Vet Talk: A Tribute to Dr. Michael Lender

We may consider ourselves lucky to find one person in our lifetime who affects our personal and professional life in a profound way, shaping us as a person. Dr. Michael Lender, a veterinarian who loyally served the local community at the Orange Veterinary Hospital for 40 years was such a person to me. Dr, Lender passed away last month following a brief illness.{{more}} His loss is felt around the community, and especially by his many four-legged patients.

To me, Dr. Lender was a mentor, a colleague, a father figure, and foremost, a friend. I met Dr Lender 20 years ago, working as a kennel worker in his hospital. He took me under his wing and nurtured my desire to become a veterinarian. Twenty years later I am a practicing veterinarian, a culmination of my career built upon his guidance and philosophies.

Forty years ago, Dr. Lender and his wife Marilyn built the Orange Veterinary Hospital from the ground up on the then sleepy Boston Post Rd. They dedicated themselves over the next four decades to create a legacy built upon quality patient care and client commitment. In the past month I have had the opportunity to hear stories from loyal clients about Dr Lender as a person and a veterinarian.

The resounding common theme reflects one of gentle kindness and dedication to his patients and clients alike. Many clients tell stories of how they first met Dr. Lender on a holiday, weekend, or late night visit and saw for themselves the dedication he displayed to his profession. For his entire career he made himself available to his clients and patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

With the recent influx of local emergency hospitals, this is now a lost art form among veterinarians who are general practitioners or family vets. Dr. Lender was always adamant about extending himself for clients no matter what the time of day. He just felt he had a duty to be there for his clients.

Through the years I not only got to know Dr .Lender the veterinarian, but also Michael Lender the husband, father, proud grandfather, and friend. He was known to be quiet and reserved, yet over the years I had a chance to hear many of his humorous stories, one of my favorites being his attendance at rock concerts with his daughter at Toad’s Place in New Haven. He was also the consummate handyman, a “Macgyver” who could fix any broken equipment, especially personal computers. He was known for spoiling his staff with limitless candy and at least once a week a cake for any excuse, of for an occasion,

The people who are important in our lives help define who we are. They are reflected in our beliefs and morals. Dr. Lender has helped define me not only as a veterinarian, but also as a person. In Dr. Lender I have lost a friend and colleague. I can only hope that at some point in my life I will affect someone as profoundly as he has affected me.

Dr. Marc can be reached at Orange Veterinary Hospital 203-795-6091.