Growing up around animals, Dr. Sarah Smith has known since her early years that she wanted to become a veterinarian for both the animals she loved and the people who owned them.

“I had a lot of dogs and cats, horses, goats, pigs, cows, chickens, ducks, and rabbits,” Smith said. “They were all special, and there are special memories with each one.”

For 30 years, Smith has shared her love of animals with her clients at the Sleeping Giant Veterinary Clinic in Talladega, and in that time, dogs and cats have been the usual visitors to the clinic. But that doesn’t mean there’s never been an unusual circumstance regarding them.

“Some of the things that dogs eat will surprise you sometimes,” Smith said, chuckling. A few things she has seen in her time include spatulas, rocks, coins, golf balls and buttons.

After emergencies such as these are taken care of, Smith goes the extra mile and performs the routine checks on pets that are an important part of their care, as well.

“We cover different aspects of a pet’s exam other than what clients bring them in for,” explained Smith. “We check to see if there’s anything else going on with the pet to be sure that everything else is OK, even though they brought it in for a different problem.”

Smith hopes the preventive measures provided at Sleeping Giant create a special bond between the veterinarian and her clients.

“You get to know the clients very well and have relationships with clients that you wouldn’t have in a larger business,” Smith said.

Through these relationships, Smith is able to educate pet owners to take care of animals in the best way possible.

As she looks back on 30 years as a veterinarian and a small business owner, Smith advises that anyone starting up a business should know their business well and have a plan beforehand, taking rent, supplies and services into consideration.

“Each day can bring in something new. You never know what you’re going to have that day until it’s over,” Smith said. “It can get hectic and hard sometimes to balance your life.”

Still, Smith says, it has all been worth it.

Contact Darden Walton at news@dh.com.