Dr. Monica Mansfield with her two sons, Gregg and Phil
By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Dr. Monica Mansfield, 55, greets her patients by sitting on the floor – gently hovering her hand – then touching their furry backs. Kindness and compassion are always paramount to the way she conducts her practice of veterinary medicine at the Medway Animal Hospital, as well as all other parts of her life.
Although she loves being a veterinarian, there are many unique facets to this multi-talented woman. She is a published author of two books and a talented musician and passionate fan, producing and hosting Shrewsbury’s award-winning cable show, “Mostly Rock ‘n Roll.
Her love for animals developed at a young age, she said.
“I think that it was in my chromosomes,” she said of her ultimate decision to become a vet.
After studying animal science at Virginia Tech, she entered Cornell University’s New York State College of Veterinary Medicine. There she met her husband, fellow veterinarian Dr. Keith Mansfield, who is now director of discovery and investigative pathology at Novartis.
She first practiced in New Hampshire for several years, then when she and her family moved to Shrewsbury, at a practice in Auburn for 12 years. She has been at Medway Animal Hospital since 2005.
It was during her years in New Hampshire that she had the foresight to take notes on her more interesting cases. Those notes proved valuable when 10 years later, inspired by James Herriot, an English veterinarian who wrote the classic book, “All Creatures Great and Small,” Mansfield published her first book, “The Black Panties: Tales of Animal Mischief and Veterinary Intrigue.” The unusual title refers to an obstruction she discovered in the gastrointestinal tract of a pastor’s dog. Throughout the book she shares vignettes of her life, both joyful and sorrowful, as a veterinary apprentice in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
In 2011, she published her second book, “When You Have to Say Goodbye – Loving and Letting Go of Your Pet.”
Written for children, the book, which was illustrated by her friend Lennie Peterson, deals with the difficult task of explaining pet euthanasia.
As a vet, Mansfield knows that she must be there for her patients and their families during times when heart-wrenching decisions must be made.
“Bereavement is an important part of what we do. Not a week goes by when I don’t have a conversation about end-of-life. I never get desensitized. I never take it lightly,” she said.
The attraction of music
Another topic near and dear to Mansfield’s life is her love of music. A songwriter, guitar player, and singer, she said, “Music is like oxygen through my veins and for my soul. That too was in my fiber and my chromosomes. It informs who I am in a lot of ways.”
Since 2001, she has been the talent gatherer, interviewer, and producer of her own cable show, “Mostly Rock ‘n Roll.”
She and co-producer Marc Serra have filmed over 150 shows together in the Shrewsbury Media Connection cable studio. Numerous accomplished musicians, such as Ellis Paul, Ari Hest, and Jethro Tull’s members Ian Anderson and Martin Barre, have been her guests.
“It fulfills my desire to bring these excellent musicians a little bit more space to be seen in by as many people as I can in my sphere,” she said.
In addition to hosting the show, Mansfield makes the music come alive by welcoming many of the musicians to her home, where they put on house concerts.
Mansfield and her husband have two sons, Gregg, 22, who is thinking of pursuing his own career as a veterinarian while Phil, 25, is currently in Chicago working towards his Ph.D. in astrophysics. The Mansfields’ dog Liza and cats Ned and Ed round out the family.
And although it’s a busy life, it is one that she does not take for granted.
“Being present for our family and friends in the ways that we compassionately can for each other is the most important thing.”