Over the past 40 years Crawley vet David Clare has cared for all creatures great and small - in fact a whopping 150,000 of them.
And during that time he has seen the industry change dramatically from the old days of James Herriot to the technological bionics of the Supervet.
But now David, who began nurturing and treating Crawley pets when he set up in practice in Three Bridges Road in 1976, is set to retire.
David - who admits to having shared many a tear with the owners of cherished pets - is to hang up his stethoscope next month.
Today he has two successful branches of David Clare & Associates in Three Bridges and Gossops Green but before moving to Crawley, he travelled the world as a vet.
He worked on large animals in Australia, treated tropical diseases in wild animals in Africa and worked with zoo animals and race horses in Canada.
After moving to Crawley he became treasurer of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and has been widely regarded in the veterinary community as a gold standard vet.
“The biggest thing that I’ve learned in my time and would pass on to vets of the future is that it doesn’t matter how specialised you are or what shiny equipment you have, it’s about how much you care about your patients and their owners,” he said.
“If you truly are the champion of the pet and a trusted support to the owner then you can say that you’re a good vet.
“I like to think that I have always been the advocate of the pet and I have certainly shared many a tear with owners when saying goodbye to their beloved friends that I have treated over the years. It is a privilege to be there for a pet for all of its life.”
As he prepares to retire on October 7, he leaves the business in the capable hands of his son Mike Clare who is also the owner of Windmill Vets in London Road.
The three practices will all be under the David Clare name in the near future. The group will be run by head vets Nicola Metcalfe and Liz Walker.
Mike Clare said: “I’m very proud of the contribution he has made to pets and their owners and I’m delighted that we’re able to keep things in the family.
Although “DC” as I call him will be sadly missed, the veterinary team is established and is ready to take care of all our customers to the same high standard that has been set by David over the years.”
David will still stay part of the business in a mentoring capacity over the next few years.The Practice has said that clients who want to say farewell are welcome to pop into the Gossops Green surgery over the next couple of weeks or post messages on the David Clare Vets Facebook page.