Name: William French
Marital status: Married to Rebecca Dietz, DVM
Children: Zane, 1-year-old
Career: Veterinarian at the Littleton Equine Medical Center
Hometown: Fort Collins
Where do you call home today? Sedalia
Introduction: Doctor William French is a veterinarian at the Littleton Equine Medical Center and the President of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. A fifth-generation Coloradan, Fort Collins native and graduate of Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, French personifies old-school Colorado. In fact, he essentially eats, breathes and talks horses. Not only is he married to a fellow equine veterinarian, his mother tells the story of him not wanting to care for horses as a young child, but to be a horse. However, perhaps his most Colorado trait is that whether it’s with his clients (owners), patients (horses) or fellow veterinarians, the relationships he develops are the most valuable assets he owns.
What surprises people about you?
My interest in and ability to play musical instruments. I play the piano and cello.
How do people describe you?
Caring, thoughtful, dedicated and hard working.
Who do you most admire?
Dr. Terry Swanson is one of the founders of Littleton Equine. He is the consummate professional with tremendous ability. He cares about his patients and clients, but also has a wider view of service to the profession.
Favorite Denver metro restaurant?
I love a good steak at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse.
What was the last great book you read?
“Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth. She writes about grit as a defining characteristic for success. It’s a combination of passion and perseverance.
What is your biggest fashion faux pas?
I often walk into a place outside of work with a speck of blood on my face or manure on my shoes.
What is one thing that you absolutely can’t live without?
My wife. She is one of the steadiest people that I have ever been around.
What was your last major purchase?
Ownership shares in Littleton Equine Medical Center.
What gadget can you not live without?
I love the ultrasound I have on my vet truck. It’s fascinating to me what information we can get with just the ultrasound probe.
What are your hobbies?
I love to ride my own horses, particularly in the mountains on pack trips. I also enjoy playing the piano and cello.
What is your most memorable Colorado experience?
One of the most formative Colorado experiences was visiting a friend’s ranch in Walden for branding. It set the foundation for me as to the beauty and wildness of Colorado as well as the toughness of Coloradans. It’s in North Park, and it’s pretty stark up there.
What one word describes Coloradans to you?
What is your favorite spot in Colorado to visit?
I love taking a pack trip into the Rawah Wilderness area.
Are you involved with any charities?
I’m the president of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association and we have a foundation that does a lot of charitable work.
What took you down this career path?
Surprisingly, there are no vets in my family. But I knew growing up that I wanted to work with horses. I liked being outside and science, so it seemed like a natural fit.
Have you always focused your veterinarian practice on horses?
Yes. After vet school, I did a one year internship at Littleton Equine, and I stayed.
What drew you to horses?
When I visited my aunt’s farm when I was really young, according to my mom, I told her that I didn’t want to touch a horse or ride a horse, but that I wanted to be a horse.
What is unique about the Littleton Equine Medical Center?
Our collegiality and collaboration are really great. The way that all of the vets and staff work together creates a really high standard.
Has the practice changed with the urbanization of Littleton?
The practice has changed quite a bit. The practice used to be Littleton Large Animal Clinic, so we saw cows and other farm animals in addition to horses. We also used to work with horse race tracks, but now we work a lot of sport horses which are competition horses that aren’t race horses. Those include hunting horses, dressage, barrel racing. It’s now one the biggest parts of our practice.
How has technology played a role in your practice?
It has allowed us to do far more on the farm or on location. We can be so much more mobile and provide sophisticated care in the field because of the advances in technology.
What is your most memorable experience treating an animal?
The long-term relationships you can build with a client and a patient over time are the most memorable to me. For example, a horse in Watkins was having a significant issue. The patient was pretty suspicious of people, but after the number of re-checks, I really developed a strong relationship with the horse and the client.
What is the biggest challenge for an equine veterinary clinic?
Not unlike any business, it can be difficult to hire people that can stay long term in an area that has such a high cost of living. This applies to vets and staff. Additionally, the increasing urbanization presents its own set of challenges to keeping people.
What is the biggest difference between being an equine veterinarian and being a general vet?
The size of the animal, of course. But honestly, cats scare me more than horses. Our clients are very educated and invested in their horses, and we focus on athletes. So, the owners are very different.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Ideally, I’d still be here contributing to the profession.
What advice would you give aspiring veterinary students?
This is a fantastic profession, but be aware of all it entails. For example, it demands a lot of hours and you come out of school with significant debt.
If you hadn’t been a veterinarian, what would you have been?
I think I would have liked to do agricultural-related law or policy.
What is the best thing about practicing with your wife?
It’s really cool to work in the same environment. We understand each other’s victories and frustrations. That understanding of what this profession entails is very helpful.
Scott S. Evans is graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia School of Law and is a father of two, a business litigation attorney, writer and high school lacrosse coach living in Centennial. Scott has freelanced for various newspapers, magazines, journals and academic publications including The Wall Street Journal and The Military Law Review.
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