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Enterprise Animal Hospital’s newest veterinarian, Chrissie Younggren, sits with her dog, River, at the clinic Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021.

ENTERPRISE — There’s a new doctor in town — for animals, that is.

Dr. Chrissie Younggren, a veterinarian, joined the practice at the Enterprise Animal Hospital about four months ago after working 2-1/2 years in Baker City.

But it was the way she got the job that proved to be interesting.

She and her then-fiance, Taylor Murray, were rafting on the Grande Ronde River.

“My dog got injured while we were out shed (antler) hunting. He got cut open in his chest,” she said. “We got up early the next morning, rafted out and drove to Flora. I called (Enterprise Animal Hospital owner) Severin (Knudsen) and explained to him that I was a vet and my dog was hurt and I needed to get him into the clinic. So we brought him here and (Knudsen) asked if I wanted to do everything since I’m a vet, or if I wanted him to do it. I said I’d kind of like to do it for my own dog, so he let me sew him up. We woke him up and I said, ‘I’d like to pay (Knudsen) for his time for coming in on a day off because it was a Sunday.’ He said, ‘I won’t charge you anything if you take a job here and let me show you around.’ So we ended up moving.”

Always wanted to be a vet

After growing up in La Grande, Younggren worked for a vet there who told her about Ross University on Saint Kitts — officially Saint Christopher Island — formerly a part of the British West Indies but now independent. She graduated in January 2019 and has worked as a veterinarian ever since.

It turns out another of Enterprise Animal Hospital’s vets, Kala Grover, also attended Ross.

Younggren said she’s always wanted to be an animal doctor.

“I can’t remember wanting to do anything else,” she said. “In fifth grade, you do that thing about spending a day at the place you want to work and I went to a vet clinic.”

She often finds animals easier to relate to than people.

“I find it’s a lot easier for me to get along with animals than it is with people. I’ve always loved them,” she said. “My first pet that was my very own was a rabbit, then cats and then I got a dog when I was working over in Baker. I’ve had all of them.”

Her dog — the one that introduced her to Knudsen — is River, appropriately named given her and Murray’s love for the river life. River is a 3-year-old, mixed-breed cowdog.

Unlike many who choose veterinary medicine, Younggren didn’t grow up on a farm or ranch.

“We had rabbits and chickens, but we lived in town,” she said.

Prefers smaller animals

She said she prefers the smaller pets — cats and dogs — to work with, but also likes working with the larger animals.

“I kind of like the cats that are hard to handle,” she said. “I feel like I’m good with those. Cats and dogs are what I prefer to work with, but I’ll do all of them.”

Coming to a ranching community like Wallowa County, she knows she’ll be called upon to help cows give birth.

“I haven’t worked yet during calving season,” she said. “That’ll be in the spring.”

But she has already experienced middle-of-the-night emergencies.

“The first week I was on call, I got called in the middle of the night three days in a row,” she said. “That was unusual for me; that never happened in Baker.”

One of the cases was a male cat having trouble urinating. Another was a dog with a high fever that they kept in the clinic overnight. The third was five dogs that got quilled by porcupines.

Possibly the most difficult case she’s dealt with was a small one that had an unfortunate ending.

“One of the hardest things I was kind of proud of was we had a guinea pig come in that wasn’t doing very well and I had to put a catheter in it, which was tough because the veins are really tiny,” she said. “That was hard. We sent it home and it didn’t survive the night. I think it had some neurological issues.”

Home life

Younggren said she’s content working at the animal hospital and has no plans to set up a practice of her own.

“No, I might consider buying into a practice, but I don’t want to run one by myself,” she said. “I don’t want to be the boss of everybody and I want to be able to step away from work and have a nice home life.”

She and Murray married in October and he drives a propane truck for Ed Staub & Sons. She said they don’t plan on having kids and they’ll make Enterprise their permanent home — just with their animals.

“We love it here. My husband’s a big fly-fisherman and I’m really into hiking and backpacking,” she said. “We were up here a lot anyway (before moving). We both really like it.”

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