Dr. Ellie Johnson
DVM, Practice Co-Owner
One of my fondest childhood memories is of Dr. Ernie bumping down our New England farm driveway in his El Camino. As our farm’s vet, he was a regular visitor who primarily cared for our horses but also was kind enough to care for my pet ladybug (yes, an actual ladybug) when she wouldn’t roll over. I was probably 4 or 5 at the time and thought she was just sick. I looked up to Dr. Ernie and I knew he could fix her, so when he had to take her back to his office for proper treatment, I was very grateful! At that young age, I decided that I wanted to be just like him – El Camino and all!
Well, here I am now, living my dream! Of course I didn’t end up with an El Camino, (and I am okay with that!) but I am so glad that I pursued my dream to become a veterinarian. I moved out here from the East Coast to attend UC Davis and fell in love with California, so I stayed. I’ve been here at Woodland Vet Hospital for almost 2 decades now! One of the things I find most rewarding about my work is helping BOTH the patients AND their owners. Veterinary medicine is not just about taking care of animals. It is about helping people too. My goal for every appointment is to try to meet the needs of patients and their owners.
After that first ladybug, I have had many wonderful personal pets. Currently, I have a dog named “Jumper”. He is an 8 year old Vizsla who was named “Jumper” for the obvious reason…He punctuates everything he does by jumping. I think he may spend as much time with his feet off the ground as he does with them on the ground! I also have a very special horse named “A la mode.” We have been together since the moment she was born. I am a dressage rider and I also really enjoy natural horsemanship. A la mode is a great partner for both of these disciplines. I hope to someday be able to perform at the highest level with her but no matter how far we get, it has been a wonderful journey.
When I am not in the office, I’m at home running my small farm with Jumper’s help.
Dr. Keith Rode
DVM, Practice Co-Owner
I grew up wanting to be a veterinarian since before I can even remember (according to my mom), and while many kids want to be a veterinarian but ultimately change their minds, I never moved on from the dream. While I don’t know what it was that specifically sparked my interest, I know that there were plenty of life experiences along the way that helped solidify it: going with my childhood pets to their veterinary exams, reading (and re-reading) all of the James Herriot books, taking pre-veterinary courses at the farm at Vintage High School in Napa, and watching a presentation by the first veterinarian in space, to name a few.
Because of my interest in becoming a veterinarian, pursuing college at UC Davis made perfect sense for me. As an undergraduate there, I majored in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior; but beyond that, I wrote a weekly column for the student newspaper, sang in the University Chorus and the Liquid Hotplates a cappella group, acted in a production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, found a nerdy interest in linguistic anthropology, and met the woman that would become my wife. I went straight from undergrad into veterinary school at UC Davis, where I graduated in 2006. Some of my most unique and memorable veterinary school experiences include traveling to Mexico and central Africa to provide veterinary services to isolated villages and spending one month in Washington, DC, in a governmental relations externship with the American Veterinary Medical Association. My wife and I got married at the beginning of my senior year of veterinary school.
I started working at Woodland Veterinary Hospital just after graduation, and I am so pleased to have called WVH my work home ever since. I love living and working in a small town (not unlike the Napa of my youth), and I enjoy having both my established clients and patients (who I see around town regularly) as well as meeting new ones. I believe in WVH so much that I became a co-owner of the business in 2012, which means that I will be here for the foreseeable future. My work interests are varied, and include surgery, dentistry, and endocrine diseases. I feel very fortunate to enjoy what I do for a living, and to be enthusiastic about the place where I work and my work “family.”
Outside of work, I enjoy sports (I’m a diehard San Francisco Giants and 49ers fan), reading, crossword puzzles, travel, and singing when I can. I really enjoy being involved in different avenues of service as well. I have been an active member of the Woodland Sunrise Rotary Club since 2009, and served as its president in 2016-17. While I have had many great memories from Rotary, one significant passion of mine is supporting Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate polio worldwide. I have also been involved in the veterinary community at the local and state level. I have been president of both the Sacramento Valley Veterinary Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Foundation. I am currently on the Board of Governors of the California Veterinary Medical Association representing veterinarians in the greater Sacramento region at the state level. Through CVMA I have developed a passion for legislative advocacy on issues that affect animals, animal owners, veterinarians, and small businesses.
My wife, Jen, and I have two children: Abigail wants to be a marine veterinarian someday, and Noah wants to be the first person to set foot on Mars. Jen taught kindergarten for several years (including at Maxwell Elementary in Woodland), and now stays home with the kids and volunteers extensively at their school. We have two cats, Apollo and Dobby, whom we adopted as kittens from the Yolo SPCA in 2020. Abigail owns a betta fish named Griffy, short for Godric Gryffindor.
I truly hope that my excitement for my career is shown in the interactions I have with each patient and client. I look forward to working at Woodland Veterinary Hospital for many years to come!
Dr. Julia Larson
DVM, Associate Veterinarian
I have enjoyed being an Associate Veterinarian at Woodland Veterinary Hospital since 2004. I grew up in rural Palmer, Alaska on a small farm and moved to California to attend veterinary school. I have lived in Woodland since 2001.
My love of animals started at a very young age with a multitude of farm animals that included horses, goats, rabbits, chickens, geese, ducks, dogs, cats, and tropical fish. Horses were my first true love. Needless to say, with all these pets, the local veterinarians were out at the farm fairly often and were close family friends as well. I admired their James Herriot-like lifestyle and spent time volunteering at their clinic when I was in high school. They encouraged me to seek a career as a veterinarian. This dream was realized when I graduated from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999.
As a small animal general practitioner, I am passionate about soft tissue surgery and enjoy my time working on patients in the operating room. Patient health and comfort is a big focus during client visits. I have a knack for dental extractions and love the feeling of knowing that I am helping improve a pet’s health by treating infection in the mouth through cleaning or removing teeth that are causing discomfort and affecting a pet’s quality of life. Another area that affects quality of life is proper weight management for our pets. A fit weight can add years to a pet’s life and improve their overall health the same way it can in people. It is a well-known fact that animals help encourage people to walk and exercise more. I am an avid runner, and working out with pets can be a true motivator for sticking with an exercise routine. There is nothing better than a long run or walk with our furry friends to ease the stress of life.
When I am not working at Woodland Veterinary Hospital, I am often working as a human massage therapist. I became a Certified Massage Therapist in 2010. I enjoy helping move people out of pain, manage their physical and emotional stress and improve their overall quality of life. My background as a veterinarian has given me a good base for anatomy and physiology and allowed a unique perspective in health management of both people and their animal companions.
I am a member of the Woodland Sunrise Rotary Club and this is, indeed, one of my passions in life. “Service Above Self” is the Rotary International’s motto and this is truly a way of life. There is no greater feeling than the one we get through serving others! I was president of the club during the 2011-2012 year and was proud to have the club charter hang in the doctor’s office here at WVH during that time. I was equally proud to have the club charter hanging over Dr. Keith Rode’s desk during 2016-2017 when he was club president. The club is very active both in our community and on an international level and we are proud to have two of our doctors at WVH in the club to share in our community service efforts toward a better humanity!
My husband Rich and I moved to Woodland after graduating from UC Davis. Rich works as the supervisor of the Imaging Department at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. We enjoy golfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and traveling. With the fast pace so many of us lead, it is important to take time to relax, visit new places, and spend time with family and friends. My career at Woodland Veterinary Hospital has been a vital part of my growth as a person and a doctor over the past several years. I am proud to be a part of this team and strive to give back as much as I get from working with the wonderful people at our hospital.
Dr. Leslie Holeman
DVM, Associate Veterinarian
I grew up in a small, semi-rural town near Fresno, CA with a variety of pets (hamsters, rats, fish, frogs, birds, cats, and dogs). Like many young girls, I dreamed of being a veterinarian because I loved animals, loved science, and wanted to save every lost or injured creature that came my way.
In college at UC Santa Cruz, my focus turned to molecular biology, and I spent years after college working in the biotechnology field.
As an adult, I still love animals, but that alone isn’t what made me revisit that dream of being a veterinarian. Believe it or not, I became a veterinarian because I wanted to work with people. I love getting to know clients and their pets, and sharing my knowledge to help people keep their pets happy and healthy.
My goal with every patient visit is to empower you (the client) with the knowledge you need to make the best decisions for your pet and your family. I appreciate the variety of being a general practitioner, where a typical day can bring new puppy/kitten exams, medical and surgical cases, preventative care, emergencies, and more.
After coming to this area for vet school at UC Davis, I liked it here so much that I decided to stay and raise my family here as well. Over a decade later, I’m still in Davis with my husband, two sons, two cats, and three chickens. Our family is in constant debate about whether or not we should add a puppy to our crew!
When I’m not working, I’m spending time with my family, volunteering at my kids’ school, biking around town, and enjoying our community. I love music, books, and the outdoors.
I’m happy to be working with everyone at Woodland Veterinary Hospital, especially you and your pets!
Dr. Natalia Pau
DVM, Associate Veterinarian
Since high school, I have loved Biology. Everything that I looked at I would think about molecularly, and realize how amazing everything was: from grass’s ability to photosynthesize to birds’ ability to fly, and how impressive functions that seem so simple to us, like digesting food, were so complex and amazing at the same time.
Since then, I decided to study something related to biology. The love for animals was always there, but vet schools came afterward. I wanted to study Biotechnology Engineering, and one of my goals was to work with genes to keep puppies always as puppies (with their puppy smell and everything!). Life took me to a different path, and I ended up in vet school and loved everything about it! Also, what a better way to see puppies all the time!
Dr. Jill Mikovich-Haight
DVM, Associate Veterinarian
Unlike many of my veterinary colleagues, I didn’t start out wanting to be a veterinarian. I’ve loved animals my whole life, but being a vet didn’t occur to me until I was in college at UC Davis in the late nineties. I got a job working at a feline research colony on campus the summer after my second year and I fell in love with the cats (I considered myself a total dog person until the summer of 1996) and with drawing blood, giving medications, and learning about all of the diseases that the veterinarians were studying. When I decided to apply to vet school, all of my friends said, “Well of course you should do that! We’ve always thought you should be a vet!” To which I said, “Why didn’t you tell me??”
What I didn’t know about being a veterinarian on that fateful day in the fall of 1996 (when I realized what I wanted to do with my life) was how much I would end up working with people on a day to day basis, and how important my relationships with my clients would become. I believe in a team approach to patient care and want my clients to be as comfortable as possible with every step in the diagnostic and treatment process. I want them to understand what is going on, no matter how complicated. I love it when I see the lightbulb of understanding go on in peoples’ eyes when I’m explaining something. My favorite areas of veterinary medicine are dermatology, internal medicine, and feline medicine, but I also love preventive care! There’s nothing better than finishing up a puppy’s series of DHLPP vaccines and knowing that they are protected from some of the most horrible diseases
I started working at Woodland Vet Hospital in the summer of 2019, and am so happy to be part of the WVH family – a place that has been a part of the community I’ve lived in since vet school, but have never really been a part of since until now. When I’m not at the clinic living and breathing veterinary medicine, I’m at home with my husband, Jacob, and our collection of animals. We have two dogs: Dudley, a long-haired dachshund; and Piper, a golden retriever. We also have four cats: Sabrina, who we call The Kitten because when we adopted her eleven years ago she was the youngest of the bunch by far; Scarlett, a feisty tortoiseshell; Jasper, a handsome and talkative Bengal; and Cleo, a fluffy brown tabby. When I’m not working or at home playing with the “children,” I love to hike, read, shop, spend time with friends and family, and go to the movies.