It's been said that good things come in small packages.

That's the idea that Dr. Sherif Lawendy had in mind when he decided to open Darien's newest animal hospital at 168 Noroton Ave.

Lawendy has been owner of Park Animal Hospital in Norwalk since 1997, and many of his patients were already traveling from Darien and New Canaan to come to his office. Since there was only one animal hospital in town for residents to choose from, he saw an opportunity.

"We found we were losing clients because they had to travel so far to get to us," he said. "I believe convenience is an important aspect of pet health -- owner compliance can often hinge on that. If it's convenient, it's more likely they will do what's right for their pet."

Lawendy's saw his opportunity to open in Darien about two years ago when Darien Animal Hospital and Darien Veterinary Hospital combined to form the only animal hospital in town. He wanted to be able to offer a choice to Darien residents.

Lawendy found a small building on Noroton Avenue that was about half the size of his 4,000-square-foot facility in Norwalk. He preferred location over size, and decided to make the most of the space.

Construction began in April and after renovations and a two-story addition was put on, the new Park Animal Hospital opened three weeks ago. The first floor of the hospital houses the reception area, which is warm and inviting with earth tones of green and brown. Patients can sit on comfortable couches and watch television while they are waiting.

The second floor houses state-of-the-art rooms for X-ray equipment, offices, a surgical suite, dental exam room and a grooming area for pets. The new hospital will offer full medical and dental services for pets, as well as grooming and kenneling options as well. Between the two hospitals, Park Animal Hospital has three veterinarians, two groomers, four receptionists and three veterinary technicians.

"For a small space, it packs a good punch," Lawendy said. "To provide big service, you don't need a big place."

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the new animal hospital is that Lawendy and his team literally spared no expense in investing in top computer equipment to cut down on costs and staffing needs, and at the same time making the building as energy efficient as possible. The building uses no oil combustible fuel -- cleaner-burning propane gas is used to heat the building and water. In addition, the X-ray equipment uses no film -- instead all X-ray images are immediately transferred to a computer desktop where physicians can access them immediately. Because of this Lawendy said it eliminates the need for costly and wasteful developing fluid and film. He says it can cut the time it takes to get X-rays completed by as much as 50 percent.

"It's quick and it means our patients are under anesthesia for much less time and you can do it with much less staff then you would think," he said.

Also, to make the grooming operation more "green" Lawendy purchased a "BathPro" system, which allows soap to be injected into the cleaning system, which decreases cleaning time and reducing waste. The blower system uses forced air from the environment with no added heating elements, to avoid overheating pets.

The new animal hospital's computer and communication systems are completely integrated with the Norwalk office so that all doctors and staff can communicate with each other immediately and access computer records.

"It makes time and makes communication much more efficient," he said.

Lawendy said he picked the spot on Noroton Avenue because of its proximity to Interstate 95 and the Noroton Heights Train Station. With 7,000 households in Darien, he estimated that about 50 percent of the town's residences have pets. Being so close to the highway and train station makes it easier, he said, for Darien's commuters to drop off their pets on the way to work and pick them up at the end of the day.

"We are designed to be family oriented," he said, adding that each day he will be scheduling fewer appointments so that the staff can spend up to 40 minutes with each client. "We are trying to maintain a small staff so when people come in they see the same people -- a small, hometown veterinary facility."

Lawendy comes from a long line of veterinarians. His father, Milad, was a veterinarian for 35 years and established Park Animal Hospital in Norwalk in 1992. Sherif was a college student at the University of Pennsylvania at that time and learned a lot of what he knew from his father.

"I got to work with him growing up, watching the wonderful things he did," he said. "There's something very satisfying about being able to help a patient who can't tell you what's going on."

Upon graduation in 1997, Lawendy took over ownership of the hospital in 1998. He currently lives in Easton with his wife and children, where he owns and takes care of show horses. He also works with the Connecticut Humane Society and will make house calls for owners of exotic pets or larger animals such as horses than cannot make the visit to the hospital.

"There's nothing more gratifying than seeing a pet bounce back from being sick and spending more time with their owners," he said.

Park Animal Hospital, located at 168 Noroton Ave., is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Saturday hours are 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact the office at 203-655-7795.