Passion is a funny thing. Some people try to find theirs for decades. Others know their life purpose before they can even recite the alphabet. Such is the case for veterinarian Dr. Ashley Geoghegan—affectionately known as Dr. G.
“My goal was always veterinary medicine,” she said. “There was never a Plan B.” A glimpse into her past might reveal why. Growing up, pets were simply part of her family. After dinner, her parents would grab bags of dog or cat food and take Dr. G and her brother to feed colonies of stray animals. Her love and compassion for animals of all kinds started at a very young age. “I feel more myself when I’m around animals,” she said. “I feel off when there are no animals around. I can remember my childhood neighbors’ pets and their names, but I can’t remember my neighbors’ names,” she chuckled.
Dr. G strives to adopt shelter, stray or abandoned animals—specifically the ones that no one else will adopt. “I find the misfits, or maybe they find me,” she said. Now a mother herself, she has four young, energetic children and equally energetic pets. “At this point, I’m trying to keep the animal kingdom to a dull roar,” she laughed. “We’re down to two dogs, three feral cats, one bearded dragon and some fish.” She firmly believes that having pets is beneficial to children, teaching them empathy, compassion and responsibility.
Dr. G grew up in New Orleans and attended the University of Miami on an ROTC scholarship. She graduated from LSU School of Veterinary Medicine and entered the US Army as an officer. She traveled the world caring for the canines who serve our country. She treated President Bush’s bomb dogs as well as the 9/11 search and rescue canines. Dr G also had the honor of serving at Guantanamo Bay, caring for the dogs who guard the prisoners. She was slated for anti-terrorist training in Iraq when tragedy struck. Her husband Dr. Shaun Carpenter was diagnosed with cancer, and Dr. G flew home to take care of him.
She completely overhauled their lifestyle, threw away most of the food in their pantry and replaced it with whole organic foods. “I started researching natural treatments and holistic approaches to caring for our bodies and was very encouraged by the results,” she explained. “It soon occurred to me, if this works on people, why not on animals?” With a husband who was now cancer free and doing great in the new lifestyle, Dr G turned her focus toward the health of her four-legged patients. She owned a mobile veterinary clinic at the time, and after eight years she had begun to feel burned out. “I saw the same patients with the same problems, year after year. They were living but not thriving,” she said. “It was always, take this pill, take this medicine. I knew something had to change, and I knew that I could be the one to change it.”
Intrigued by the possibility of combining Eastern and Western medicine, Dr. G began integrative medical training under the renowned Dr. Huisheng Xie of the Chi Institute. She then opened VetNaturally offering integrative and holistic treatments like acupuncture, food therapy, Chinese herbs, medical massage, essential oils and laser therapy. These treatments have given new hope to once paralyzed patients who now walk with “nothing but needles and herbs” as well as cancer patients and everyone in between.
Dr. G is an enthusiastic champion of her craft. “I really enjoy working with the referring veterinarians and having a team approach to health care. When patients get the best of the east with VetNaturally and the best of the west from their family veterinarian, the results are truly incredible.”
With an abundance of gratitude to Mandeville Animal Hospital for housing VetNaturally for the last few years, Dr. G has set her sights on the future. She is expanding her services and building a state-of-the-art new facility created by architects Greenleaf Lawson and Sal Longo, with construction by Brett Davis. The Girod Street treatment center in Mandeville won’t be an ordinary veterinarian’s office. Dr. G envisions a holistic veterinary medical center with a pet spa, medical massage, medical baths for geriatric patients, luxurious pet suites, and a grassy playground with water features—all with a focus on the community. “We want pet parents to enjoy our new place, too,” she says. The building is set to break ground this fall. “We’re not ahead of curve,” she says with a smile. “We’re defining it.”
Dr. G is a clear leader in her field. She guest teaches integrative medicine at LSU School of Veterinary Medicine as well as the Chi Institute in Florida where she received her integrated certification. Her training and life experience have come full circle. She recalls being a veterinary student at LSU and a professor pointing out every one of her furry patients in a treatment row of 100 cages. This professor pointed to a cage and said, “Geoghegan,” then point to another, “Geoghegan, Geoghegan.” A fellow student asked the professor how she knew these were Dr. G’s patients. “Because they all have a pillow, they all have a blanket and they all have a toy,” she quipped. Dr. G continues to bring the same compassion, love and tender care to every one of her patients.
VetNaturally by Dr. G is located in Mandeville. For more information, please call 985-718-9991 or visit vetnaturally.com. The future home of VetNaturally will be at 123 Girod St. in Mandeville.