Lori Lutskas is a licensed veterinary technician and certified canine rehabilitation practitioner in the Integrative Medicine and Rehabilitation service at WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
From Cascade, Idaho, Lori has helped to care for pets at the teaching hospital for 28 years. Her first 13 years were spent in small animal surgery and orthopedics, followed by a nine-year stint in neurology. She has been with the Integrative Medicine service since it was formed in 2016.
She obtained her certification in canine physical therapy from the University of Tennessee in December 2006 and soon after helped to establish a rehabilitation therapy program for pets at WSU.
Lori lives with her partner, Larry, her three dogs, and her cat. She has one son and five grandchildren.
She recently took the time to discuss her experiences at the hospital and other thoughts.
What is your typical day like at the VTH?
My typical day consists of working with many older patients. My day will start being in the underwater treadmill room, getting the patients into the treadmill for strengthening and proprioceptive treatment. Then the patient is taken into our other room for LASER, therapeutic exercises, and other pain control options. I assist with acupuncture and shockwave treatments. I work with the clients with their older pets to help with daily quality of life task. I am also involved with students in teaching about IVM.
What made you want to work in veterinary medicine?
I have the typical story of wanting to be in veterinary medicine at an early age. Once I finished high school, I went to college for veterinary technology. I came to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital after being in general practice for 10 years. There were a couple of driving factors, including that I was looking for more challenges than I could find in general practice and better pay and a benefit package. I had a fellow classmate from tech school here and she said I should come to Pullman. After arriving at the teaching hospital, I totally fell in love with the advance medicine/surgery and cutting-edge work. I have enjoyed the learning environment over the last 28 years that can be found at a teaching hospital.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I have found my “home” being in rehab. There are many aspects I enjoy, including that I work with many geriatric dogs. The geriatrics are able to enjoy longer lives with physical rehab. I get the warm cozy feeling knowing I give a few extra years to owners with their loved pets. The next best is taking a neurological patient and “teaching” them to walk again. This is my instant gratification moment. Human physical therapy was my second choice for a career as a child – now I have both!
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
Retired! I will be moving to the family orchard in Emmett, Idaho. The orchard, Williams Fruit Ranch, was homesteaded in 1860 by my great-grandparents from Iowa. We grow cherries, peaches, nectarines, prunes, plums, apples, and hay. Currently, the orchard is being run by my mother, brother, and sister.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I have recently taken up fishing. I like to fish for steelhead and salmon on the south fork of the Clearwater. I enjoy flower gardening, reading novels and being outdoors.
What advice would you give to pet owners?
I would like owners to know there are many things in veterinary medicine that can be done to control pain. There are new tools being used all the time.