Tag Archives: vet tech

Don’t Sass Me! – A Note To Owners With Feisty Pets

Understand this:  Veterinary professionals have a unique “outside looking in” view on how your animal behaves while at the clinic.  Often we can see exactly what is lacking in the dynamic between you and your dog, or read your cat in order to see when they’ve had enough of us.

Having said that, we use this knowledge to help us decide on the best possible course of action to keep you, your pet, and us, safe.  Some dogs are fearful, some are dominant, some couldn’t care less.  Then there are those dogs that do things in the most unexpected of ways.  These are the dogs you don’t see coming, and the ones that veterinary professionals have to be on guard for at all times.

I commonly experience owners who become offended or even get angry when we need to restrain their animal.  What people need to understand is that no matter what, everyone’s safety is more important than your belief that Fluffy is going to be mad at you.  Many people say, “Oh, Fluffy would never bite” or “Fluffy doesn’t need a muzzle”.  Here’s a tip – if we are suggesting it, then yes, Fluffy does need what we call a “party hat”.  The picture below depicts a tech or vet holding a dog in what we call “lateral”.  We hold the down leg to prevent the dog from getting up.  He can breathe and he is not in pain, he is just laying on his side and is being stopped from getting up.  Mean? No.  Useful? Yes.

From: http://www.santarosa.edu

Maybe your pet wouldn’t normally be one to bite, but now we have taken them out of their normal environment with their familiar people and schedule, and brought them to a stress-filled place with other animals and people they don’t know.  Believe it or not, this changes things for your pet.  Their normal behaviour doesn’t apply.  By putting them in an exam room, we’ve taken the flight option away from them, and that leaves fight.  In some cases I have even watched owners who refused a muzzle get bitten by their animal and think it’s completely normal and OK.  Please understand me when I say this – your animal biting someone is NOT OK.  Our job is to keep your animal healthy, not to scar up our bodies even more than they already are.

Just over three years into practice and I already have countless scars that will likely never fade.  Some are there because we were not given permission to muzzle an animal.  As an owner, do you think it’s alright for another person to have wounds and scars just because you find it offensive to put a painless muzzle on your animal?  If your answer is yes, I suspect you may be a sociopath and you need to seek help.

Another point that I must be clear on is aimed at small breed dogs.  Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Daschunds, Shih Tzus,  and other dogs of this type.  Often owners don’t treat these guys like dogs, they more treat them like small children.  This means that they don’t always have the same grasp on basic obedience or “manners”.  This can also mean that we can have a very angry dog once we start to do things like examine ears and teeth or trim nails.  Now this dog, who is not accustomed to doing things it doesn’t want to, is being told to stand still and allow us to do what we need to do.  As you can probably guess, there is probably going to be some attempts to bite, tantrums, and some high-pitched squealing, making it sound like we’re torturing the dog.

From: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com

Here’s a newsflash to all of the owners who would be offended by us restraining your  little dog at this point – pipe down.  We are not torturing  your dog.  Fluffy has this all figured out since, at home, if he lets out that shrill scream you probably let go and Fluffy gets away scot-free.  Here at the clinic, we don’t fall for this trick and that makes Fluffy miffed.  THAT is why he’s making those sounds, not because we are hurting him.  Either teach your dog that nail trims and exams are not a bad thing at an early age, or accept the fact that we don’t want to get bitten so we’re going to throw a muzzle on your landshark.  Savvy?

From: http://i.dailymail.co.uk

Cats are a whole different ball game.  One must read the body language carefully to try to anticipate aggression.  Sometimes cats give you fair warning, sometimes they must think it hilarious to keep you guessing.  One strategy commonly used with cats is scruffing.  This seems to quiet many cats, and is a way to restrain them without causing them physical discomfort.  Many revert back to kitten behaviour and go very still.  This is not meant to make the cat in any way uncomfortable, it is merely done to make sure we have control over the bitey end.  Whether we need to give a pill, an injection, or just inspect an issue more closely, the scruff allows us to do so safely.  Pet owners should realize this is a very useful tool and in no way means we’re being mean to fluffy.

From: http://consciouscat.net

This may be shocking to you as an owner, but the vast majority of people who work on your pets for a living actually love animals.  We probably have some of our own.  Believe me, the last thing we want to do is cause your beloved animal pain.  In fact, the whole reason you brought him to us was probably to relieve it, no?  We aren’t mean, we are just trying to help without getting hurt in the process ourselves.  Cut us some slack.

If you aren’t sure how to properly prepare your pet for their future vet visits, please contact your veterinarian for information or tips on how to help make the process as smooth as possible.  There are many things you can do, like visit the clinic just to give Fluffy a treat and meet everyone, without anything invasive being done.  Helping them to associate your clinic visit with positive things like treats and affection can go a long way.  Another thing you can do is handle your puppy from a young age.  Lift the lips and earls, handle the paws, even trim little pieces off just so they get used to the sensation.  These things will only take a few minutes out of your day, but can really go a long way to making veterinary visits much easier.

From: http://www.taylorclark.co

As always, feel free to shoot me a message with any questions or comments!




Recently, in the busyness that is my life, I have come across an experience completely new to me.  It was one that I had hoped would never come to pass and that I had been dreading for months.

On Monday, September the 8th, I euthanized my family dog.  My first puppy.  My playmate as a kid and comforting presence as a teenager.  She used to make sure I was up in time for work in the morning, although I don’t think her motives were entirely pure.  I still believe that she only did it to get me out of my warm, cozy bed so that she could climb in and bask in the comfiness.


She was born sometime in November, 1997.  For a dog of her size, she was well into her geriatric years.  There were many things that influenced our decision to finally lay her to rest, but one big one was her inability to do the things she loved.  Chasing balls, chasing really anything that moved including one rabbit in particular who she never did catch…  This would leave her stiff and sore and probably regretting her brief lapse into puppy-hood.

I still vividly remember the day she came home with my dad, an early Christmas present.  His timed reveal was thrown off because just as he was lecturing us on having to be good for the next twenty years, she popped out of his jacket and surveyed her new surroundings.  Her name was Smooch, after running up to my dad and kissing him thoroughly when he went to pick her out as a puppy.

As she got older and sorer, she no longer beat me up the stairs as she always did.  I would often slow down and let her get by me as she hurried slower and slower with each passing year, just because I knew it made her day.  She always had to be in view or with her family, and scouting the upstairs first was at the top of her priority list.


I will miss the way she would do laps around the ground floor, so rambunctious in her excitement that someone had come home.  Even though she would still do this from time to time as she aged, the laps got slower and the corners eventually too tight for her to make in time without making a little bobble here and there.


The decision is so final that I had a hard time coming to terms with making it.  Even though I knew, in both my professional mind and my emotional one, that I was making the right decision, I still felt like second-guessing myself.  When my family finally came to me and inquired about the process, I knew that there was no more avoiding it.  As my first dog, I had a hard time letting go.

Now, I have grieved and I have even felt a glimmer of relief that her life will no longer be uncomfortable or painful.  She will no longer wander as if she were lost, or groan as she got up from a nap.  I will no longer lose sleep thinking about whether or not she is in pain, or lonely, or confused.  I know that she lived a happy life full of memories, loving people, snacks she wasn’t supposed to have and tennis balls.  One full of bonfires where she would herd the guests and their vehicles into their parking spaces, and mooch food from the gullible ones.  She was so good at that, and rightfully earned her nickname, “Mooch”.

While in college for veterinary technology, I came across a poem that I knew immediately would one day be the one I used to console myself following Smooch’s inevitable passing.  Let me first say that I am not one for poetry, nor have I ever been, but this was a piece that was undeniably suitable and has brought me some small consolation following this loss.  It still brings a little tear to my eye to read it.

Smooch was a good dog, the best really, and I will miss her as long as I have the capacity to feel loss.  Sometimes the most appropriate decisions are the hardest, but she did her job being an admirable, wonderful pet and I believe I owed it to her to do the right thing.

You will forever be loved and deeply missed.

Goodbye, my friend.



Dog Behaviour – Where I Stand

Lately I’ve observed many different dogs with many different owners who exhibit all variations of behaviour while at the vet clinic.  After seeing this and polling owners about the dogs’ daily routines, feeding, etc, I have found that there seems to be a pattern between dogs who aren’t regularly stimulated, exercised, and taught “manners” and dogs who get all of these things.  One side tends to exhibit more bad behaviours than the other, and I think you can guess which is which.

This has prompted me to want to learn more, to expand the small amount of knowledge I gained while in tech school and really understand more about how to help the dogs and, just as importantly, the owners.


I’ve been looking into ways to specialize through different organizations for technicians.  There aren’t as many options in Canada but hopefully there is an avenue I can explore in order to find the information I’m searching for.

There is one driving force behind this epiphany:  The desire to help these dogs as well as their owners. To be able to give sound, sensible advice to owners who are at their wits’ end as well as have that advice be backed up by training in the area of behaviour.

There are so many people that I see, mostly through the clinic but some just through random meetings, that have issues with their dogs.  Many, at least from first glance, can be attributed to things like lack of exercise or things to keep their brains busy. I don’t feel like this is fair to the dogs.

Like I’ve said before, these animals depend on you for every aspect of their health and this includes daily exercise and mental stimulation. This could include things as simple as spending some time teaching a trick, fetching a ball, or going for a nice, long/walk to learning to do agility courses or tricks with discs.


I feel strongly that dogs who are not couch potatoes require this sort of thing in order to be mentally and physically healthy. Without adequate stimulation, dogs tend to become hyperactive or destructive. They need an outlet for the energy they’re taking in, or behavioural issues can develop.

We can’t exclude physical issues when it comes to the combination of lack of exercise and overeating.  Obesity is rampant among the pet population.  This page has some insight on the statistics regarding pets in America.

Many people will pass on their bad eating habits to their dogs, resulting in a huge number of overweight and obese pets. I can’t stress enough the toll that this takes on a dog’s body. They can develop diabetes later in life, just like we can, and I am sure that injecting your dog with insulin every day isn’t really your idea of a good time. Joint disease is also exacerbated by extra weight putting excess stress on those joints. Many larger breed dogs are already prone to this, but every extra pound goes a long way to crippling them later in life.


According to the CVMA, obesity can also put your dog at risk for things like Gastrointestinal problems, increased cancer rate, reduced liver function, high blood pressure, and impaired hormone release.  See more here.  If you aren’t sure how to help keep your pet at a healthy weight, need ideas for stimulation, or if you aren’t sure if you’re doing the right things, your vet is a great resource for information to keep you informed.

If your dog is one who gives you trouble at home or you can’t seem to get them to lose weight, there are ways to help and your vet can help you with that. Also keep in mind, and I can’t stress this enough, that plenty of exercise and play time can go an incredibly long way in helping with many behavioural issues.

It is never a bad idea to do baseline blood work to screen your dog for early signs of different diseases, or just have a visit to make sure you are doing what you can to make your dog’s life as happy and healthy as possible. After all, many dogs are a part of the family and they deserve to live happy, comfortable lives. The only person with the power to give that to them is you.

Feature photo from http://www.petattack.com

Keeping a Positive Attitude When the Day Gets “Veterinary Clinic” Rough

From: http://www.catwisdom101.com

There are days at the vet clinic that never seem to end. You’re missing veins, nobody is cooperating for their exams, owners are being difficult or non-compliant and euthanasias are abundant. How does one keep a positive attitude and bring a smile to each and every client when faced with a day like this? Here are a few ways that seem to work for me:

1. Make light of any situation
I am one of those people who uses humour, or attempts at humour, in any situation that makes me uncomfortable, sad, angry, frustrated. You name it, and I’m trying to be funny. This not only makes my coworkers laugh (sometimes), but laughing and/or smiling allows me to release some of that emotion and to make an otherwise terrible situation seem a little more bearable.

For example, we had euthanized a very large dog that day and had some trouble getting it in the freezer because there were things in there that didn’t need to be. Once I had solved the problem of getting that stuff out and the big dog in, I sent out a clinic-wide email asking people to please remove what they could from the freezer because I wasn’t really into playing “Jenga” in there for long periods of time. It made a few people chuckle after an otherwise crazy day and if I can help to boost morale with cheesy things, then I am gonna lay it on.

2. Allowing someone to “let it out”

The first eleven seconds of this video is what plays in my head all the time.

Every single time I read or hear the words “let it out”, I am reminded of the above scene voiced by the late Robin Williams. It makes me smile a little inside, but I also do this in the literal sense. Whether they need to cry, vent, or they just can’t bear to be present in another euthanasia that day, I like to be that person who listens or fills in whenever needed and I know that my teammates would do the same for me.  Think of your coworkers like you’re all part of the Amigos.

I think voicing your frustrations can be a very good strategy for getting through the day with your sanity intact.  There are certain people I work with who know that when I need to vent, it’s not that I am mad at them or I am being too negative.  They know that I just need to voice my opinion or voice my frustrations and then it’s over and I feel better.  Then I can continue on with my day.  Often you can’t voice what you really think in an appointment because staying professional and courteous is so crucial, so being able to do so can help with getting rid of some frustration.

3. Cut yourself some slack

From: http://redsight890.blogspot.ca/


Yes, I get it. You’ve done this job for “x “years and you are more than capable of hitting that vein, or powering through that tough appointment. The sooner someone realizes that perfection is an impossible goal, the sooner they will be less hard on themselves when they’re having a bad day.

Even being as relatively new as I am, I know that there are going to be days when I’m not at my best. Those days are getting fewer and further apart, and that is what I strive for. You’re going to make mistakes, but as long as you make each one a “teachable moment”, you’re on your way to becoming an even better technician (or whatever your title may be).

Being perfect one hundred percent of the time isn’t going to happen because the industry is constantly going to evolve and change.  You can either learn and adapt, or get left behind thinking you’ve seen it all.  Chances are, you haven’t.  Even some of the technicians I respect the most, who really have “seen it all” know that there is always more to be learned, and staying humble really goes a long way.

4. Give yourself a minute

Sometimes you just need a sec.  Take a few minutes to allow your brain to rest, to recharge, and to deal with the craziness.  I realize that there are some days where time is short and there doesn’t seem to be enough of it to go around.

From: http://www.workingnurse.com

I think it is incredibly important to at least have a few moments where you can just sit and release some of that tension.  I recently did some CE on compassion fatigue which I felt was really useful.  Since we are in a field which requires a compassionate and empathetic person, sometimes this can put some strain on us mentally. I intend to write further on the topic, not as an expert by any stretch of the imagination but just put out the information I have gathered so far and possibly inject some of my own experiences in.

Just think, you could have to work with people.

From: http://www.media-cache-cd0.pinimg.com

Don’t get discouraged.  Just know that at the end of the day, you really are doing all you can and you are making a difference in the lives of your patients.  Any client or employer with sense will know that you are only human, and that you deserve respect for the work that you do.

If all else fails, I watch cat videos until I feel better.  This one, for example, had me laughing until I cried.


As always, feel free to leave me a comment.  Any positive feedback or constructive criticism to become a better blogger or a better tech would be great!

Common Pet Myths: Busted – Part 2

One can probably write as many parts on this as there are parts to the Fast and Furious movies, but I think it’s time to touch on a few more.

1. The term “neuter” applies only to male animals.

This is a fairly harmless one in my eyes but nevertheless it is misused by both professionals and clients. By definition, it can apply to the sterilization of both males and females but often it is only used to describe the castration of male animals, while we use the term “spay” for females. Or “spaded” as some folk who are one sandwich short of a picnic call it.  Often I am tempted to reply, “No, we don’t take them out back and beat them with shovels” but I fear it would be lost on some and slightly unprofessional.

2. Cats urinate on things because they’re mad at you.

This idea infuriates me a little bit, even though I can understand why it may be a valid theory to some. Often cats will urinate inappropriately due to stressors like something significant changing in their daily routine. New people, new things, new pets – these can all contribute. Cats can also be prone to stress cystitis, which essentially means a stressed cat with an angry bladder which makes the cat’s life very uncomfortable in the urinary department and yours very frustrating when you find wee little bits of urine around the house.

Please cut the cats some slack. Sometimes the issue of stress can be solved as easily as cleaning the litter box more often, adding another, or changing the style (ie lid vs no lid). Obviously you aren’t going to remove your new crying, screaming, attention-hogging little human from the home, but hopefully your cat will eventually come to realize that life can still go on with the addition of a baby to the family dynamic. Stay strong, there are ways to work around this and avenues that may help.

3. It can be “normal” for your cat or dog (usually cats) to vomit on a regular basis.

Do YOU feel nauseated and/or vomit on a regular basis if you are healthy?  Would YOU think this is normal if it happened to you? What makes you think that vomiting every day is normal for your cat, then?  Yes, they do it all the time.  No, this does not mean it is “normal”, it means it is “frequent” and that sucks for your cat.  I don’t think you would enjoy it, and I bet your cat doesn’t either.  There are myriad reasons why your cat may throw up.  Excessive grooming, stress, kidney disease, liver disease, toxicity, plus many other things. I think it is worth a trip to your vet to see if one of these issues is happening and perhaps you’ll be able to halt something serious before it progresses.

4.  Lastly, but certainly not least,  is one that I have become quite passionate about this year especially with a local epidemic of parvo virus – VACCINATIONS.

I am quite passionate about my pro-vaccine stance and it’s Monday, so I have absolutely no patience for unfounded claims and other such silliness. Let me start by describing to you what a day in the life of a dog with CPV (canine parvo virus) is like.  They’re put in isolation due to the fact that CPV is incredibly contagious, they vomit and defecate bloody, liquid material which has a smell like a mixture of skunk, digested blood, and death.  Too often they die from dehydration or lack of nutrition.

The disease causes the villi of the intestine to become disabled, making it impossible for the dog to absorb any kind of nutrients.  It’s important to note that there is no cure, so just like a human cold, only supportive treatments are available to help the body fight off the virus and stay hydrated.  Antibiotics and fluids will do their part, but the animal’s immune system must fight it off in order for the pet to recover.  What’s particularly heartbreaking is that this disease targets primarily puppies, whose immune systems aren’t always quite developed enough to fight this disease properly.

This can be prevented as easily as a needle under the skin.  A vaccine.  Lately there are many people trying to tell us that vaccines are bad, they’re just moneymakers, they cause autism, etc.  Let me ask you this – when is the last time you saw an autistic dog? Right. Give it a rest.  CPV is a serious, deadly disease that can live in almost any environment (anywhere) for five months (see: http://ow.ly/Acrnn). Many disinfectants aren’t enough to kill CPV except bleach, therefore it is very difficult to get rid of.  Dogs pick it up by ingesting the virus from the environment, like where an infected dog has defecated.  Then they quite literally defecate and puke their life away.  Parvo poop is a smell you won’t soon forget.

I will stick to vaccines in pets because that is where most of my knowledge lies, but I am slowly learning about the human side of it.  From what I have read and what I can tell, preventing fatal disease epidemics will outweigh most other risks in my eyes.  When did Hollywood attention-seekers become a better source for scientific information than actual science?  Oh, and since when did a disability like autism become worse than death?

From: http://www.scienceblogs.com (Couldn’t help myself)

Vaccinating your pet regularly can help prevent disease not only in your one pet, but any pet that yours comes in contact with.  It doesn’t take much for a disease to spread, but if your pet is vaccinated that is one less that will carry it and pass it on.  Sometimes people will say to me, “We haven’t seen “x” disease in years, why are we still vaccinating for it?”.  The answer is simple.  We don’t see it because we vaccinate for it.  It still lives in the wildlife population, so if you were to stop vaccinating it would become a problem all over again.

I’ve seen this type of person many times.  It is when their pet dies from a preventable disease that all of a sudden the proverbial light bulb flashes on and they’re right in to get their next pet vaccinated.  It’s a shame that it often happens this way, but it is the reality of it.  Clinics in Ontario see multiple cases every year (don’t worry, I’ve asked many people in the veterinary field in Ontario).  Currently Cornwall, Ontario is in the midst of an outbreak. There are larger clinics in the US that have seen 5, 10, and in some clinics even upwards of 50 cases this year alone. It’s out there, and it is very real. Please get your puppy vaccinated.

Here is the CTV news video: http://ow.ly/AcDLZ

From: http://www.modularhomecoach.com/

I plan to write more extensively on vaccines at another time, once I have gathered more hard evidence to show you.  If there is a particular vaccine or disease you’d like me to touch on, by all means leave me a comment or send me an email with the form at the bottom of the page.

If you don’t mind, perhaps you can help me gauge the opinion of people reading this blog:

Here is a link with more information as well: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/lab-bio/res/psds-ftss/parvovirus-eng.php




My Journey for Charity to Northern Ontario: Day 7

Day 7

This was a day of travelling with little to report about the communities since we are now off of the reserve area. We awoke at the motel in Pickle Lake to climb into the motor home and begin our journey to Thunder Bay.


Our adoptees are adapting well to travel, with nobody getting carsick yet. The pups seem to sleep through most of it and practice their howling for the rest. The older dogs just sleep, taking their new surroundings in stride very well.

Leashes are a new concept for them, so pee breaks are a bit of a mess because they aren’t quite sure what it is they’re supposed to do. Luckily they seem to catch on that they weren’t supposed to go in the RV.

Now that we’re on the final leg of our journey, the drive from Pickle Lake to Thunder Bay, there’s a lot of time for reflection and absorption of all of the information and experience gained throughout the trip.

It changed the way I look at doing at anesthesia and made me more confident in it. Without the comforts of the usual anesthesia protocol at my usual clinic, I had to adapt and quickly. I found that the more comfortable I felt with it out here, the easier it will be at home.

It gave me a new perspective on the way we live and the way these First Nations people choose to live. I now realize how much change is needed to get these communities where they need to be mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I can only hope that what Friends of Animush have accomplished over the past two weeks have helped the people and the animals live healthier better lives.  Maybe one day we’ll get there, but for now we will just keep plugging on.

The Friends of Animush is doing a great thing by helping those dogs who can’t help themselves, who just try to live as best they can with the little they’re given. They don’t deserve to get caught in the crossfire of human dysfunction.

It’s right back to business as usual now that I am back at home, working my locum job at Woodbine Racetrack on Sunday morning. No time for rest but I can feel like I used my vacation time for something productive and worthwhile.  What an eye-opening experience, and one I’ll not soon forget.


If you have any comments or questions about how you can help the Friends of Animush on future trips, or if you have space in your home to help foster one of our rescued dogs, please send a message in the form below.

My Journey for Charity to Northern Ontario: Day 6

Day 6

I know day six is a bit late but by the time we did surgery, packed up all the gear, got it to the airport, packed it all in the motorhome and got it to the motel, it was all I could do to stay conscious. So you get it today.

Our last morning in Cat Lake started with breakfast over a fire in a little smoke hut lent to us by a community member. There’s something delicious about things cooked over a fire.

Surprisingly our first patient arrived before we were done with breakfast so a few of us rushed over to our makeshift clinic and began preparing for the day’s surgeries. There’s actually quite a bit that goes into getting ready.

Oxygen and anesthetic machines need to be turned on, primed, and filled with anesthetic. Medications need to be located, set out, and made up for each animal. Gauzes, instruments, ET tubes, prep solutions for cleaning the skin, and myriad other things need to be set out and organized.

We had a relatively short list of surgeries, leaving us enough time to pack all of the totes, boxes, and kennels in order to leave. The dogs here in Cat Lake behaved remarkably well for their procedures despite never having met us. They all seemed to crave the attention.

In addition to the four puppies from Round Lake, we removed three dogs from Cat Lake. One is a large Malamute cross who’d been tied up for the entirety of his life due to the lack of socialization with other dogs and subsequent aggression issues. With people, he is incredibly loving and surely with proper training could become great with other dogs.

The second is a three month old yellow lab cross pup with ears too big for his head and a love for cuddling. His owner had many children and could not afford to feed him, so he was surrendered to us.

The third is one that I especially liked. It’s hard to say what she is crossed with but whatever the combination may be, she is very cute and surprisingly sweet despite the way she was treated. She was not owned by anyone in particular in the community, and was regularly teased and abused by passing children. If only I could take this one home but my present circumstances will not allow it.

All three canines need loving forever homes, and with their personalities I hope it won’t take long before they are settled in.

I can’t express the sense of relief I feel to know that none of these dogs will continue living the lives that they were and can go on living like pets instead of “pests”. I feel deeply for the dogs that we had to leave behind.

There were far too many people wanting to send dogs out of the community. What really gets me is the number of people who want more pups or continue to bring dogs into the community, only to neglect or attempt to send them out once they’re no longer cute little fluffy things. The lack of regard for the lives of these animals is utterly disgusting. They’re almost disposable to many of them and only seem to serve as brief distractions from the tedium of life in Cat Lake. From kids instigating fights within the pack of dogs to outright abuse, these animals are made into targets for all kinds of nasty behaviour.

Parenting needs to be stepped up and the kids given the necessary tools to learn the difference between right and wrong but also become accountable for their misbehaviour. Even in the short time we stayed we saw all kinds of mischief including graffiti, albeit horridly spelled graffiti, appearing one morning on the building across from our little dwelling. Some samples of their artwork include “bitches and holes” and “once a snitch allways a snitch”. It would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic.

All in all, with two teams over two weeks in three communities we accomplished over one hundred sixty spay and neuter surgeries plus that many and more vaccinations. If even one third of those were spays, with an average of six pups per litter, we potentially prevented over six hundred unwanted dogs from life in these communities.

It’s not to say that there aren’t people who care about their dogs but there just isn’t the capacity, financial means, or access to medical care in these areas to properly care for the dogs.

Even if the trip was stressful, frustrating, and at times maddeningly tiring, it feels great to know that we made an impact and perhaps even contributed to the advancement of animal welfare in the communities of Fort Hope, Round Lake, and Cat Lake. While the problem is far from solved, hopefully we can continue toward our goal and make it better with each passing year.


If you have any comments or questions about how you can help Friends of Animush on future trips or by fostering one of our rescued dogs, please feel free to contact me with the form below or search for “Cat Lake Friends of Animush” on Facebook.


My Journey for Charity to Northern Ontario: Day 5

Day 5

Today felt like the longest one yet. Starting at 9 am, we managed to spay/neuter 20-ish animals, vaccinate those and more, and also tell many gawking little children to stop leaning on the wall we made to keep all the strays out. Every five minutes, honestly that wall was coming down. I was ready to punt someone.

I feel like this community is not as into us being here as the previous one. People are less willing to bring us their animals and pick them up. One guy told us to just to let the dog loose and it will find it’s way home. Not with all those sedatives, he won’t.

Despite the lack of people showing up, it was nice to know that we really did make a difference for those dogs and cats that we did manage to see. Now to educate people, and get them to be less excited and willing to get rid of theirs dogs just so they can have a puppy again. This seems to be a big obsession here, and it contributes greatly to the population problem.

After a hard day’s work, around 6, we finally closed up shop for the day and got a couple hours to do our own thing. We swam in the lake, which I have to say was a bit nipply. Then as we began the trek back to our base, we admired all of the beautifully scenic, horribly spelled graffiti all over the place. With lines like “bitches and holes” and “once a snitch allways a snitch”, how can one not be swept away in the romance of it all? No, that wasn’t a typo, the morons actually spelled it like that.

We rendezvoused with our police officer friends again and they took us for another crack at finding the bear at the dump. We were pleasantly surprised to stumble upon two bears! For being such great sports about touring us around in their squad-trucks, we fed them again. Perhaps it was nice for them to get to have some friendly company up here for a change, and we certainly enjoyed theirs.

The four pups that we took charge of in Round Lake seem to be taking everything in stride, but the singing at three in the morning has lost it’s cuteness already. Why is it that almost everything a puppy does is hilariously adorable?

Tomorrow we finish up a few last surgeries, if they show up, and then it’s once again time to pack everything up and carry on in the direction of home. I really just hate packing. Our trip home will be slightly different than our trip up. We will be flying the short trip to Pickle Lake, staying overnight, then driving from there to Thunder Bay where we’ll catch a flight back home to TO.

That drive should be a hoot. One motor home, nine people, three dogs, four puppies, personal stuff, and a ton of equipment. I am not sure how this will all go down but I am thinking that it’s gonna be a long one, especially if those pups continue to howl. Singing me the song of their people is cute for a video-op but after a while you’re ready to tell them to put a sock in it.

I really have enjoyed this experience insofar as I have achieved my goal of coming here to feel like I am making use of my skills to benefit someone/something in need. That we have done and I love the feeling. I would do this again and I have a funny feeling that I will.






My Journey for Charity in Northern Ontario: Day 4

Day 4

Cat Lake is a different world yet again from that of Round Lake. The people willing to have us do surgeries are fewer, and seem to have a bit of a different attitude toward their dogs.

Animal abuse seems to be rampant here, whereas I didn’t hear much about it in Round Lake. I saw a dog with burn wounds, and heard about cats being sprayed with spray paint. To experience this first-hand is utterly nauseating. To know that these kids are doing this, whether it be out of boredom or stupidity, is heartbreaking to say the least and if I ever find the ones responsible, I may end up in jail.

It adds another reason as to why I’m here and why we take dogs out of this community. They run the risk of being mistreated on a daily basis and that is NOT alright. Education, education, education. And consequences.

Apart from all of that we had a very successful day of surgeries and vaccinations. The animals were all very well-behaved, which made our jobs that much smoother and there were people who were very helpful and really wanted the dogs to be neutered.

We had one kid, Antonio, who actually helps to rescue dogs out here and we allowed him to hang out with us and learn about what we do. Maybe if he learns that he can take his education as far as he wants, he can have a career in this field which he obviously adores.

Swimming was supposed to happen after a hard day’s work at the clinic, but instead we attended an “Elder’s tea” where we got to meet the elders of the band and also meet the two police officers in charge of Cat Lake.

This turned into a few hours of bonding with the officers, where we got a tour of the dump from the back of the cruiser, looking for bears. Listening to the two people in the front do a Yogi Bear impression over the loudspeaker had everyone crying tears of laughter. We never did meet the fluff-ball, but we had a great time nonetheless. I admire the work the officers do out here, what with putting up with rampant vandalism, drunks, and domestic violence. Usually, there is only one officer here to look after the 600 residents. I don’t know about you, but I might be a little wary if I were in their shoes.

Our team is really starting to have a great sense of camaraderie now that we are getting a bit worn out and have had a chance to spend a lot of time together. This really is a great team of animal lovers just out to work as hard as they can for these dogs.

We will hopefully have another full day of surgeries on the schedule for tomorrow, but it can be hit or miss at times. Either people forget, or they just can’t be bothered to bring their dog for their free spay/neuter, vaccine, and parasite control.

Also, one of these times we will hopefully be able to A) swim, but more importantly B) go fishing. I doubt the latter, as recreation isn’t what we are here to do. I’m sure we will find a spare hour to go for a refreshing dip in the pristine lake while we’re here. How I would love to fish up here though…






IF you have any comments or questions about how you can help the Friends of Animush, please feel free to contact me with the form below.

My Journey for Charity in Northern Ontario: Day 3

Day 3

My pillow and I have missed eachother dearly in recent days, but luckily this evening we’ve been given a little respite with internet access to boot!

Now I get to continue writing to you lovely people who take the time to read my blog. There is too much material and too little energy to get it all down, but I will try my best!


Today started with an early morning in the little house loaned to us. A very quick shower and off we went to finish up the rest of the surgeries. Not all of the dogs were big fans of ours but we got them neutered, spayed, vaccinated and dewormed anyway. Nine or so surgeries later, there were still many people we tried to squeeze in but had to draw the line due to have to catch our next flight. With many promises to return next year, we began the daunting task of packing all of our gear and people into one little Cessna Caravan. Somehow we managed with not an inch to spare.


A couple hours and a few exasperated moments and we were boarding our little plane. Our awesome pilot, Nick, even let me ride shotgun! (As long ad I didn’t press any buttons) Queue the five year old me asking all kinds of stupid questions. He was thankful for the company and I was elated to be able to see the flight from this perspective. He did a great job with all of it, even our teammates who are sensitive to flying got through the ride with no upchucking incidents.

The surroundings in Cat Lake look very similar to those of Round Lake, with many of the tiny homes in some manner of disrepair. We were pleasantly surprised by a few members of the community who drove out to meet us at the “airport” and shuttled everything to our new digs. Lovely first impression of the citizens.


We’ve settled in and are taking advantage of the opportunity to rest, shower, and get back in contact with the outside world.

We already have our first set of critters who are coming home with us. There are four little husky-cross pups who are about four weeks old. Hopefully two of them are spoken for, but foster and adoptive homes are still very much needed. Feel free to contact me or the Facebook page if you have any questions or if you can help us look after some dogs!

PS… Bugs. Everywhere. That is all.



If you’d like to leave a comment or ask a question about how you can help the Friends of Animush, please feel free to drop me an email!