After practising in Ponoka for 39 years, an exceptional Central Veterinary Clinic veterinarian is retiring.
Bill Frischke moved to Ponoka from Saskatchewan in June of 1976 and joined a veterinary practice with several other partners. “We knew nothing about the town except it had a big animal hospital,” he recalled.
“I really like the area and the countryside,” he added.
Frischke is a rarity in the world of rural, agricultural veterinary sciences as he worked a mixed practice, dealing with livestock and family pets. He says most vets choose either one path or the other. “I enjoyed it all,” he stressed.
Living in central Alberta, where many of the farms are close together, allowed him to hold a mixed practice with ease.
Frischke grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan and that is where he first noticed his love of animals. However, he had doubts in his ability to become a veterinarian and moved into the field of human x-rays.
But he could not stay away from his passion and re-attended school in Saskatchewan to become a vet.
Frischke says what kept him going all these years is seeing the faces of both the owner and their animal when a treatment works. “After being here a lot of years, you get to know the people, they almost become personal friends. It makes you want to try that much harder,” he explained.
Working through the issues animals face to provide the best level of care he could was also a driving factor for Frischke. “You’re dealing with some real wrecks . . . you’re always dealing with a problem thing,” he said of his hard work.
“And sometimes you can’t do something, and that’s sad,” he added. “You get the good and the bad.”
Frischke has been considering retiring for the last 10 years and now that he sees the practice will remain in good hands with the partners there, he could take that thinking to the next level. “I was slowly selling myself out over the last 10 years,” he said.
“As you get older you’re not capable of some things,” he added, referring to the physically demanding job.
Frischke built the Central Veterinary Clinic in 1988, where he worked alone for three years, after leaving the first practice he joined in town.
Over the years, he figured he would pick up a few partners and as he leaves his practice, there are five to see him off, which surprised him. “We’ve outgrown the place,” he said.
Even with the emotional aspect of the job, Frischke says all his years as a vet were quite interesting. One summer he worked with the veterinarian of the Calgary Zoo and he recalls the time a large primate escaped.
In Ponoka, Frischke continued to work with wild animals such as coyotes, deer and owls. “We even had a pelican,” he said.
Snake owners have brought their pets into the clinic for treatment and Frischke remembers the time he got a call from an individual looking to see if there was such a thing as a snake call that would draw out the missing reptile.
Another of the more interesting calls was a man looking to rent cats from the clinic to deal with his mouse issue.
Now that he has retired, Frischke has no concrete plans he is looking to follow. “I have a lot of hobbies, summertime will not be a problem,” he said.