Veterinarian Makes House Calls Throughout Remote Northern Nevada
By Dianna Troyer
Photos By Carollee Egbert
Dr. Hannah Rodriguez’s veterinary clinic is wherever her four-legged patients happen to live: an RV park off the interstate, a remote ranch, or a small town.
From her home in Deeth 20 miles west of Wells, Hannah drives throughout northern Nevada to treat dogs and cats, cattle and horses, and sheep and goats.
“I don’t really have a defined territory,” says Hannah, a 2018 alumna of Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “I knew after graduating I wanted the freedom and flexibility of having a solo mobile practice in northern Nevada.”
She named her business Great Basin Veterinary Services and provides wellness care, vaccinations, wound care, deworming, castrations, dentistry, and pregnancy diagnosis for “all creatures great and small,” a reference on her website to the best-selling book series of the same name.
The books were written by one of Hannah’s favorite veterinarians and authors, James Herriot, the pen name of Dr. Alf Wight, who wrote about his clients and their pets and livestock in the scenic and remote Yorkshire Dales of England.
“After my undergrad, I loved reading his books,” Hannah says. “Sometimes, when I’m driving around on calls, I think about his stories.”
Although Hannah’s career seemed like an obvious choice since childhood in Carson City, she balked at even going to college.
“My dad was a veterinarian, so when I was growing up, I loved tagging along with him when he took care of 4-H animals,” she says. “After high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and thought I’d take time off to explore and see what life would bring. I graduated in May and didn’t pick a college until July.”
Her choice to study animal science at Great Basin College in Elko was fortuitous. During summers, she worked for veterinarian and rancher Dr. Boyd Spratling in Starr Valley, where she met her future husband, John, an employee of Spratling’s.
“I liked the freedom Boyd had working for himself,” says Hannah, who lives a few miles from his clinic. “It’s so beautiful here, too, and John grew up in Deeth, so we knew we’d settle here.”
Boyd is reducing his workload and says, “There’s plenty of work for all of us. I’m 70 and have cut back and just do large animals. Hannah’s at the point of building a practice, like I was 40 years ago. I’m proud to see her developing relationships and loyal clientele. She’s independent, has initiative, is a good clinician, and communicates well.”
Her acceptance of the region’s harsh winters has served her well.
“She’s tough and isn’t intimidated by winter driving or unpleasant situations that come up,” Boyd says. “She’s been able to balance her family life with building her practice too. I’m tickled for all she’s accomplished.”
Hannah says her clients tell her they prefer her mobile clinic because they do not have time to drive to Elko to see a vet.
“Livestock and pets are more comfortable at home on a ranch,” Hannah says. “Many ranch dogs aren’t used to being on a leash or in town and don’t like it.”
Hannah makes two to six calls a day, Mondays through Saturdays.
Sometimes when a challenging case confronts her, she says she thinks of the courage and optimism of Alf Wight in rural England.
“He was never afraid to take anything on,” she says. “He’d see any case. Some vets get in their comfort zone and focus on one or two species. I enjoy seeing all creatures and have had phenomenal experiences with clients like he did.”
Some clients insist on giving her freshly baked cinnamon rolls, cookies, or bread.
“I work for great people who are so appreciative, especially with emergencies,” Hannah says. “I’ve done Cesarean sections and repaired prolapsed uteruses on cows on subzero nights during calving season and stitched up horses’ cut legs at night too.”
Other patients are routine, such as Miss Pepper, a Pembroke Welsh corgi puppy.
“It was a God thing to find a veterinarian who makes house calls so we don’t have to drive two hours to Elko and back,” says Miss Pepper’s owner Nancy O’Bosky.
She and her husband, Steve, own and operate Welcome Station RV Park, eight miles west of Wells.
“One of our guests mentioned Hannah has a mobile practice.”
The O’Boskys have been clients of Hannah’s since last summer.
“When we moved here, we needed a vet for our old guy, Tye,” Nancy says of their Queensland McNab shepherd. “She spent so much time with him and prescribed medicine to keep him comfortable until we finally had to put him to sleep. She always answers texts quickly and is caring and knowledgeable.”
Other clients, Phil and Pat Lambert in Deeth, are impressed with Hannah’s compassion and patience.
“I was taking care of a neighborhood stray cat that had been mauled by a coyote or raccoon,” Pat says. “It didn’t improve and needed to be euthanized. Dr. Hannah didn’t rush me at all about making the final decision.”
The Lamberts’ dogs—Chihuahua-dachshund cross BettyLu, cocker spaniel Jake, and a mixed breed Wolfie—get their wellness checks and vaccinations from Hannah.
“Our dogs like her, and they’re a good judge of character,” Pat says. “Dr. Hannah is kind and has a special way about her that calms animals.”