inspired to work within a holistic focus, after seeing exceptional results for my own aged dog, Asti. My friend, colleague, and mentor – Dr. Keith Weingardt – treated my dog with acupuncture and herbal medicine, and we worked together to make a very positive diet and nutrition changes. The results were incredible.


I left my shelter position to pursue yet another career shift – starting with certification in acupuncture at the Chi Institute in 2008, and extending into advanced acupuncture and herbal medicine training, nutritional/food therapy training, VOM/chiropractic, biotherapeutics/homeopathy, etc.



Assisi Duke 1.JPGI was wondering how you use your pain management knowledge in your practice.


Unfortunately, pain management was very underserved in veterinary medicine until recent years, and it is a shame to think of how much our patients endured during our general lack of knowledge in this regard. Fortunately, there is enough information out now (with studies on both the human side and the animal side) to demonstrate that managing pain is a vital piece in supporting healing, as well as the obvious impact on comfort and quality of life. Studies show that when the body is stressed with pain, cortisol levels are elevated, which impedes healing. Since I am passionate about supporting the body to heal and optimizing whole body wellness, I am very conscious about pain management for my patients. One of the wonderful things about having a holistic and integrative focus within veterinary medicine is that we have more options to utilize in addressing pain. A multi-model approach is always best, and many integrative modalities proactively support healing in addition to decreasing pain and inflammation.



Let’s talk about the Loop right now as that’s exactly where this technology fits in. How did you hear about the Assisi Loop?


The first person who told me about the Assisi Loop is another holistic veterinary practitioner, Dr. Ashley Geoghegan, in southern Louisiana. Dr. G highly recommended the loops and sent some information and short videos. She also directed me to her practice FB page to view the testimonials from her clients about the efficacy and satisfaction ratings regarding the Assisi loops.


A few months later, I saw an advertisement in the “Today’s Veterinary Practice” journal and was impressed with the information given there as well. I then contacted a friend and a colleague who is pain management certified, Dr. Gabriella Varcoe, to ask her opinion on the loops. Dr. Varcoe also recommends Assisi loops and explained the assets of using them. After getting repeatedly positive input, … a few weeks later I found the Assisi Animal Health booth at the Western Veterinary Convention in Las Vegas and placed an order for my first batch of Loops!



How have you integrated the Loop into your practice? Has it been pretty easy?


Yes, it has been very easy. We offer laser at my practice as well as ozone therapy and other modalities, but the loops offer a distinct advantage in overall cost and convenience as well as the ability to give more frequent treatments (at home). I educate my clients on the various options and let them choose what works best for them to best support the healing and pain management for their pets. I definitely recommend the Assisi Loop for patients with any injuries, post-operative recovery, neurologic issues, and pain-related cases. The educational and instructional YouTube videos are easily accessible to share with clients and that is a huge hit. People really appreciate the opportunity to learn that way, so we send the video links to each client that we have discussed loops with and/or have recommended a loop for their pet. Occasionally, I may play the Assisi loop videos in the exam room (sometimes while the pet is getting an acupuncture treatment).


Oftentimes, I may also bring in a Loop for a demonstration on how to use it. One particular situation that I can share is regarding a 17-year-old kitty patient named Josephine with significant arthritis and other geriatric health issues. She’s also a kitty that does not like to be touched or handled at all, and we are not typically able to safely do much for either examination or treatment for her. Josephine was getting laser treatments at our practice, but her owner mentioned they were traveling for the summer and taking the kitty with them, and they were disappointed that she would not be able to continue her laser treatments.


At this point, I introduced the Assisi Loop and I explained how it worked, addressing pain and inflammation, but also supporting healing, and that it is very portable and easy to do frequently at home. I brought the loop in the exam room for a demonstration and placed it on the hindquarters of the kitty who was agitated with ears pinned back and hunkered into the bottom half of her detached carrier crate. After just a minute or two into the loop treatment time, you could see Josephine’s body begin to relax. Her ears relaxed, her posture changed, and then her eyes started blinking as she began to look rested. Her owner looked at me and said “Wow! That is the most relaxed I’ve ever seen her here! I think she likes that treatment.” And I said, “Yep! I think clearly she does.” Next, the client said, “I would like to take one of those Loops today.” She was able to take it on her trip, and what a fantastic match it was for this kitty. The Assisi Loop is really a great match and option for any animal because of the convenience and ease of accomplishing frequent treatments, which ultimately means better results and potential for faster healing.


Have you encountered any resistance from pet owners?


Very little. Probably because I have an integrative/holistic specialty practice, so my clients are eager to learn about proactive options that may offer alternatives to medications with side effects, etc. Additionally, I think that because lasers are so common now in general veterinary practices, a lot of pet parents are becoming much more open to this type of treatment. I think the overall acceptance and awareness is really growing quickly, which is great. Occasionally people want to know how it is working. I explain that they are not going to see anything come out of the Loop as the tPemf is not visible. I have them watch the video for more detail, so they can understand more fully. I think most people think it’s pretty cool, and with so much information coming out about similar modalities, people are less skeptical about it. It helps that I have personal experience with the loops too because I can speak with confidence about how it works and the good results that I am seeing.



Are there any other cases that really stand out to you that you just wanted to bring up?


I have a boxer patient named Maggie, who presented with significant lameness and an ACL injury. We are doing acupuncture and other modalities, and have added in the Assisi Loop, too. Her owner, Maureen, was very impressed and provided continued feedback after starting the loop treatments. Progressively each time, she reported “Wow! The Assisi loop really seems to be helping.” Maureen also told me that she tried it on her herself to treat an arthritic/neuropathy issue in her feet, and she felt better after just one treatment. She was very impressed! And so was I!


Additionally, two of my staff members use the Assisi loop routinely on their own pets and have repeatedly seen good results. Now my staff helps to educate our clients about the Loops because they’ve seen them work with their own pets, so they eagerly promote them!


Great! Thank you so much.


The Assisi Loop is available through a prescription from your veterinary professional. To learn more about how to get the Loop, visit the Products page.