As many of you know, we recently changed our name from Circle of Life Animal Wellness Center to Billings Animal Family Hospital.  I don’t know how many people have asked, “Why?”.  Well, let me try to explain the best way I know how!

“Change is good!”  Or at least that is what more than one self-help guru will try to make you believe.  But why change from something people know and recognize?  Growing up as a child, my name was mutilated more than you can imagine.  Edie Ballensky – my maiden name.  If only I had a dollar for every time I was called “Eddie”!!  Don’t get me wrong….I have nothing against Eddie’s in general, it’s just that they are usually male, and I am clearly NOT!!  I cursed my parents more than once and threatened to change my name when I was legally able.  To Veronica or Samantha or something long and sexy and clearly not male!!  Ballensky….now that was another matter.  I realize last names are often complicated compilations of ancestry, family origins, etc. and often mispronounced, but read it a few times and think of all the possibilities!  But soon I came to love Edie (my proper name is Edith, which I adore, but I probably won’t use it until I’m 80 or so….), and now there are SO many wonderful Edie’s around….actresses, celebrities and even just common folk like myself!  In fact there was a new baby girl born in Billings just last week named Edie!  It still gets mispronounced often, but now I just laugh it off and remind people that there is only one “D” in the name and perhaps they should go back to grammar school and revisit pronunciation!!  About 20 years ago I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful man with an amazing last name and I conned him into marrying me so I could be “Dr. Best”!!  Actually I wasn’t a doctor yet, but I knew I would be one someday…..  So there you have it, the story of my name.  If any of you call or come in and ask for Dr. Eddie….we will both get a good laugh!

Now, back to the BUSINESS name change, because that’s what’s really important here.  As some of you might know, the practice originated as Heath Veterinary Hospital back before I was born.  Dr. Heath started the practice and back then it was normal to name the practice after yourself, so everyone knew where to find you.  Dr. Jourdan then owned the practice, but the name remained the same, because people KNEW it and why change something that everyone knew?  When Dr. Allbright purchased the practice in the late 1980’s she retained the Heath name for the same reasons.  When I started with the practice in 1997, I thought the practice was named after the Heath candy bar, a chocolate-covered toffee delight!!  I quickly realized that I was wrong, but the front office staff did give out Heath candy bars to new clients to remind them who we were!  At the time of the building remodel in 2001, Dr. Allbright decided it was a good time to change the name, and Circle of Life Animal Wellness Center was chosen.  While I was a small part of the decision, I still can’t remember exactly where it came from or how it came to stick.  Dr. Allbright was venturing more into alternative medicine at the time, so the “Wellness Center” concept seemed to fit.  The Disney movie The Lion King was also popular about then, so perhaps it seemed a natural fit.  The name was met with mixed emotions from our clients, but it stuck and people came to recognize it.  It did get shortened a lot, though, because that’s a six-word mouthful when you’re trying to answer the phone!

After I purchased the practice in 2008, I realized I didn’t really care that much for the Circle of Life name, but people KNEW it and I’m basically a conservative soul, afraid of dramatic change, so I left it.  So what happened this year that prompted me to make the leap and change the name?  I came to the realization that the Circle of Life name didn’t fit “me” or my practice style or what I want the practice to mean to me and my clients over the next 20 years or so until I retire.  (Actually I probably won’t be able to retire then, but that’s another matter…..)  It took me about 6 months of deliberation and consultations to eventually come up with a name that I liked and then another 3 months to implement the change.  I spoke with no fewer than 3 veterinary consultants, my family, friends, staff and the gal down at City Brew!!  NOT an easy decision! Finally someone said to me, “Make it easy, meaningful and search-able on Google”. 

If you look in the Yellow Pages (does anyone ACTUALLY do that anymore?!?!), you will see that most veterinary practices in and around the Billings area are named for a geographical region or street name.  A few are still named after the original founder of the practice and a few reflect the practice mission or philosophy.  I wanted a name that was unique, but simple and truly stated how I feel about being a veterinarian and serving my clients in this community of Billings that I love.  So we start with Billings, because that’s where we are and not many practices actually have “Billings” in the name.  I wanted “family” in the name, but struggled with how to use it.  I had suggestions of “Pet Family” and others, but I liked “Animal Family” better.  There is actually an “Animal Family….something something Center” in Iowa!  I figured we were far enough away, there shouldn’t be a conflict!  Now, how to finish off a name?  Hospital vs clinic vs wellness center?  I was against a super-long name again, so I nixed anything longer than one word.  I also think “hospital” sounds more comprehensive, advanced, official than “clinic”, so I chose hospital.   So there you have it!  Billings Animal Family Hospital. 

I had the logo designed in a contest on  I highly recommend this site to anyone wanting nice work from several different designers for a very reasonable price.  I had over 200 submissions to my “logo contest”.  I wanted the mountains in my logo, since I see the Beartooths clearly on most of my morning drives in from Huntley.  The wavy lines under the dog and cat I like to think represent the Yellowstone River!  The designer made the cat look super cute and friendly, as we know most cats are!!  I requested the dog resemble one of my favorite breeds, the Australian Cattle dog!!  Yes, I know there are many naughty Heelers out there, but they are incredibly intelligent and loyal and most of them are angels!!!  (Like my Sage and Mardi!!)

Look for more blog posts soon, which I promise to be more “medical” in nature!