Why I Do What I Do

Submitted by Erin Hendrickson, RVT & Technical Service Representative for Royal Canin Veterinary Division Canada

Erin Hendrickson is on the left and Breanne Barber (current SAVT President Elect) is on the right. Photo taken at the 2019 SAVT Conference by Karen Laventure, RVT

If any of you wonderful techs out there watch as much TedTalks as I do, you’re probably very familiar with Simon Sinek. One of his educational videos changed my perspective and made me want to start telling the world why I do what I do. His video is called “Start with Why” and I encourage you to watch it.

What he teaches in this lecture is that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. In this case, I don’t mean “buy” as in monetary purchasing, I mean people don’t TRUST you unless they know WHY you do what you do. So here is my why.

It all started in 2000 when I got my very first pet. I was never allowed a pet growing up. Nobody in my family likes animals so they couldn’t believe that I LOVE all animals. So as soon as I was living on my own I got a cat. Schmookie was the love of my life. My best friend on Earth and I wanted to learn how to make him live as long as felinely possible. In 2000, I was working at the front desk of the Radisson Hotel in Saskatoon and didn’t know anything about animals. When he was neutered, the woman who handed him back to me was wearing a lab coat and had a stethoscope around her neck. I said, “Thank you, doctor”. And she scoffed and said, “I’m not a doctor! I’m a vet tech!” I had no idea what that was so she explained to me that she was an animal nurse. Well, oh my word, I was gobsmacked. What an amazing profession! Everyone should be a vet tech! But I wasn’t ready yet to go to school so I logged it in my memory bank for the future.

Meanwhile, Schmookie is growing up. I had no idea what to feed him or how much. I admit, I fed him something that I bought at Wal-Mart and every time I filled his dish I felt like the food that I was giving him looked like plastic, looked fake, full of food coloring, and was probably not very good for him. One day, I went to my veterinarian and told her my concerns. She gave me about four different cans of food to go home and try. He hated all of them. So I went to PetLand in Confed and bought a plethora of canned food to try of all kinds and brands. He hated those too. Back to the vet, and this time it was a different vet who said “Every time I have a cat that won’t eat, I give it Royal Canin Sensitivity CR” (Which doesn’t even exist anymore that’s how long ago this was). So I took some home and he devoured it.

Schmookie was on Sensitivity for quite a long time and then I discovered the Dental diet (which was a lot more cost effective than feeding only canned food!) which he also LOVED so he stayed on that for years. He became this regal, silky, beautiful creature when before, he was a scraggly greasy looking thing. I thought, “What is IN this food?!?!”

I started researching Royal Canin and found that there was a rep in Saskatchewan so I gave her a call to ask her. Her job sounded so amazing, getting to educate the veterinary community about proper pet nutrition? How do I sign up?! She told me that I should go to school and become a vet tech. !!!!! That file in the back of my memory opened and I remembered that woman with the lab coat and stethoscope and immediately went to SIAST to enroll!

After I graduated from what is now the Sask Polytechnic Veterinary Technology program, I was 28 years old and ready to represent this amazing company so I called that rep again and told her basically, “Ok, I’m a tech now, now what?” Her instructions were to get some experience, work as a tech for at least ten years and then apply. TEN YEARS?? I’d be 38?! That’s ancient! So I decided to cut it in half by working at the WCVM in ICU and Emerg for five years and then reassess.

Exactly five years later, I found out that the rep had been promoted and was moving to Guelph, Ontario to work at the Royal Canin head office. I immediately applied. BUT WAIT? My best friend at the time also applied. I was so hurt, I didn’t talk to her for weeks. The day of the interviews was upon me and right when I was leaving my apartment, she pulled in to my parking lot. She had her interview before me so she must have just got out of it and came straight to my place. Looking like a million dollars, she got out of her car and walked over to me. I was so mad at her for a) looking better than I did, and B) for taking the interview, that it took me a minute to notice that she was crying! Of course I asked her why she was crying and she said, and I kid you not this actually happened:

“I need to tell you what I did in that interview before you go. When I got there, I shook the interviewers’ hands and told them that I’m not here to be interviewed. I only applied because I wanted to have an opportunity to talk to you about why my best friend should have this job.”

She sat in that interview for a half an hour telling them all about ME and why I should be hired to represent Royal Canin.

Now that’s a best friend. 

And that, my fellow animal lovers, is why I do what I do. I LOVE animals. I have learned how medicine and nutrition when married together in synergy can make our pets live longer, happier, and healthier. Which is why I chose to represent Royal Canin specifically as the core of our belief structure at Royal Canin is to make the world a better place for pets.

In May, I will have been your rep for 9 years and every day I wake up grateful to be able to work with you all and do what I do!

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