The Staff

Morningstar Staff, August, 2012

Morningstar Staff, August, 2012

The entire human staff at Morningstar, August 2012 From left to right: Back row: Dr. Bettye Hooley, Dr. Stephanie Farnese, receptionist Danene Barbarousse, Jill of all trades, Sue Sharman; Front row: Certified Veterinary Technician Cris Nicholaus, animal technician Tara Hansen, receptionist Judy Hobbs, technician & ordering maven Paula Haight

Mr. Bird, going on 35 as of August, 2012

Mr. Bird, going on 35 as of August, 2012

Cat Man Do, August 2012

Cat Man Do, August 2012

Our Animal “Staff”

Mr. Bird came to us as part of a pair, almost 35 years ago.  He and his mate raised many clutches of dovelets before they eventually became too old to have healthy chicks.  They were our gentle  background music, and first greeters in the reception area. Two years ago, when his mate became arthritic and experienced what appeared to be a stroke, we worried that he would be unwilling to continue on alone.  For months, he picked at his neck till it was raw, a common bird sign of stress.  He continued to eat well, however, and as time went on he began to coo and cackle again,  seeming content to resume his duties as chief avian greeter.

Catman, or Cat Man Do, came to us via a client who had rescued him in broken condition, only to discover that her dog was NOT amenable to cats in her territory.  He arrived at the clinic with a definite limp, a curled up tail, a weepy eye, and a MAJOR attitude, especially towards dogs!  He would turn into a porcupine cat, every hair on his body fluffed out, every nail extended, every tooth showing, whenever confronted by a dog, which was fairly often, considering he had designated himself chief counter ornament! X-Rays showed that his femur (thigh bone) had been broken in two places and had healed in a S-curve, and that his hip on that side had also been popped out of joint.  He had scars on his face that lead through his tear duct, leaving a perpetual tear leaking from one eye, and he was so tender in the pelvis that he would hiss and try to bite if petted on his rump.  All in all, he did not seem like a good clinic cat candidate, and we tried for months to place him in a good, safe, loving home.  Finally he tried to attack one too many dog patients, and Dr. Hooley had to have “The Talk” with him.  It was gently and lovingly explained to him that he just could not stay at the clinic any longer if he was going to attack our patients, and he was given one last chance to prove himself.  Amazingly, he opted to stay at the clinic and give up his vendetta on dogs! Over time, he has had surgeries to repair the hip luxation, but continues to limp due to the poorly aligned fracture. He is still sensitive over his pelvis, and much prefers the head & neck pets to the rump pats. He feels it is his duty to make sure the front doors work properly, and can be seen entering and exiting repeatedly, just to give a new person the chance to act as his doorman.

Tara & her newest rescue, Molly, August 2012

Tara & her newest rescue, Molly, August 2012


In May of 2002, my husband Erik and I relocated to Montrose Colorado from Southwest Florida. I am originally a Jersey girl, but have quickly adapted to the active outdoor lifestyle of western Colorado. My hobbies include hiking, biking, snow shoeing, rafting, beading, garage sale shopping and spending quality time with my husband and dogs.  In 2005, we received two new additions to our loving home. Gypsy, our black lab-hound mix, stays active by going on hikes and chasing birds and butterflies. Oslo, our yellow lab enjoys Frisbee, swimming, getting belly-rubs and giving  kisses .  Most of our clients have met Lily during her 1 year rescue recovery; now that we live in the country she has become a member of our muttley crew! She is an amazing little dog with a big heart. She reminds us daily how to appreciate each day! Our dogs give us much pleasure and we look forward to the many adventures spent with Gypsy and Oslo & Lily!

I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, and really enjoy working as Dr. Hooley’s technician. My primary duties include assisting with surgeries and appointments, performing dental hygiene and lab work, taking/developing radiographs, filling prescriptions, client education and overall patient care. I am continually striving to learn new procedures and technical skills.

What I really enjoy most about my job is helping our client’s loved ones and listening to their favorite pet stories. I understand how special pets are, and how much we can learn from them. I also enjoy educating clients on nutrition & dental care.  These are the foundations of good health for your pet.  I work with a nice and dedicated staff, all of whom are committed to providing a more natural, holistic approach to caring for our animal friends.


Cris and her newest rescue, Zee, August, 2012


I have lived in Montrose for the better part of my life, and love it here.  I left for about a year to live and work in Hawaii, but was delighted to get back to my Colorado Mountains.  My husband and I have our own business, Western Slope Plumbing & Welding, and I do all the bookkeeping for it.  I am also a full time MOM of two great grade-schoolers.  With my part-time work at Morningstar, that makes me busy about 150% of the time!

I received my Associates in Applied Science, Veterinary Technology in 1988 from Colorado Mountain College and became a Certified Veterinary Technician.  I began working for Dr. Hooley in 1988, and have worked at Morningstar off and on ever since.  In 1999 my husband and I decided to start a family; our daughter Reilly arrived, 3 1/2 months early, weighing 1.1lbs. Needless to say, I was unable to return to work for a while.  Two years after Reilly was born, our son Grady arrived, thankfully with no complications.  They have been my priority for the last few years.  I am now at a point I can resume the career I love on a part time/fulltime basis.  I am anxious to reconnect with all the clients and their pets that I have missed seeing during those at-home years.

As a CVT I am well versed in all areas of the practice.  I enjoy using my technical skills as well as engaging in client/ patient relations.  I love being able to help clients understand what is going on with their pet in terms they can understand.  My favorite part is being able to communicate with both the animal and the person, so they can understand we are all doing the very best we can for all of them.

My outside interests are:  Riding horses (I Love them!)  trap shooting, skiing, snowmobiling and camping.

I look forward to seeing everyone again and working with Dr. Hooley and the great support staff!!

PS. I do have animals of course.  Shark and Hunter (the dogs), Rotten (who just turned 20) and Splash (the cats), my girls the Chickees (20 of them) , and one pony Roseberry.

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