SANTA CRUZ – When it comes to finding direction in life, some people are guided by a single interest that seamlessly segues into a professional career. For Dr. David Horne, owner of Companion Animal Hospital in Santa Cruz, his life’s direction was the result of a specific combination: a love of dogs and a fascination with the biological complexities of life. However, if it hadn’t been for the acquired company of a few influential people, he might never have thought to put these two passions together. “As a young man, I got involved in training retrievers for competition in field trials and became acquainted with a few veterinary students, as well as the Dean of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis,” he explains. “I had a real passion for working with dogs, and I was always interested in what makes us all tick, so I decided veterinary work would be a great career choice.”
After several years of hard work, David graduated from UC Davis with an emphasis on companion animal medicine and surgery. From the outset of his professional career, he made it a priority to establish himself in a locale that provided ready accessibility to the activities he enjoyed. “I grew up surfing while in Palo Alto, and I wanted to continue to do that after finishing school,” he says. “When I looked at my father and his busy career, I realized I wouldn’t have time to do those types of things unless they were right in my own backyard. With that in mind, I set up my practice in Santa Cruz. Anyone who’s lucky enough to live on this coast should feel blessed by the sheer variety of things to do. It’s an amazing area.”
While the coastal milieu provided both a professional and recreational livelihood for Dr. Horne, he never could have guessed how these two elements would converge to bring him into contact with his future wife and co-worker, Dr. Donna Baird. “We actually met underwater on a scuba diving trip,” he remembers. “We both belonged to a nationwide network of veterinarians whose purpose was both continuing education and facilitating adventure trips.” David was intrigued after their initial meeting, but it wasn’t until they met again two years later that he took the opportunity to divulge his interest. Ten years later, he and Donna are still living and working together in Santa Cruz.
When he’s not at Companion Animal Hospital or in the ocean, Dr. Horne likes to keep up with his daughters, Ashley and Elizabeth, both of whom live and work in Portland, Oregon. He also enjoys archery and spending time with his Australian Cattle Dogs, Corey and Sheila. “They’re the only true, Australian-developed breed of herding dogs—basically a cross between European Collie-type dogs and the Australian wild dogs known as dingoes,” he explains. “They’re a little more challenging to train, but they’re just that much more alert and intense, and they’re extremely devoted.”
Looking back on his 35 years in the animal health care industry, Dr. Horne has only positive things to say. “I love working with animals as well as the people who care about them. It’s been an incredible career and I’m very satisfied with it.” In regard to a personal philosophy, David believes true success is comprised of both gratitude for the present and expectations of the future. “I think it’s important for us to count our blessings and focus on what we have. I believe everybody will have the opportunity to do something incredible in their life—they just need to pay attention and be ready when it happens.”