For the love of Hank

Pet owner honors Rottweiler through endowed scholarship at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at OSU


John Vonhof, Ph.D. is an avid lover of four-footed creatures, but especially Rottweiler dogs. The Hank Vonhof Memorial Foundation Endowed Scholarship is a memorial to such a beloved creature. Hank was a “Rottie” in a long line of beloved pets who have enjoyed the love and care of “Dr. John.” The endowed scholarship, once completed, will support veterinarians to treat the animals he loves so much. The scholarship is especially targeted to students interested in defeating kidney disease or cancer, which robs so many pet owners of their companion animals.

John Vonhof

John Vonhof and Hank

Dr. John’s story begins in Ohio in the home of his grandmother where he spent much of his childhood. His uncles introduced him to the agrarian lifestyle on the ranch, which included riding horses and life out-of-doors. Owning a ranch in the Midwest became a dream of his, but California called him away from Ohio in his 20s. He travelled west to try his hand at acting school. Dr. John learned quickly that soap opera dreams are for the few and the lucky. Undaunted, he found his professional path by pursuing multiple degrees in business. He studied organizational behavior and management; marketing and entrepreneurship and earned a specialization in accounting and finance.

In California, he worked for the aircraft industry. Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas employment led to opportunities in Oklahoma at Boeing. The original dream of owning a ranch in the Midwest proved to be possible with the acceptance of a teleworker position with Boeing. The horse and cattle ranch in Wanette, Oklahoma became home to him and to his horses, dogs and one barn cat named Hunter.

Life with beloved rescue dogs Zack, Quila, Hansel, and soon-to-be-adopted Hank reveals that Dr. John is still a kid at heart riding horses and romping and playing with his dogs as ageless friends. There are no spectators when one has a 160-acre ranch called home.

As his dogs and Hunter passed on to disease and, in Hunter’s case, to the fatal bite of a pygmy rattlesnake, Dr. John remained with Hank, after whom his scholarship is named.

“Hank was a special and true companion. He was a gentle soul. I lost my father to kidney disease, and my beloved Hank. The scholarship honors them both.”John Vonhof, Ph.D., scholarship donor

Vonhof decided to build an endowed scholarship so that students wishing to become veterinarians can complete their studies and give the kind of care that Hank and all his animals received at the OSU Veterinary Medical Hospital. He admired the compassion of the staff.

John Vonhof

“OSU Vet Med has forever touched my life,” he says. “I loved the banquet where I met my first scholarship recipient, Emma Rupert, who shared her life story of always wanting to be a veterinarian.”

The Hank Vonhof Memorial Foundation Scholarship honors the great dogs in our lives who give us so much love and companionship that we mourn their passing.

“Hank never met anyone he didn’t like. It is my firm belief that dogs can pick their owners and their canine companions,” Vonhof says. “I remember that when the handler brought Hank to meet us at the PAWS agency, Hank dragged the handler down the hallway. Quila and Hank touched noses, and then both looked at me with those soft brown eyes that said to take us home.”

That attachment to Hank, though gone now from kidney disease, has not lessened.

Today, John still works for Boeing as a project management specialist in system engineering and cyber security. He enjoys his rural lifestyle at the ranch. Dr. John has adopted yet another Rottweiler. He named her Sirena.

Do you have a passion for supporting students in Veterinary Medicine? Click here to contribute to the Hank Vonhof Memorial Foundation Endowed Scholarship.