Hello Farmington! I want to welcome you to the inaugural column of Pets and their People. I would also like to introduce myself to you.

As a veterinarian in the Farmington community for the last 28 plus years, I have always had a strong interest and passion regarding the education of people about their pets. Some of you may be familiar with my column in the weekly Tri City Tribune for the last three years.

Thanks to an editorial decision at The Daily Times, they have agreed to allow me to continue a weekly informative and interactive column to my readers.

My goal is to teach, you, the pet owner, about preventative health care and new technologies available to your four-legged family members to accentuate their health and longevity, and, in doing so, perhaps save your family money during this difficult economic time. As the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure." The objective of the column is to provide timely and relevant topics with The Daily Times allowing you to email me with your questions.

Now, here is some information about me. I was born in western Kansas in 1958 and graduated from Kansas State School of Veterinary Medicine in May of 1985. When in veterinary school, I made myself a promise to not date another veterinary student. That was a promise I "fortunately" did not keep, as I met my amazing wife and partner, Margie Alvarez, during the midst of my education.

I purchased Valley Veterinary Clinic from Dr. Debbie Cosgrove on Oct. 1, 1985, and practiced in that leasehold facility until 1989, when we built our current location on East Main Street. Jumping into practice ownership right out of school was both intimidating and exhilarating. As Margie was a year behind me in vet school, we got married the day after her graduation in May 1986 and were back in Farmington working just days later!

We based our practice of veterinary medicine on the premise of client education and preventative health care. That philosophical premise hasn't changed over the last 28 years. What has changed is the emergence and significance of the human-animal bond. In many ways, we have humanized our relationships with our pets. They are now family members, best friends and confidants! I recall Tippy, my grandparent's dog on their farm in the panhandle of Oklahoma. He lived outside, ate whatever he could find and was more of a fixture than a relational entity. For most family pets, those days are long gone!

What has also changed is the quality and scope of veterinary medicine and the technology now available to the veterinarian. Technologies such as digital radiographs, ultrasound, laser therapy, acupuncture and stem cell therapy to name a few, are routinely practiced today. So it is relevant to educate and inform about the "new stuff," yet imperative to stress the importance of the "old stuff" — that being proper diet, shelter, vaccinations, sterilization, obedience training and the like. All of that is to ensure your pet has a long and lasting fit in your family.

So welcome Farmington, to my Pets and their People column. And, as I always say, your family veterinarian is the best source of information related to your own pet!

Dr. Woodson has practiced veterinary medicine in the Farmington area for more than 28 years and has a passion for educating pet owners. If you have a question you would like him to address, email dwoodson@valleyvetpet.com. Please understand Dr. Woodson will choose the questions that are most relevant to our readers.