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Dr. Cook honored at Countryside Veterinary Clinic open house

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CHAMPION — After sharing his knowledge, love and passion for veterinary services at the Carthage office of Countryside Veterinary Clinic since it opened in October 1990, Dr. Miller A. Cook has retired.

The 1958 graduate of the state veterinary college at Cornell University, Ithaca, came to the twin villages in 1959. He had practiced in Oswego with Dr. Myron L. Dimon prior to taking over the practice of Dr. William E. Carroll.

The “horse doctor,” as veterinarians were called when he began, had decided to go into the field after growing up on his father’s hobby farm.

“It was a small dairy farm and I liked to work with the animals,” Dr. Cook said.

When he started practicing in Carthage, his practice, where Dunkin’ Donuts stands today, was 75 percent large animals. He had an office hour starting at 7 p.m. each evening to treat cats and dogs.

In 1962, Dr. Cook had a new veterinary clinic constructed on Cole Road across the street from the Carthage Central School District bus garage. It had more space so he could add a waiting room and have a larger examination/operating room. He also obtained an X-ray machine from Dr. William D. Wiley’s Deferiet office.

“I got the X-ray machine and he got a gun I had,” Dr. Cook said.

He said Carthage Area Hospital, Carthage, developed the X-rays for him. He said Libnan “Lib” Astafan did blood chemistry for the veterinary office.

When the owners of Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Lowville decided to expand to Carthage in 1990, Dr. Cook contacted them to offer that they take over his clientele. Drs. Harry P. O’Connor, Charles H. Allen, Peter G. Ostrum and Mark Thomas built the clinic at 21995 Cole Road in 1990, breaking ground in May and opening in October.

“It worked out great for both of us,” Dr. Cook said. He noted that in the 1980s, new regulations dealing with toxic waste such as syringes and amputated parts came into effect and it was difficult for a small office to comply.

“It was nice to work for somebody else,” he said. He already had a relationship with the clinic, which offered coverage while he took vacations and where he could turn when expertise in specialized fields was needed.

“Dr. Allen did (orthopedic) work with hip replacements,” for example, Dr. Cook said.

He said working at the Countryside Veterinary Clinic brought his practice into the 20th century.

“Countryside could do as complete of a job as you could do. They had chemistry in house, they were doing dentistry and using gas anesthesia, which was safer for the animal than injection,” Dr. Cook said.

The doctors at the clinic and owners said Dr. Cook has been a good influence on the practice and will be missed.

“I’m sad to see him go. He is an institution in the north country,” Dr. Ostrum said. “You’ll never find anyone who loved his job more or was more loved by his clients. He’s a special man.”

Dr. Ostrum said the retired veterinarian shared his love and passion for the field with the younger veterinarians and was a great role model.

“I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Cook. He took me under his wing when I started here. He is kind and generous, always smiling. It’s been a true pleasure to work with him,” Dr. Marcus Hetzner said.

“He’s probably like me — wishing his career would last forever,” Dr. Allen said. “Working for more than 50 years is incredible. He’s done a nice job and been a joy to work with. His professionalism shows and he’s one heck of a nice person.”

To celebrate 40 years of veterinary service and Dr. Cook’s retirement, which was effective Dec. 31, the clinic held an open house recently.

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