Dr. Adrianne Nobel-Clark clips the nails of a pug named Sable at the Waltz Animal Clinic. Clark, a Purdue graduate, said she has always loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian since childhood. Although many of her daily tasks are not what she thought of as veterinarian work, she has found a lot of joy in her work. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Dr. Adrianne Nobel-Clark clips the nails of a pug named Sable at the Waltz Animal Clinic. Clark, a Purdue graduate, said she has always loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian since childhood. Although many of her daily tasks are not what she thought of as veterinarian work, she has found a lot of joy in her work. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Adrianne Noble-Clark has had a love and interest in animals since childhood, and she has a picture to prove it.

A picture she created in kindergarten now hangs in her Madison office as a memento of her lifelong love and commitment to helping animals.

Her grandmother, Sallie Hatter, held on to the picture for Clark through the years and gave it back to her as a graduation gift when Clark completed her studies last year at Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine.

"It's something I've always wanted to do," Clark said of veterinary medicine. "They can't tell you what's wrong. I like the challenge of that."

A native of Georgia, Clark earned her bachelor's degree in biology at Xavier University in New Orleans. While finishing her undergraduate degree, Clark began looking at veterinarian programs.

She hadn't really made a decision on a school until she met the dean of Purdue University's College of Veterinary Medicine at a conference. The dean told her about the school's small class sizes and the close-knit community of students.

"I didn't choose Purdue," Clark said. "Purdue chose me."

The university matched what Clark was looking for in a program, and she moved to Indiana to begin classes once she was accepted into the program.

It's also the small and close-knit community atmosphere that brought Clark to Madison in July after graduating from the Purdue program. She learned of the job opening at Waltz Animal Clinic during her externship at a Seymour veterinary office.

"It's small, but you have exactly what you need," she said of the local clinic. "I feel like I can get to know everyone."

On any given day, Clark may see and treat dogs and cats for a variety of health issues.

Owners might bring their pets to the clinic for preventative measures, such as a nail trim, or for more serious health issues or sicknesses. No day is ever the same at the clinic, she said.

Even though Clark thought she knew what to expect as a veterinarian, working in the field has proven to be quite different than what she originally expected when she drew that kindergarten picture years ago. She often has to deal with infections, surgeries and euthanasia - less glorious parts of the job of working with pets.

"Everyday I guarantee you something with bad skin is going to walk through that door," she said.

Most of the skin issues stem from fleas and are easily treated with medicine. Yet a diagnosis for an injury or ailment isn't always that easy.

"Half the battle of being a good veterinarian is asking the right questions," Clark said.

Small changes in a pet's behavior might help to figure out what the problem is since animals can't tell a veterinarian what's wrong, she said. Asking the most detailed questions are important as a pet's owner may not realize the smallest change could point to the biggest issue.

"You have to be all these '-ologists' all in one," Clark said, explaining veterinarians have to understand pet biology, psychology and other specialties for several different animals. "It's something you've got to love."