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Dr. Charlene Esch grew up on her family's rural Whitefish farm that they've enjoyed for five generations. Dr. Esch learned to do chores taking care of the cows, horses, rabbits, dogs, cats and birds. She helped her father and grandfather milk cows and put up hay, and she was active in 4-H.  

Her "big break" came in high school when her veterinarian, Doug Hammill, invited her to tag along on weekly farm-calls up to Eureka. She began working summers and holidays at Ashley Creek Animal Clinic - cleaning kennels, learning lab procedures and assisting Dr. Hammill in the treatment of animals.

Dr. Esch was able to attend Montana State University with the aid of a number of scholarships, and was accepted into the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University. She will always be grateful to her mother for her support in attending vet school by selling the timber on their land.

Dr. Esch returned to the Flathead in 1983 and purchased Ashley Creek Animal Clinic in 1986. Under her leadership the practice has continued to provide quality care for animals for over 27 years. The practice has grown to provide care for llamas and alpacas, and still makes farm calls when animals can't come into the clinic.

In 2007 Dr. Esch was invited to be featured on Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. She was impressed with how the crew strived to capture the work on only one take, and she appreciated the spontaneous humor of Mr. Rowe. Episodes can still be seen on the Discovery Channel or these links:

Dr. Esch with her horses