Astoria Characters: The Pet Doctor With 2 Dogs and 6 Cats

The felines Farrah and Ferris are sunning themselves on the front counter at Modern Vet Care, while Wesley, the perky Pomeranian, is peeking curiously out of a gated examination room.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Emily’s the veterinarian at Modern Vet Care.

When Emily Ehmann, the veterinarian, walks in the front door, Farrah, the black and white cat, and Ferris, the light-brown purring machine, leap from their perch to her feet, curling themselves around her legs.

Modern Vet Care is new – it opened at the end of August, replacing the 21st Avenue Animal Clinic – but Emily is an old hand at pet health care.

A calm, collected soft-spoken woman who is adored by her patients, Emily traces her passion for animals to her childhood in suburban Mendahm, New Jersey.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Modern Vet Care is at 21-27 21st Ave.

“I always knew I was going to be a vet,” she says, putting Wesley on the table so she can listen to his heart.

For the first several years of Emily’s life, her family was, sadly for her, pet-less.

It wasn’t that her parents didn’t like animals, it was simply that nobody had ever seriously thought about getting a dog or a cat.

Until Emily proposed the idea.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Farrah and Ferris man the front counter.

It was while she was in elementary school that Emily asked her parents for a canine companion, a request she made after attending a class assembly that featured guide dogs.

“I begged for one,” she says and smiles. “My parents originally said no because they require a lot of care.”

But Emily persisted, insisting that training dogs for The Seeing Eye program would be a worthy way to give back to the community (and, of course, for her to have a puppy).

As it happened, the family trained guide dogs for several years.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Emily worked ER at Blue Pearl.

Sometimes, to Emily’s immense delight, they adopted the ones that were deemed unfit for professional placement.

“We always had a lot of dogs around,” she says, adding that it was really difficult to part with the trainees.

Emily got her first taste of veterinary practice while she was in college at Rutgers University.


Astoria Characters: The Veterinarian Who Lives With 2 Dogs and 6 Cats #astoria #nyc #queens #veterinarian #cat #dog #kitten #puppy #fyp #foryou #foryoupage

♬ original sound – Nruhling

“I worked with a vet, cleaning the kennels and walking the dogs,” she says. “After a few years, I became a vet nurse.”

After graduating from the veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania, Emily interned at Blue Pearl in Manhattan, where she eventually got a full-time job working in the emergency room.

She and her wife, Ashley Alvarez, who was a nurse at Blue Pearl, where they met, decided to open their own practice and set about seeking their own space.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Emily with Wesley.

For the last three years, they’ve lived in Astoria, where they share a one-bedroom apartment with 3-year-old Wesley, a 9-year-old Pit Bull called Andi and several cats.

Several? How many is several?

 “A lot,” Emily says, a hint of embarrassment in her voice.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Emily grew up in New Jersey.

At lot? (This could be really interesting – what if she has 20 or 30 cats?)

Well, …

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Ferris putting on his mad-cat face.

She hesitates and finally fesses up.


She starts counting them off, just to make sure she didn’t forget any of them: Hector, Val, Cuppie (that’s short for Buttercup), Francis, Farrah (yes, that’s the same name as the black-and-white house cat that came with the practice) and Essie.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Emily has lived in Astoria for three years.

Emily finds it exciting to meet all the cats and dogs (and, of course, their human friends) in the Ditmars neighborhood.

“I love helping animals, because I love the end result,” she says. “It’s always nice to know that Fluffy is doing so much better or that I’ve solved a medical mystery that will help a pet live a longer and healthy life and that will give the owner more time with them.”

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Emily examines Wesley.

A black French bulldog, on his way to an examination room, trots by.

Emily, stethoscope in hand, goes in to meet him.

Copyright 2022 by Nancy A. Ruhling