4 years ago I started working at the Clayton Park Veterinary Hospital. To this day I tell everyone I “lucked” into this job. I was an undergraduate student looking for meaningful work; something other than retail sales to fill my time. I have loved animals my whole life, like everyone in this field, and was overwhelmed when I was offered this position. I was looking for part-time work for the summer. What I found was my dream job.
I was very nervous my first day of work. Anyone who works in a medical industry knows there is no room for errors, and I take that responsibility very seriously. What I encountered was a supportive team of veterinarians, technicians, and veterinary assistants willing to look over my work when I was unsure, and giving me compliments when I went above and beyond. I became comfortable working in the fast paced clinic environment and, before I knew it, I had graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree.
At this point, my friends, co-workers, and family were all suggesting I become a veterinarian. I laughed at all of them. Sure I worked alongside vets every day, but they were exceptional individuals! Picturing myself as a doctor was comical to me, so I ignored their suggestions. I loved working at the clinic full time but felt compelled to use the degree I had worked so hard to get in my career. So I invested time into career counselling to see if there was anywhere else I wanted to go in life. Both the counsellor and the standardized testing advised that I become a Veterinarian. I still thought it was a silly suggestion.
It was not until the following August I considered the idea seriously. I was blessed with two gorgeous SPCA rescues: Bounty and Mina. This is Mina’s story. Mina was a cuddly, black and white, feline who was more dog than a cat. She fetched, spoke, and gave me unwavering love and attention. I woke up one day to catch her urinating on the floor. I scolded her and cleaned it up. When it happened a second time, I took her to the Vet. I now know inappropriate urination is one of the most serious symptoms for cats. At the vet, she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
She died 24 hours later.
Needless to say, I was devastated. I left the clinic wondering what signs I missed; where I failed her. I replayed every moment of the last few months in my head, looking for symptoms I might have overlooked, thinking of how I could have done better. This is part of the grieving process; something every pet owner goes through when their pet passes on. The grief lasted a long time, however, the morning after she passed away I emailed the Vet College at UPEI and asked what I needed to do to become a veterinarian.
Fast forward 2 years, and I am still working at my dream job. I will be leaving it in a month to start classes for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program in PEI. It was a long road, but thanks to my supportive friends, family and most of all Mina, I got here. She taught me what being a Veterinarian is truly about. It is about the quality of life. It is helping others make the most of the time they have with their pets, whether that is two decades or one year. I am still sad I had only one year with Miss Mina, but I would not trade that one year for anything in the world.