Photo By Coburn Dukehart / MPW.57

Dr. Tom Blumhorst is a small-town vet with a big-time practice. He opened the Blumhorst Veterinary Hospital in Marshall, Mo., in 1979 in an abandoned gas-station building, and over the years has earned the trust of the local community. The practice is strictly for small animals, and houses a grooming and boarding facility. Blumhorst, 54, works more than 80 hours a week, and says the variety of his job keeps it interesting. "I am blessed," he says. "I go to work every day like I am playing golf. I love what I do."

Blumhorst and his wife, Kathy, were voted citizens of the year in 2004, and are extremely civic minded. "Volunteerism is crucial, otherwise communities wouldn't be able to survive," he says. His son Jeremy, 28, is currently in veterinary school, and is poised to take over the family practice in three years. Dr. Blumhorst also stands out in the veterinary community as one of the few surgeons in the area to perform controversial ear cropping on breeds that typically have shortened, upright ears. He describes the process as "delicate artwork," and believes that other vets shy away from the practice because there is little margin for error. "I really like being good at this, it gets me respect from fellow veterinarians," he says. Some surgeries you can do with shaky fingers - this one you have to have a real touch."

Blumhorst even goes to work on his days off - arriving early in the morning to feed the animals and clean their cages. When he leaves for the night he turns on "Animal Planet" to keep the pets company. Physical fitness is exceptionally important to him. He works out at the YMCA up to six days a week. The hard work has paid off - he and his wife have modeled for a Hallmark card, and recently he posed for a local artist who is doing a series on the life of Christ. "A lot of people wouldn't like my life," he says. "I just love work. I love the trust people give to me. My clients are my friends. I know them."