When Dr. Barb Leppke decided to move her veterinary practice to a new, remodeled space, she was focused on the nitty-gritty details of a busy clinic. “We were looking for elbow room,” she remembers. “And good heating and cooling.”
But Leppke and her remodeling team went way beyond the basics at Shady Oak Veterinary Clinic’s new location on Minnetonka Boulevard. “When it was done,” says Leppke, “I looked at the photos and said, ‘I can’t believe I work here.’”
Leppke has owned the clinic since 1998, and her practice has grown in leaps and bounds over the past 15 years. “We used to work on top of each other,” she says of the old clinic. “We don’t have to do that anymore.”
Among the improvements are extra-large exam rooms and a centralized intensive-care area, where staff can keep a close eye on their neediest patients, says Leppke. And the hallways are extra-wide to keep pets calm—especially dogs, who are usually afraid of tightly enclosed spaces. Even the air conditioning, which most of us take for granted during hot Minnesota summers, is a breath of fresh air. “The dogs aren’t hot when they come in!” says Leppke with a smile. “They’re not panting the whole time, because the rooms are really cool.”
In addition to its more functional features, the new clinic design is just plain gorgeous. The rooms are painted in various rich hues, from plum to olive green, and several walls showcase murals of trees and plants. “The artwork is very calming,” says MaryBeth Timmington, a long-time client of Leppke who recently visited Shady Oak with her 8-year-old spaniel, Reggie. Timmington also notes the fun—and often poignant—quotations that are stenciled on several walls. One favorite is a short verse by Rudyard Kipling: “He will be our friend for always and always and always … ”
“We think of dogs and cats that belong to their families as kids,” explains Leppke. She and her staff take that message to heart and focus on treating every patient as an individual. “Their treatment is according to what they need. They’re all a little different,” she says.
That level of care and attention to detail are apparent as soon as families walk in the door of the clinic. For animals who get anxious or aggressive around other dogs or cats, the lobby offers plenty of breathing room, and families can make their way slowly into the space around the welcoming reception desk. The lobby also boasts a natural stained-concrete floor instead of carpet, which can quickly get messy and worn from so many visiting paws. “It’s perfect for dogs,” says Timmington. “It’s clean and sanitary; it’s just great.”
Clients have also expressed their gratitude for the clinic’s euthanasia area, which is private and peaceful. “We finally have a separate door,” says Leppke, so grieving families can take their time to exit without trekking back through the busy lobby. Timmington adds that it’s not just the physical space that helps families through the pain of losing a beloved friend. “When you have to say goodbye to a pet, Barb is so compassionate,” she says. “[The staff] just make the experience as peaceful as possible.”
Pet owners and their four-legged companions have been exploring and enjoying the beautiful new clinic, but some things never change, Timmington says with a laugh. “My dogs still know exactly where the treat jars are on the counter in every room.” Those comforts, and the knowledge that pets are receiving top-notch care, keep Shady Oak’s clients coming back year after year. Stop by for a visit, and we think you—and Rover—will agree.
Shady Oak Veterinary Clinic, 10015 Minnetonka Blvd.; 952.938.1926.