All the comforts of home
By Denise M. Baran-Unland Correspondent April 29, 2013 2:52PM
Dr. Maxine Franck, owner of Creature Comforts, a mobile veterinary service, and her cat Chip. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Updated: June 1, 2013 6:13AM
Dr. Maxine Franck’s minivan is, by turns, a traveling veterinary office, the family van and the means to transport bikes when she and her husband, Jeff Palmer, also a veterinarian, train for triathlons.
Among the demands of raising three children — ages 6, 12 and 15 — along with caring for two cats, a chinchilla and a snake, Franck owns and operates Creature Comforts, which makes house calls for four-legged patients living within a 15-mile radius of Franck’s Plainfield home.
“My business has the personal touch,” Franck said. “I get to know people and their animals. Some have been my clients for 15 years because they know I care. When they call me because Fluffy is having trouble, I know Fluffy’s history.”
Fifteen years ago, when Franck’s first child was born, Franck was working 60 hours a week in private practice, not the ideal schedule when one longs to be with her newborn. Yet, Franck loved her job and didn’t wish to give that up, either. Creature Comforts was her answer.
“It took awhile to build it up so that was a stressful, busy year,” Franck said. “I burned the candle on both ends, but when you have a long-term goal, you can do it.”
Franck quickly realized Creature Comforts filled a need for at-home veterinary care. Her clients include seeing-eye dogs, a family with triplets and two dogs, cats that detest cars and vet offices, friends, relatives, neighbors, fellow church members and people Franck knows socially.
Not only is Franck’s service convenient for owners, it makes exams and routine testing easier on the animals. Many pets become unnerved by the unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells in a typical vet’s office, said Bob Fernandez of Plainfield, one of Franck’s clients.
“They’re still not happy to get their shots,” Fernandez said, “but at least they’re home.”
At a client’s home, Franck is able to perform full physical exams, neurological exams, blood work, skin care, a neurological exam and allergy testing. She can stain eyes to check for corneal ulcers and dispense medication.
If a pet needs certain tests or procedures done — such as X-rays or surgery — Franck does have Friday privileges at a veterinary clinic. Franck does referrals to other pet specialties, such as mobile groomers. She’s also a stickler for that 15-mile radius when accepting new clients.
“If I’m an hour away when someone calls with an emergency and I can’t get there, that’s a problem,” Franck said. “With the way traffic’s changed in the last few years and how the price of gas has gone up, it’s not good to be that far away.”
Linda Dowdy of Romeoville became introduced to Creature Comforts in 2005 and can’t imagine any other veterinarian caring for Rocky and Spike, both 13. Dowdy’s third cat, Madame Mouser, 17, became a diabetic in 2007 but up until Madame Mouser’s death in March, Franck cared for each complication — blood sugar fluctuations and urinary tract infections — with kindness and gentleness.
“She’s the most caring vet I’ve ever had. I would not want to go to anyone else. She treats my animals as if they were her own,” Dowdy said.. “I’m a nurse but it’s like when your own kids get sick. You forget everything you’ve learned about medicine. Dr. Franck walked me through each step.”
Although Franck treats mostly dogs and cats, she does see the occasional rabbit or guinea pig. Caring for dogs is a special delight to Franck because she no longer owns a dog.
“It wouldn’t be fair to a dog because I’m gone so much,” Franck said. “But because I see my clients’ pets — even puppies — I get my doggie fix every day.”
Contact Creature Comforts at 815-439-9938.