Introducing Our Newest Veterinarian, Dr. Suma Raju

Dr. Suma graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in 2009.  She has many years of experience as in general practice and has provided relief veterinary services in shelters as well.  She has been a friend of Family Pet for years and we’re happy she has joined our team as a relief veterinarian.

Learn more about Dr. Suma with our Q & A below!

What made you want to become a vet?

I was a software consultant for several years during which time I often dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, but 6-7 years of additional schooling and training seemed like too enormous a challenge.  Then in the wake of an unexpected personal and family tragedy, I saw every day how my pets kept me going and helped me to heal, and I couldn’t put it off any longer.  I love animals and medicine, but I am a veterinarian because I know that often the best way to help humans is to take excellent care of their best friends.

How did you find yourself at Family Pet?

I’ve had friends and acquaintances at Family Pet ever since I returned to Chicago following my internship in 2010, and I’ve always thought very highly of the practice.  I am so pleased and excited to be finally joining the team!

Did you study anything besides veterinary medicine in school?

My first time through undergrad I got majors in art history and French with minors in computer science and math.  Let’s just say I was confused about what I wanted to do with my life.

What are the most common questions you answer as a practicing veterinarian?

The questions I get are as varied as my clients and patients!  One of the best things about this job is the need to constantly update my knowledge and keep learning, so I love getting questions I’ve never gotten before.

What do you see as the greatest danger toward household pets?

Any issue that breaks down the human-animal bond between an owner and their pet is a danger.  These are often behavioral challenges, or even medical problems that are misinterpreted as behavioral.  No matter how much we love our pets, sometimes their responses to fear and stress and other natural urges drive a wedge into that loving relationship.  If not addressed with education, patience, and training, these problems can lead to relinquishment of pets which can often be a death sentence.

What has been your most rewarding moment as a veterinarian?

My most rewarding moments have all been, in some way, times of connecting with my clients in a deeply meaningful way.  Sometimes it’s being able to reduce someone’s anxiety over their pet’s condition and helping them feel more in control of it.  Sometimes it’s knowing I’ve earned their trust, or just being a good listener.  And sometimes it’s sharing their grief.  Being there through all the joys and challenges of pet ownership is very gratifying.

What animal scares you more than any other?

I have a knee-jerk fear response to wild snakes (not pet snakes) and large spiders. 

If you weren’t a vet, what would you do?

I don’t know.  I believe this is the career I was always meant for, and I’m so thankful I figured that out!

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Over time, I’ve found I value my milestone accomplishments less and feel more gratitude for the fact that life offers incremental ways to grow and contribute every day. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to cook and I’m a huge fan of audiobooks.  Documentaries and museums appeal to the general nerdiness which is probably one of my defining traits.  I love travelling and still have a lot of places I’d love to visit. 

What is your favorite vacation spot?

My favorite place to visit is Florence, Italy.  Not being a large city, it’s very walkable and quite safe.  Especially for someone who enjoys political and cultural history, there’s no end of things to see and do, even on return trips.

What is your favorite comfort food?

My comfort food is what is known as “tiffin” in South Indian cooking.  The term is used for a group of dishes that are typically eaten for breakfast in South India, such as idli, dosa, poori, chapati, etc. and their accompanying chutneys and curries.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Unkindness

Who are your heroes?

My brother is my hero.  He’s an incredibly hard worker, as well as an excellent husband and father.  We have very different personalities but when I need advice on virtually anything, he’s the one I seek out.

Name 5 things that people might be surprised to know about you:

  1. I am a reformed plant murderer who has actually gotten quite good at growing orchids.
  2. I love fostering and so far I have fostered 1 dog, 28 cats, 3 birds, and 1 rabbit.
  3. I like mechanical things and got my private pilot license in the late 90s just to learn about small planes.  I’ve never used it to fly myself anywhere.
  4. The animated movie “Chicken Run” caused me to go vegan for three years. 
  5. I think bats are adorable and very fascinating.