The first time I met Mark Hanks, in 2004, I was bringing my new puppy Remmey to the  Veazie Veterinary Clinic, for a check-up. The thing that struck me, right out of the gate, was that before he even said two words to me, he was down on the floor, having a conversation with my dog. And I bet, if you asked anyone who's had the pleasure of working with him over the years, the stories would all be the same.

Dr. Hanks would go on to save my pup's life when she got ahold of an extension cord and electrocute herself. Not only did he do his best to save her, but he also did his best to keep me calm. He went so far as to take my dog home with him, to keep an eye on her, so she wouldn't be alone at the vet clinic overnight.

He has also taken care of subsequent dogs and cats for my family. He just has that special way with animals.

Not too long after saving Remmey's life, in 2005, he sent me an email letting me know he was going to go out on a limb, follow his dream, and open up his own Veterinary Office in Orrington, and thus Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinic in Orrington came to be.

JOLES PHOTOGRAPHY

For folks who have pets in the Eastern Maine area, we would have followed Dr. Hanks anywhere. His bond with animals was unmistakable. His care, top-notch. But to care so deeply, as for anything in life, can consume you, and start to leak into all parts of your life.

According to a letter Dr. Hanks sent out to his patients and friends, that's exactly what's happened. So he's stepping away from the career he's had such amazing success with all these years, and hoping to make the most of the rest of his life.

"The problem with loving your job is that you do it too much. My wife, family, and friends have all played second fiddle to my career. My wife and friends will give me a second chance, but I can’t get back that time where my kids were growing up. That is the only part I regret. I hope to get a second chance with grandchildren (no pressure kids if you are reading this). I also have nieces and nephews that I can be part of the community of loved ones that help them grow into happy adults."

With about 4,000 active clients, Hanks now has 20 employees, 4 vets on staff, so he's leaving it in good hands.

"I have never worked with anyone who gets the human and animal part better than Dr Barry. He will be in charge of all the clinical veterinary leadership of the practice. Dr Leighton is the most emotionally intelligent veterinarian I have ever worked with, and she will be his rock, emotional wisdom and confidante. Dr. Haller literally grew up in the practice and will be bringing us the most up-to-date medicine with the Kindred flair. She also empathizes with worry better than anyone…her dog is her life, and she gets that your pet is yours. Dr. Haller worked in Emergency medicine before moving back here, so she has already shown us a few approaches that have made the practice better. She taught me that an old dog can learn new tricks."

Hanks says he has been doing the gig for such a long time, that he's now dreaming about the animals...

"Kindred Spirits to me is an idea. Not just taking care of animals, but taking care of people who love their animals. When they are sick, we are scared. When we are scared, our emotions are all over the place. The work is intense, emotional, and you don’t always win. If you value animal life (and I think we all do), then the loss is hard over time. I feel as much happiness now as I did when I started 3 decades ago when I see a puppy or kitten, and just as much sorrow when I put an animal to sleep."

Hanks says he will retire one year from now, in July of 2022.

"I’m grateful that so many people have trusted me with their fur babies. Thank you all for trusting me with your life stories and problems as well. still sit on the floor most of the time, although I can’t get up gracefully. Thank you for not laughing as I grunted when I got up after examining your pet. "

Thank you, Dr. Hanks, for your decades of caring for our furry family members with outstanding compassion and care. Animals in Eastern Maine had a powerful ally in you. We appreciate that you've inspired the next generation of your team to act accordingly.

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