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  • DR. JOHN A. HARDY, OWNER OF ACADEMY FOOT AND ORTHOTIC CLINICS WOULD LIKE TO SHARE A HEART WARMING STORY OF OUR BELOVED VET!

Stouffville vet took ‘slow lane on high road’

 
Newmarket Era

It was a sight seldom, if ever, seen on the Main Street of Markham.
A late 1800s carriage, pulled by a team of black Percherons, driven by Whitchurch-Stouffville’s Blair Purcell and flanked by four  Toronto Police mounted unit riders.
The cortege was a fitting tribute to a man who, as an admired equine veterinarian, had selflessly served the communities of Markham and Stouffville for 50 years.
Dr. Ralph Watt passed away peacefully at his Ballantrae home Aug. 3.
He was 81.
Born in Lancaster, Ont., Dr. Watt opened his first clinic in Thornhill following graduation in 1960 from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph.
Following a move to Markham, he established the Mt. Joy Animal Clinic, specializing in everything from pet cats and dogs to horses.
His final stop was Ballantrae, regarded by many as “genuine horse country”. A plaza clinic on Felcher Boulevard, west of Hwy. 48, served clientele from a wide area and included a staff of five, Dr. Al Thompson, Dr. Karen Drewell, Joanne George, Lori Tuck and Bene Goodman.
While in the words of his brother Donald, Dr. Watt was “the essence of a true country vet”, to his staff and clients he was more – much more.
“He was a father and grandfather to all of us,” said Ms George, an employee for 25 years. “His kindness and caring included animals, large and small.” 
Rev. Peter Ma, minister at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Markham, where the service was held last week, described Dr. Watt as “an amazing person”. 
“His entire life was wrapped up in serving and caring,” he said. “He treated everyone with kindness and respect.”
“One of a kind,” said staff employee Bene Goodman. “He was a gentleman of integrity and honesty. He was more than my employer to me. He was my friend.” 
“From Dr. Watt, I learned compassion and empathy for equine patients,” said Dr. Elfriede Rosskopf. “He was a wonderful role model for me and other young veterinarians.”
While passionate about his career, he always put family first, Dr. Rosskopf said, including wife Joanne, children Sandy, Bruce and Peggy and grandchildren Stephanie and Kyle.
“He chose the slow lane but the high road,” said his brother.
Client Frank VanVeen described Dr. Watt as someone who can never be replaced.
“There’s no one to fill his shoes,” he said. “He made himself available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
Marsha Fortus, also a client, labelled Dr. Watt “a hero to horsemen”. He was also a people person, she said, recalling a comment he made when called to treat an ailing horse at her farm.
“Better in the barn than in the house,” she remembered him saying.
Sheri Van Sickle said she’d known Dr. Watt most of her life. She said he always put personal satisfaction ahead of financial gain.
“He made it affordable for young people to own horses,” Ms Van Sickle said.
What touched Sheri most was Dr. Watt’s relationship with an organization called Longrun Thoroughbred Retirement Society, a club that finds homes for horses past their racing prime. Dr. Watt treated these animals without charge, she said. He was also the official veterinarian for the mounted unit for Toronto Police.
Jim Thomas is a Stouffville resident who has written for area newspapers for more than 60 years.

This was our vet for over 30 years.  A true gentleman and extremely knowledgable.  Loved him to the end and truly miss him already.  Big shoes to fill.  My last horse Prince, which I had since he was 6 months old lived into his 30th year.  He passed away from congestive heart failure.I phoned Dr. Watt and told him that my beloved horse had reached the end of the line he immediatey came to my house and made arrangements to have him removed that evening.  Just the finest man I have ever met.  I stand in his shadow always!

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