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Dr. Karen Spikes

OCCUPATION: Veterinarian and owner of A-Animal Clinic & Boarding Kennel in Fort Worth.

PERSONAL STATS: The Texas A&M graduate returned to her hometown of Fort Worth to practice veterinary medicine, and later opened her own clinic with the help of her husband (whom she met at A&M), Newley. The couple have three kids, Jody, 6, Grady, 2, and Judson, 8 months, in addition to two dogs and one cat. Son Grady, who has Down syndrome, attends Texas Christian University’s Kinderfrogs program.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO RUN YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND BUSY FAMILY? “Newley is the business side of the clinic; we blend our careers and skills together fairly well. While we were opening the clinic we found out that I was pregnant with Grady. All of the prenatal tests were normal; we did not know of his condition prior to birth. Here we were, in the middle of establishing a very fast-growing business, with a young son who has Down syndrome. It came as a shock, but it changed the pace of our life for the better. I rely very much on my husband, who’s a fantastic helper, and the helpful staff at the clinic. At times they work like crazy to get me in and out of exams and out the door — not many people have that support at their job.”

WHAT DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH MOST AS A WORKING MOM? “Time … and prioritizing! In my business, animals are like children to some degree. When I’m at work, I have to focus on the animals getting the healthcare they deserve and then switching to focusing on my family when I arrive home.”

WHAT DO YOU HOPE FOR MOST WHEN YOU THINK OF GRADY’S FUTURE? “Acceptance. When Grady was first born, I really struggled with whether he would be accepted by his brother, his friends, his future peers … I want him to have healthy relationships. I still struggle with this, but I’m hopeful. It’s really refreshing to see him bond with his brothers — he’s sandwiched between two typical kids. He bonds with his big brother, but then he’s an encourager to his younger brother by helping him sit up or reach for something. There’s so much diversity and creativity in this world, and I want our family to be advocates and support people who happen to have disabilities.”

WHAT DOES YOUR FAMILY DO TOGETHER TO RELAX? “It’s pretty common for me to bring patients home on the weekend and set them up in our laundry room. That’s always fun for the kids — they love playing with the animals — and my oldest son loves to learn about the animals’ health. We really blend work and family together. Thankfully I have a fun profession.”

DO YOU HAVE A PARENTING STYLE OR RULES TO GO BY? “There’s no special treatment in our house. Grady is held to the same rules and expectations as his brothers. Jody works a shift at the vet clinic. He has his own scrubs and he’s responsible for filling the dog food bowls. Eventually all three of the boys will have their own responsibilities in the clinic.”