Much more than puppy love


Laura Stiefel And Steve Shipley

February 27, 2000|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Steve Shipley proposed to Laura Stiefel at the Baltimore Zoo. Though that might not sound very romantic, it was the perfect setting for Steve and Laura, practicing veterinarians who fell in love while they were in vet school.

Steve, who grew up in Winfield in Carroll County, and Laura, who hails from Kensington in Montgomery County, met in August 1993 when they started veterinary classes at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va.

At first, their friendship was based on their shared situation as displaced Marylanders. But by late October, Steve and Laura were dating.

Steve, who worked for a veterinarian in high school, enrolled at Virginia Tech as an undergraduate. His plan was to earn a scientific degree, but when he considered his options, he realized "veterinary medicine seemed like the only thing I could do for 20 or 30 years and it would still seem interesting."

Laura had always loved animals, especially her two cats, Bookie and Mussy. When she was a child, friends and family members said she should become a vet, but she never seriously considered the career advice. "I didn't think I could handle the blood," she recalls.

So she enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, College Park as a psychology major. But after she landed a part-time job at an animal hospital, she switched majors and realized what her career path would be.

At Tech, Steve and Laura attended classes together during the day and then spent their evenings studying. In the fall of 1994, they entered into their first commitment as a couple when Steve adopted a puppy.

"I helped raise Amber," Laura says like a proud mom. The golden retriever mix is among the couple's pets, which include Teddy, a border collie mix, as well as Laura's 13-year-old cats.

In the spring of 1997, with graduation approaching, Steve and Laura interviewed for full-time veterinary positions. And in May, the newly graduated veterinarians moved back to Maryland to start their careers.

The next year they began discussing marriage. In July 1998, Steve took a job with an emergency veterinary clinic in Timonium, where he still works. Last May, the couple bought their first home. And last summer, Laura joined a small practice in Carroll County.

Steve, 27, and Laura, 30, were married Feb. 5 at the Baltimore Hilton and Towers. The ceremony combined elements of each of their religious beliefs (Laura is Jewish and Steve is Christian).

As the ceremony began, Steve's mother, Nancy, and Laura's grandmother Frances Stiefel lighted candles using the flame from a candle lighted in memory of Steve and Laura's relatives who have died. Steve and Laura used those candles to light their unity candle representing their new union.

Steve's brother David was the best man. Among the 140 guests were Laura's dad, Doug Stiefel, her grandfather Ira Stiefel and Steve's dad, Tom Shipley.

After honeymooning in Hawaii, Steve and Laura are back to their veterinarian practices and their pets. The couple say they try not to let the subject of animals dominate their conversations and their lives.

That would make it "too easy," Laura says.

"But on the other hand," she adds, "it's good to have another opinion you trust."

Pub Date: 02/27/00

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.