Winter 2014

The Conversation

David McGrath, V86, talks about his golden lab, his mentor and why he doesn’t run the Boston Marathon

By Brenda Conaway

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David McGrath earned his master’s and veterinary degrees at Tufts. Photo: Alonso Nichols

Home: Andover, Massachusetts

Profession: Veterinarian and proprietor of seven animal hospitals in Massachusetts and New Hampshire

What He Does In His Spare Time: Chair of the board of advisors to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University (and member since 1996); trustee emeritus, Tufts University

Four-Legged Companion: Sarah, his 1½-year-old golden lab. “Sarah was born with a couple of genetic problems—she’s had hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Even with my practice, I had to go out to the Foster Hospital at Tufts to have some specialty work done on both those joints.”

Personal Hero: “Henry ‘Hank’ Foster was a great, great friend and mentor of mine. He was inspirational and critical in getting the veterinary school started back in the late ’70s. It was his generosity that helped build the small animal hospital. Henry was also crucial in helping me understand how important it was to give back to the Cummings School.”

Ardent Supporter Of: The renovation of the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals, where Sarah was treated. “While I’ve probably had more insight into what’s going on than the average client, [the hospital staff members] were great about explaining what they were going to do. The staff is incredible—they called me before the surgery, right after surgery and then the next day. We’ve had amazing results! Sarah is running around now, good as new.”

The Foster Hospital opened in 1985, with the original goal of caring for 12,000 animals each year. Now more than 28,000 furry and feathered patients come through the doors annually.

“The animals in need of care deserve a comforting, state-of-the-art facility on par with the vast talents of the clinicians and students who do such exceptional work.”

Best Way to Avoid Running the Boston Marathon: Throw a big party. “My Natick office, the Natick Animal Clinic, is at mile nine on the marathon route. We have to close every Patriots’ Day because 10,000 runners go right by our front door. When the Tufts President’s Marathon Challenge started back in 2003, I thought it was a great program. I ran cross-country back in high school, but it seemed much easier to host a barbecue rather than run with the Tufts Marathon Team. We have a couple hundred family members of the runners come by, and we feed them doughnuts and coffee for breakfast and chicken, burgers and potato salad for lunch. We set up tables so the kids can make posters to hold up for the runners. It’s become a fun event.”

Proof That Dreams Do Come True: “Since I was 5 years old, I have been fascinated with animals. I always wanted to be a veterinarian, and Tufts gave me a chance to do that. I’ve been thrilled to be in a position to pay the school back a little bit. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to fulfill my childhood dream.”

His Education: B.A., Cornell University (1981); M.S. in biology (1983) and D.V.M. (1986), Tufts University

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