Vital Signs- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Joshua Louis Lachowicz
Pursuing Dual Passions profile by Carla Craft, Communications Intern http://www.vetmed.vt.edu/ While it’s commonly accepted that you should focus your talents and interests on one specific career path, who says you can’t choose two? A 2002 alumnus of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine has found the perfect way to blend his passion for animals with his passion for music.
Born and raised in Roanoke, Va., Dr. Joshua Louis Lachowicz grew up in the country, where his love for animals and a desire to care for them began at a young age. Around the same time, he learned to play the piano and started singing and writing his own songs. “I always kind of knew I wanted to be a veterinarian,” said Lachowicz. “I just loved animals, and l loved the science behind things.”
Lachowicz is the youngest of five in a family of Hokies. His father and each of his four siblings attended Virginia Tech. When it was his turn to apply to colleges, there was no question about where he wanted to go: Virginia Tech.
As a freshman studying biology, Lachowicz volunteered at the veterinary college. On one occasion, he witnessed the birth of a calf. That experience opened his eyes and helped him choose his career as a veterinarian.
“In that moment, it was like life started for me,” said Lachowicz. “I was already 98 percent sure I wanted to be a veterinarian, but that was the extra push I needed. It sealed the deal.”
After receiving his undergraduate degree, Lachowicz started working on his doctor of veterinary medicine degree at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. At that time, the college did not have an oncology service, but it did offer some classes in oncology. During his time in the classes, he became intrigued by the field, and decided to pursue it after graduation.
“Oncology was and still is a new and developing field, which is what made it quite fascinating to me,” said Lachowicz.
He graduated from the veterinary college and then left his home state of Virginia for an internship on Long Island. After completing his internship, he pursued an oncology residency in Connecticut. He practiced oncology in New Jersey, but since 2010, he has been practicing with Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in New York City.
Lachowicz got hooked on oncology during his time at the veterinary hospital, and he hasn’t been able to stop. He loves his work, and it brings him joy to be able to help animals and their owners through tough times.
“Oncology is generally seen as this dark and depressing field, but I see quite the opposite,” said Lachowicz. “Getting the diagnosis of cancer is depressing of course, but helping the animal is uplifting. You’re giving them a better quality of life and you’re buying them time. That makes it worth it.” While Lachowicz loves oncology and working with animals, his other pursuit is music. During his years at Virginia Tech, he performed at Open Mic nights at Champs Sportsbar & Café in downtown Blacksburg. Because people had a hard time spelling and pronouncing his last name, he started performing under the stage name of Joshua Louis.
In 2011, Lachowicz turned his love of animals and performing into the Joshua Louis Animal Cancer Foundation (JLACF). The foundation helps animals in need with the necessary funds for cancer treatments. Lachowicz writes songs based on his experiences with animals and his work in oncology, and then performs and sells his music through the foundation. All of the proceeds from his performances and music sales go to JLACF. The foundation has only been around for a short while, but it has already helped several animals get the treatments they so desperately needed.
Some of his animal-inspired songs are “Puppy Up,” “My Special Friend,” “Bipolar (A Celebration of Cats),” and “Lick Me if You Love Me.” On a more “human” note, Lachowicz wrote a song entitled “The Other Side of Me.” He wrote this song about himself to express how a person can have many interests and do more than just one thing in their lives, yet still be the same person. His music can be found through his website and through iTunes.
According to Lachowicz, his songs are not just ways for the foundation to raise money. All of his songs have a message for the listeners, an important lesson to be learned or a story to be told. His story, of course, is that he has a deep love for animals and caring for them. He takes pride in the fact that his foundation and music not only serve to help animals, but also the people who love those animals.
“You have to love helping animals, and you have to love helping their humans who are attached to them,” said Lachowicz. Sometimes, people have a difficult time deciding just what it is they want to do in life. They often have more than one interest and those interests are at polar ends of the spectrum. Lachowicz has proven that you don’t have to stick with just one thing. You can do what you love and not have to sacrifice.
The Virginia native loves making music, and he loves helping animals and their people, and he doesn’t plan on stopping either anytime soon.