Mandi Blackwelder, DVM, CCRP
Dr. Mandi is originally from Boulder, Colorado, where she grew up doing gymnastics, playing the piano and the flute, and performing in theater. She worked her way through her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology at Colorado State University by coaching gymnastics, working as a veterinary assistant and babysitting. When she came up for air, she climbed many of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks and sang in the Rainbow Chorus.
In her last year as an undergraduate, she packed up to spend a semester as the only American student at L’Universite de Sherbrooke, in Sherbrooke, Quebec. After so many years of being driven by the sole goal of getting into veterinary school, she found Quebec an eye-opener. For the first time since she was 10, she didn’t have a job, and she read for hours, studied for her all French-speaking classes, and spent a bit too much time at the campus pub. By the time she came home, she’d learned a little something about life/work balance, which she believes is the only reason she didn’t have a nervous breakdown in veterinary school.
Back in Colorado, she finished her degree, worked a summer at the Denver Zoo and started veterinary school at Colorado State University in 1994 with the intention of doing dairy medicine in the Midwest for the rest of her life. After graduating in 1998, she packed up again and, with her trusty companion Benjimin the Lhasa Apso, moved to Wisconsin….to the classic nightmare first job. She loved the cows, she loved the farming community, she loved small town living, but large-animal medicine was not going to yield the life/work balance she had learned to nourish in Quebec.
With Benjimin on her lap, now joined by Beanie the calico cat with the arrhythmia and Miracle the one-eyed FIV cat, Mandi drove from Wisconsin to Grants Pass. (She had never even heard of the Rogue River!!) She had joined the staff at Riverside Park Veterinary Clinic where she worked for 14 years. To her surprise, she discovered she thrived through the care of dogs and cats and their caring people. She developed a wonderful clientele not just through her work in complementary medicine and acupuncture, but also through her balance of wanting to know YOU in order to better understand your pet.
A sweet elderly neighbor played match-maker and introduced her to a fellow rock climber, Don Alarie, who became her husband in 2002. They now have two sons, Porter and Jackson. Porter thrives in BMX and Jackson is a delight. Jackson has also brought out the advocate in his mom, as he has Fragile X syndrome, a genetic form of autism. Mandi can be found during much of her down-time researching, advocating, visiting our law makers and learning every tidbit of therapy that will help Jackson live a rich life.
Mandi’s life experiences and love for her work have given her a rich enjoyment of people and have bonded her to her clients and the veterinary community.