Whether it is a word casually spoken or a bird falling right in your path, Dr Gloria Lee from Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Mandai) believes nothing is coincidental. We are always where we are meant to be.
“I believe in fate, totally. I take what this life has given me to do. There is no such thing as coincidence in my book.”
have you always wanted to be a vet?
I grew up in Kuching, Sarawak, surrounded by animals. My parents always had mongrels and would feed cats who happened to adopt us. They also raised ducks and quails. When I was in primary school, a classmate said I should be a vet since I had so many pets. The seed was sown.
HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR LOVE FOR BIRDS?
Like many young people, I was not prepared to practise my trade when I graduated so I took on a year of Zoology at another university. During that time, I chanced upon a baby dove fallen from its nest and brought it to a wildlife rehabilitation centre, Fauna Rehabilitation Centre, in the outskirts of Perth. It was a small privately-funded place, run by dedicated volunteers.
That was one of the turning points in my life.
I spent several years learning and helping the centre on a pro bono basis. I am grateful my parents were patient and allowed me the time to find myself.
what is the best part about being a vet?
I find it rewarding to help community animals and the people who are protecting them. It is also heartwarming to help the elderly and the poor give their sick companions a better quality of life.
how do you cope with the emotions & frustrations of work?
I don’t shut down and compartmentalise well and often bring my worries home. Knowing I have eased the suffering of an animal and meeting wonderful clients make things easier. Having an understanding spouse/partner is very important.
Several years ago, when my schedule became hectic, my husband Victor made a tough decision to semi-retire so that we can have some work-life balance. He comes to the clinic whenever I am at work and gives me sound advice whether I want to hear it or not. I respect him for that.
Gardening is a relaxing hobby I share with Victor who trained as a Horticulturist. I am the Hon Treasurer of the Singapore Gardening Society and he is the Hon Secretary. When all else fails, a good Scotch whisky always soothes my soul and spirit! Sorry to the Irish and Japanese but I do enjoy Guinness and sashimi too!
tell us more about your pets
I have adopted dozens of animals in my life. We currently have 3 Scottish Terriers named Chivas, Regal, Macallan and 6 adopted stray cats. We gave all of them “alcoholic names”!
what advice would you give aspiring vets?
It is not enough to have a love for animals.
A love for animals is not going to see you through 12-hour work days and clients who expect you to save their already dying pets. Many young vets are casualties of burn-out. They stop working in clinics because they have become disillusioned.