Hello and welcome!
I am Dr. Katie.
I grew up in Dubuque and knew that I always wanted to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Fortunately, following a degree in Animal Science, I was accepted into Veterinary School at Iowa State University and I graduated in 2013. Following graduation, I completed a one-year intensive equine internship in California at Pioneer Equine Hospital.
After my internship, I returned back to Iowa and started River Valley Veterinary Services — a mobile equine and small animal practice serving the Dubuque area. Since starting the business, I have transitioned to seeing dogs and cats exclusively. My goal has always been to provide high quality, low stress medicine to all my animal patients.
I am a strong believer in traditional western and preventative medicine. In my first years out of vet school, I saw several cases in which the animal had run out of options for medications and treatment, and the owners had to decide between continuing treatment or humane euthanasia. In some cases, I felt like there had to be something else that could be done to help that animal. Because of this, I decided to pursue further education for holistic and integrative options for animals.
I became certified in Animal Chiropractic through Options for Animals in 2014. After seeing the benefits of chiropractic care, I then decided to attend the Chi Institute in 2017 to become certified in Animal Acupuncture. I have also taken advanced courses in Palliative and Hospice Care, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Food Therapy, and Companion Animal Rehabilitation.
I married my high school sweetheart in 2014. After having many many pets, we were blessed with our first (human) child, Bennett, in November 2018. For anyone that has had children, you know that starting a family changes EVERYTHING. Covid happened, and then we added chickens, ducks, and more donkeys to the Merkes Ranch. In January 2021, another human child was added, Gwendolyn. Since I became a mom, my priorities have shifted greatly from growing a thriving business to providing for my family and spending time with my family. Aiming to improve my work-life balance, GoodLife Integrative Veterinary Care was born.
Titan (and why I do what I do)
One of the reasons I chose to continue to pursue and offer more holistic remedies is because of my own experience with my dog, Titan. Titan was (and still is) my heart dog.
I adopted Titan when I was in veterinary school and he had retired from greyhound racing. Following graduation, he trekked with me cross country and lived the life of a California dog for a year. He was there when I moved back to Iowa, started my business, got married, got pregnant, and had Bennett. To say he was with me through some of my worst days of my life and some of the best days of my life is an understatement.
For some reason, I always knew that he was going to get bone cancer. I had several dreams about it and unfortunately, greyhounds are predisposed to osteosarcoma. In March of 2018, I noticed Titan limping, took some radiographs and found a lesion consistent with this nasty cancer. Treatment choices included amputation, chemotherapy, or pain management. Trusting that 10-year-old Titan didn’t want to be a three-legged dog, I decided to pursue the pain management and holistic approach. Regardless of treatment, osteosarcoma carries an average survival time of six months after diagnosis, so prognosis regardless of treatment is pretty grim.
In true Titan fashion, I diagnosed him shortly after I learned I was pregnant. He knew that I would need something happy and something to look forward to as I coped with knowing I would be having to say goodbye to my steadfast friend sooner rather than later.
I believe that Titan lived longer than expected and more comfortably in those last months because of the pain management and holistic remedies I included in his treatment. He was placed on multiple pain medications, as well as two anti-cancer Chinese herbs. He remained moderately comfortable, and with the help of several Reiki sessions I was confident that he was going to be around to welcome our new (human) child. After Bennett was born, I could tell that Titan’s time was coming close to the end. In December of 2018 I said “see you later” to my best pal — on his own bed in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by so much love — nine months after his diagnosis.
Kat has always had a passion for dogs. She has extensive experience in the animal industry and has been working with dogs for 13+ years. She and her friends started the local rescue “Secondhand Soulmates” in 2021 with the goal of being a health and wellness focused rescue serving the local area. When she’s not working or doing rescue tasks, you can find her hiking with her pack. Her favorite aspect of canine fitness training is building confidence and improving quality of life for dogs in her care.
Kayla graduated from Kirkwood Community College in 2009, and has been a Registered Veterinary Technician ever since. She lives in Bellevue with her husband and 3 boys on their family’s dairy farm. When she’s not working on the farm or at GoodLife, she enjoys cheering for her boys on the sidelines, baking, time with friends, and walks outdoors. Her favorite part of the job is seeing her patients throughout their life stages. They are cute as puppies and even cuter when they’re old and grey. “Being a part of GoodLife and all it stands for is what I’ve dreamed of as a little girl!”