by Len Lear
If you see a lovely 50-year-old blonde woman with a t-shirt bearing the message “Re-elect Lincoln” walking down Germantown Avenue pushing a baby buggy, you may be tempted to peek in and see the cute baby. However, you may be surprised to see that the baby is furry, has four legs, may even occasionally bark and is not an infant or toddler at all but is almost nine years old.
The proud “mom” is Dr. Mindy Cohan, a Lafayette Hill resident for the past 15 years and a veterinarian who has been working one day a week at Mt. Airy Animal Hospital since last December. “Having a dog in a baby buggy is an opening to have people start talking to you,” said Mindy, which quickly became apparent as we sat on a bench outside Kilian’s Hardware Store on a recent mild afternoon as dog lovers and people walking dogs invariably stopped to smile and chat. (Mindy rescued Jem in 2009 after he had apparently been hit by a car and had a dislocated hip.)
Cohan, who grew up in Flourtown and attended Springfield Township High School, went to college at Penn State’s main campus and then spent four arduous years at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, one of the country’s best. “I have always loved animals,” said Mindy, “and I decided at the age of 4 that I was going to be a veterinarian.
“The funny thing is that my mom is not an animal lover. I cannot believe we share DNA. She says they found me on the doorstep. A lady who cleaned our house gave me a dog when I was a child, but my mom gave it back to the SPCA later. I’m still not over it … Jem (the baby buggy passenger) sleeps snuggled up against me. There is nothing like it. Warmth and sweetness next to me.”
Mindy is also a history buff who made some history of her own. In 2004 she had a marriage ceremony at Valley Green Inn with Lauren Rosenberg, now also 50, who had gone to Penn State, like Mindy, after Upper Dublin High School. Lauren is now an M.D. at a family practice in Roxborough.
Mindy and Lauren met in 1984 during a high school summer trip to national parks and then met again in 1992 during Lauren’s last year at Jefferson Medical School and Mindy’s last year at Penn Vet School. (Although they both went to Penn State at the same time, they did not know that each other was there.)
Although they had a marriage ceremony in 2004, same-sex marriage was not legal in Pennsylvania at the time. So as soon as it became legal in Pennsylvania on May 20, 2014, Mindy and Lauren went to the county courthouse in Norristown as soon as it opened at 8:30 a.m., where Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes issued them a marriage license. They may have been the first gay couple in the state to receive official approval to marry legally.
They honeymooned in East Africa — the Serengeti Plains, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara (Tanzania) and the Masai Mara Natural Reserve (Kenya) — because of the profusion of wildlife at those natural wonders. This year they went back for two weeks to the Masai Mara National Reserve, Rwanda to track gorillas, Nairobi and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, and they hope to go back again. On the first trip, Mindy took 9,000 photos, and during this year’s two weeks in Africa, she took 13,000 photos as well as video. (These are not typos.)
One of Mindy’s favorite practices in Africa this year was to put biscuits in her mouth and allow giraffes to remove them with their own mouths. “Giraffes have very rough tongues,” she said. “I had so many sores in my mouth I had to use hydrocortisone cream. Giraffes were my favorite part, feeding them and getting kissed by them. I had tears in my eyes saying goodbye to Edd, who was so sweet. He has never kissed anyone as much as me. I also put lettuce leaves in my mouth to feed giraffes at the Elmwood Zoo (in Norristown), although they tell you not to do it.”
After vet school, Mindy completed a one-year internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York and then in a private vet office in Wilmington for seven years. Then she moved up here to be with Lauren and worked for five years at the Springfield Delco Animal Hospital. She also had a radio show, “Pet Sounds with Dr. Mindy” on WXPN answering call-in questions about animal care, from 1995 to 2006 but then started it up again in the spring of 2016. It can be heard on the last Thursday of each month, 7 and 8 p.m. You can also go on the website, kidscorner.org, and listen to any of Mindy’s shows from the past year. Mindy has also been a guest veterinarian on WHYY radio and on the local NBC television show, “10!” And she has also been writing for the PetMD online magazine for two years.
Mindy has a passion for Civil War history that may be equal to her passion for animals. Ten years ago she visited the Shiloh battlefield in Tennessee. “I knew nothing about the Civil War before that,” she said, “but now I am obsessed. In April I dragged Lauren to a Civil War battlefield. I went to a Civil War Weekend in Springfield (Illinois), and they loved me because I asked a zillion questions. I’ve been there twice.
“I have a DVR set for anything involving the Civil War. I listen to Civil War podcasts. I eat and sleep Civil War. I take classes in it at Manor College, where I am the youngest one in the class by 20 years, and I watch C-Span lectures on the Civil War. Maybe someday I will give talks myself about the Civil War.” (Since last spring Mindy has also been a park ambassador at Valley Forge National Park three or four times a month, where she walks the trails with Jem, gives directions and answers questions.)
Mindy has also loved Broadway since she was a child. “It may be genetic,” she said. “My mom took me to see West Side Story with Leslie Uggams when I was a kid, and I was hooked. She’d take me out of school, and we would go up to New York for matinees. ‘Ragtime’ and ‘A Chorus Line’ are my two favorite shows. I am also obsessed with ‘The Civil War, the Musical.’ I never saw it on Broadway (too short of a run), but I have seen some excellent productions at local theaters. I could talk about animals, Broadway and the Civil War all day!”
For more information, visit http://kidscorner.org.