Richard' Dr. Rick' Stobaeus: It is an incredibly beautiful place
By Andrea Louis
A passion for practising veterinary medicine, a desire to live on a tropical island, and unexpected family ties have led Rick Stobaeus, DVM, fondly known as Dr Rick, to relocate to Dominica, the land he calls home.
Dr Rick, born in New Jersey, USA, spent portions of his life in Massachusetts, Germany, and the Southern USA. From a young age, he wanted to be a veterinarian, initially bringing him to Dominica in the 80s.
"I heard Ross University was opening a veterinary school in Dominica for one year, 1982 to 1983. However, the school did not work out due to administrative differences, so I packed up and returned to the States," he said.
Dominica made quite the impression on that first trip, which led Dr Rick to continue visiting for several years before moving here.
"Although I was only here for a few days, my first impression was it was a magical place to live. So, I was loving it immediately," Dr Stobaeus said. I met a lot of people because of my penchant for animals. I became close friends with J. Collin McIntyre, and a few years later, he joined me at Tuskegee University, College of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama."
Furthermore, on this trip to Dominica, Dr Rick realized he had a familial connection to the country.
"You know how your grandparents tell you things, and sometimes you don't listen?" he chuckled. "One day, I was visiting Daniel Green and identified a man in a photograph as Theodore Green. Daniel said, 'That's my uncle' I said, 'That's my grandfather's uncle,' and he said, 'Welcome to the family,'."
Dr. Rick moved to Dominica a decade ago and told The Sun that was always his intention. "That was the plan when I came 41 years ago; I would raise my children in the States and then come back. The impression is it is an incredibly beautiful place. I knew that with family ties here, it would be really easy because I was never treated as a foreigner."
For the country that welcomed him with open arms, Dr. Rick says there was no culture shock when he finally moved to Dominica.
"Do you know why?" he queried, "Because in the south, the culture is very similar. From south Alabama to Louisiana, the closer you get to Creole, also the slower pace of life can be experienced there."
In his years of visiting and then living in Dominica, Dr. Rick describes events here not as changes but as more of the same.
"People who are educated or have jobs tend to leave the country," he said. "I think the government tried opening the doors for more Haitians, but that hasn't worked out in the best way. We need to have more chemical control for the sake of agriculture. And, unfortunately, the only way to help young people stay here and do business is to have things heavily subsidized because to live here, you need to have three sources of income."
Popular for his house and farm calls, Dr. Rick continues to give back to his community and country.
"I help government veterinarians, and I help out at McIntyre's. I'm involved with the Belles Development Committee to tackle some much-needed projects in the area. We are rearing goats to help boost the stock on the island, and I am encouraging growth in apiculture and lemon trees," he said
His love for veterinary medicine and ties with Tuskegee University have led him to play an instrumental role in arranging a preceptorship programme with Tuskegee University for veterinary students.
This experienced veterinarian and nature lover is an avid advocate for children being introduced to agriculture from a young age.
"What I want to see is more programmes through agriculture and foresty where children are taken to the farm and put their hands in the dirt or water to learn about farming," he said.
Dr. Rick remains content with his choice to live in Dominica and is committed to empowering the youth and helping out wherever his field of expertise is required.