Dr. Nancy Altena:
I am Nancy Altena, the veterinarian and owner of Companions Animal Hospital. My very first memory is from I was 3 years old and going to get our first kitten. Hurricane spent many hours being carted around by me, sleeping with me and listening to my thoughts & dreams. He lived to the ripe old age of 18. My memories of all of our family pets stand out for me because I already cared so deeply and compassionately about animals. After high school in my home town of Jamestown, North Dakota, I spent a summer volunteering at our local veterinary clinic with Dr. Gary. That summer is when I knew for sure I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved how my mentor was able to do so many things to help patients big and small and how even in a small town he practiced top notch care for pets and for their owners. I wanted to be an advocate for pets, to help them heal quickly, to take away their pain, to keep them from getting sick in the first place and to make it easy for pet owners to do those same things.
So to start my career it was off to Concordia College for a 4 year Bachelor of Arts degree. Graduating with honors I was able to get my first choice of veterinary schools, Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. Although veterinary school was tough and a lot of long hours it was a great experience and I loved being surrounded by people who not only loved helping pets but also had a passion for learning and educating others.
After graduating from veterinary school in May of 1992 I spent a year at a 24 hour veterinary hospital in Michigan. Working at this clinic I learned how important it is having a team member available overnight to care for sick pets. It was a big and busy hospital and I learned a lot. From there I moved with my soon to be husband to Canyon, Texas so that he could pursue his career. I worked at a terrific 3 doctor practice in Amarillo, Texas until December of 1997 when I purchased my own clinic in Saint Cloud, Minnesota.
I have since realized my true dream of helping animals and their owners, turning Clearwater Road Pet Hospital into Companions Animal hospital. I have been able to inspire and lead our team through great changes in creating a practice that truly cares for all pets as if they are our own. We remodeled the existing building to be able to provide better care, increased our team to include overnight care for our patients during the week, and became AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited. With a great team behind me I have been able to focus on areas of interest including pain management, internal medicine and dentistry as well as learning more about the exotic pets we love to treat. I continue to enjoy working with pets and their owners; teaching them about making healthy choices for their pets so they can live long, healthy and pain-free lives.
Just as I share my “veterinary home” with a great team, I am surrounded by a great “team” at home too. My husband Eric and I met while in school at Colorado State University. He is an Area Fisheries Manager with the MN DNR. We both had pets when we met; I had Kari and Kaesha, domestic short hair cats and he had Bo, a German Shepherd. After a little getting used to each other they proceeded to get along great and truly helped raise our terrific son, Braden who was born while we were in Texas. Along the way we added another cat, Sam, a stray that was brought in by one of my clients. We also added Andi, our beautiful sweet Laborador Retriever mix who was with us for 16 years. Sadly all of these pets have gone on to the Rainbow Bridge and we miss them dearly. Before she left us, Andi “trained” in our new girl, Michaela Rose (Mickey) a true Heinz 57 mix (ask me about her DNA breed testing the next time you are in!). Everybody who meets her says she is “the best dog ever”. She has been to most schools in the area, helps out with puppy classes, is a great demonstration dog, has gone to talks and lectures, you name it! We also had Hockey and Puck, guinea pigs, for over 6 years. More recently we have added Tres and Quatro our newest kitties. Tres lives to get into the butter dish any chance he can get and Quatro’s goal appears to be stealing dish towels and hiding them around the house. Our latest addition is Esox; once again a stray brought in by our long time Surgical Recovery Volunteer, Dave. Esox had been hanging around Dave’s neighborhood for months with no one claiming him and with winter coming on Dave was worried he wouldn’t make it through a MN winter. He brought him in and we tested him for diseases, neutered him, updated his vaccines and started his Heartworm prevention, but we weren’t able to find a home for this sweet, handsome guy. Even though we had recently lost Andi, and I didn’t think I was quite ready for another dog, we decided to give him a forever home with us and I am so glad we did! He is such a character and lives for playing fetch, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if it was up to him. You can see his pictures in our lobby.
In our spare time, Eric, Braden and I love playing hockey and spend a lot of time in the rinks across Minnesota; we also love to fish, especially on the Mississippi River. I enjoy reading mysteries and science fiction/fantasy, cooking, playing hockey (yes, even at my age, I still love to play!), and have recently started Cross Fit which I am having fun with – and it has helped my hockey skills which is great!