Things I Wish I Knew When I Was New

Submitted by Marta Van Camp, RVT, Member-at-Large SAVT Board of Directors

As a first time member on the SAVT Board of Directors, I have been tasked with submitting a blog post.  I was excited at this prospect to share what I can, and had plenty of topics that I thought of to write about.  However, given the current state of affairs I would like to focus this post to our student population (though I think there is knowledge to be gained for some of our more seasoned members as well).

A bit about me – I’ve been working in the the Veterinary field for over ten years now. I’ve worked predominantly in small animal practices ranging from small general practice clinics to large specialty hospitals, with the odd dabble in lab work, and exotics.  This experience has been acquired throughout Canada and the U.S., and I only recently moved to Saskatoon in late 2017.

I currently work at the WCVM as an RVT in the B.J. Hughes Centre for Clinical Learning.

In this role I’ve had the pleasure of getting to work with the recently, and soon to be graduating Saskatchewan Polytechnic students, and I can’t tell you how rewarding, and encouraging that has been.  The passion and drive you all have is infectious, and has been an important reminder to me of how proud I am to be an RVT.  I wanted to take this opportunity to return the favor, and present to you some things I wish I knew when I was a new to the field.

Documents – Keep all of your paperwork in one specific place.  You never know where life will take you, and having all of the necessary documents required for registering in different provinces and states is vital.  It is also important when renewals come around.  Having to scrounge for every CE document you’ve acquired the night before renewals are due is never fun (I know – I’ve done it).  Luckily for us, the SAVT website allows us to scan and upload our CE as we accrue them (most places I’ve worked has you snail mail the documents in), but do always keep a paper copy as well for your records.

Registration – Every association differs slightly in their requirements, and sometimes the language is confusing.  Though having your VTNE test results, and school transcripts are generally required across the board, they might not be the only information you’ll need.  When in doubt, reach out to the association, as they are usually happy to help you navigate their procedures.

Well rounded job experience – There are so many job opportunities for RVT’s these days, and you’ve all seen the plethora of paths that one can choose to take in a budding career.  That being said, I find there is great value in putting in time at a general practice clinic when you’re fresh out of school.  This will allow you to hone your core skills while your education is still fresh.  Connecting the dots between the theoretical and practical will give you a solid base that you will be able to pull from no matter where your career takes you.

Find your team – I have moved a lot over the past ten years, and have worked in a variety of different positions and establishments.  I think the most important thing I’ve learned is finding a workplace environment that works for you.  We are generally a very passionate bunch, but passion doesn’t always equal positive.  Burnout is a real concern in this field, and often team members that are experiencing symptoms of that can devolve a whole workplace into a toxic work environment.  They come in many forms, could involve all levels of the Veterinary team, and are, unfortunately, more prevalent than you may realize.  I could probably write a whole blog just on this subject, but here is a link to a great one by Jade Velasquez, LVT

The “Cole’s notes” I would take from this is that what you tolerate is a choice, so you should choose wisely.  One of the best things about being an RVT is that we are always in demand.  This should empower you, as you can always find work elsewhere.  Don’t let one bad work environment color your career, the right fit for you is out there, you just need to find it.

Boundaries – I touched earlier on the prevalence of burnout, and we’ve all read the articles on the alarming rates of suicide in the Veterinary profession – not exactly inspiring, I know.  The reality is the more we talk about it the more change can happen.  It took me a while to realize that part of my own struggle with compassion fatigue is that I always want to help.  I think the majority of us can agree that’s generally what we all want to do; we want to help our patients, our clients, and each other, but that drive often comes at the expense of not helping ourselves.  It’s hard when you’re first entering the field to feel like you’re entitled to have a voice or an opinion, but you do, so use it – in a respectful and professional way, of course.  It may take some time, but learning your capabilities, and also how to say no when things get to be too much, is an important skill to learn for your own mental health.  That being said, don’t let your inexperience keep you from pushing yourselves, and striving to be the best that you can be, just know that there is a balance to be found, which will allow for a healthy and long career.

Associations (SAVT) – Your association is here to help!  Though this is my first experience as a member of a Board of Directors, I have quickly learned that this is an often untapped resource for new and soon to be members.  Think about it, it is a group of RVTs from all different backgrounds, with all different levels of experience in all different areas. They volunteer their time to help better the lives of RVTs everywhere, and that includes you.  The SAVT has student representatives that speak on behalf of you at all board meetings, as well as a committee devoted specifically to student networking.  From my experience we are an open source who would be happy to help our newest members in any way we can.  We represent you, our constituents, so reach out – or better yet, get involved, and be the change that you want to see.

Finally to the graduating class of 2020 – I’m sure you’re sick of hearing that these are “unprecedented times we live in” as reasoning for the challenges you have faced, and will be facing this year.  Believe me when I say, I do not envy the position that you are in. 

However, as the saying goes, “this too shall pass”, and if you continue having the drive and resolve you’ve shown us this far, you will come out the other end of this stronger and better RVTs. And let’s face it – isn’t that what we need?

Pictured is Marta and Nellie at the Sutherland off leash area last Christmas. Good girl Nellie!

The Family Zoo

Submitted by Teresa Nahachewsky, RVT, Member-at-Large SAVT Board of Directors

Hello Friends!

Are you tired of your dog looking at you with those big puppy eyes, begging for attention? Does your cat lay on all the things that you try to work on? Is your bird doing … bird things? Do your kids randomly switch personalities between heavenly angels and the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes? 

Yeah. Life is crazy right now. Or it always was, but you could find easier ways to escape it before we had the civic duty to protect our neighbours as ourselves from this invisible enemy. The question is: what can we do to channel the energy in our homes? Well, my dear readers, the answer is simple. If your home is a zoo, do what zoos do! Develop better Environmental Enrichment protocols!

Environmental Enrichment can be broken down into 5 main areas:

  1. Sensory: smell, sight, taste, touch, and sound. This is like putting on the bird channel for your cat
  2. Environmental: specific needs of the animal like climbing, perching, nesting areas, etc. like making a blanket fort
  3. Foraging/Feeding: most commonly thought of, like using chop sticks for people who aren’t used to them
  4. Occupational: Habits regarding action, like chewing a stick, grooming, using task oriented devices. These are often used together with the foraging/feeding strategies, like using a treat ball for a dog’s meal
  5. Play: Using non-food related toys and opportunities to learn and interact and have fun with! Like playdough! 

According to the Toronto Zoo (as well as many other educational sources on animal and human enrichment), “It was a positive effect on our animals by allowing them to interact with one another in a very natural way. It also stimulates their minds and provides them with physical and mental exercise.” Which sounds like a great way to say, “It keeps them busy and out of trouble for the most part.” 

Is that what you need in your household this week? Here are some suggestions on how to keep your Home Zoo happy and healthy! For simplicity’s sake, I’ve sorted my suggestions into the 5 areas by a common Home Zoo build of Dog, Cat, Child (elementary school age), and Adult.


  • Dog: Go for a walk specifically for smelling (your dog walks you). Or lay treat/kibble trails through your house to practice nose work (kids can help with this one!)
  • Cat: Strap a broom head to the edge of a cat post as a new rubbing feature. Enhance their attraction to it with cat nip!
  • Child: “What’s in the box” game – put different objects in a box and have your kid stick their hand in to guess what it is!
  • Adult: Listen to a new podcast about Greek mythology, watch a TedTalk on lake fishing, or read up on the benefits of drinking tea.


  • Dog: Create a safe zone for your dog using a kennel, or “dog specific area” where no one is allowed to bother the dog. Practice with your kids to read dog body language to know when the dog might need some alone time. Family Paws Parent Education is a great resource for becoming a Dog Aware Family!
  • Cat: Make sure there are adequate “get away” spots up high for your cat to look around and hide from the over-abundant children that are now in their area. Try having at least one perch set up in the 2-3 rooms your cat spends the most time in.
  • Child: Let your kids get creative! It’s what they do best! Make a list with them of 5 things they want to do, whether it’s build a boat, colour a picture, make a cave, and then use your imagination (and theirs) to make it happen! For example, the boat can be made of paper and put to the test in the bathtub.
  • Adult: Cleanliness is next to Godliness. It also reduces stress and anxiety when things are in a good place for you! The trick is to make it simple and rewarding for yourself. Watch some Marie Kondo on Netflix, pick a room, and do something to it that you know will spark joy!


  • Dog: Have a yard? Scatter the kibble in the grass (or snow) and let your dog find their meal! Make a stuffed kong with peanut butter or soft food and freeze it! My dog personally loves ice cubes, so I just make sure I have a steady supply of those handy. Free and easy!
  • Cat: Have a spare shoe mat lying around? One with rubber fingers or ridges meant to catch dirt? Smear some wet food (soaked kibble works well too!) into the mat and let your kitty lick their meal away! It’s like a snuffle mat that you didn’t have to make or spend tons on. Bonus for it being easy to clean!
  • Child: Finger food painting. Meals of finger food, and then let your kids make whatever kind of landscape or funny faces they want! On their plate, of course. Also easily done at snack time with fruits and veggies and dips.
  • Adult: One word: Mealime. It’s a meal-prep app that gives you the option to put all the ingredients in a grocery list that can then be edited from anyone in your household, even while you’re at the store! My family has never been disappointed by the recipes yet. Best thing about it? It’s free!


  • Dog: This can be something specific to the kind of dog you have. If your dog is a digger, make a “dig safe” spot for them. If they are a herder, teach them to round up their toys in the living room. If they aren’t as active a dog, get them something to chew on while they lay in bed. Whole frozen carrots can be a tasty treat if you can’t get a chew toy at the moment!
  • Cat: What do cats do? Hunt. Even the fattest, laziest cat will go after a shoelace dangling in front of them. Don’t have time to play with your cat? Make it a game for your kids that they don’t get a snack until they’ve played with the cat for 5 minutes. This will satisfy the instinct to hunt multiple times a day for your feline friend!
  • Child: School work fits in here. If you struggle with keeping everything else in the household functioning on top of school, this is a great time to use a video chat app to get the grandparents or other family members involved! You can even take turns with other parents during the week to help with homework!
  • Adult: Whether you have a job at this time or not, be kind to yourself. Things have changed and will continue to do so. Set yourself 1 or 2 goals a day to accomplish. If that’s as simple as getting everybody to brush their teeth today? Fantastic! If it’s something like do an inventory of the freezer? Great! If it’s to go for a 20-minute walk by yourself? Wonderful! Life will always be hectic. Take the time to enjoy it too.


  • Dog: Let your dog do their thing, or have even more fun and start shaping new behaviours! Play games like 101 Things to Do With A Box. Here is a video of Dr. Sophia Yin training her pup using shaping (no words or cues, just trial and error!) to put her feet in a box. The best part is you can use shaping techniques on ALL SPECIES! Make it a game with both your cat and your kids too! Try get them to figure out an action you want performed with just a positive marker. 
  • Cat: Cats already know what they want to do with a box, so let them play! Bonus if you use a crumpled-up paper ball to chase!
  • Child: Get outside! Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t physically leave your house. Go for a bike ride, strap on roller skates, roll in the grass (or snow, depending on the situation), go camping in the yard or in the house, the possibilities are endless. The only goal is the smile and laugh!
  • Adult: Set up a chat with your neighbour across the street. Sit on your lawn while they sit on theirs and have a beer together. Live farther away from people? Use your favourite video chat app to just hang out with a group of friends! Get on Steam and play board games together virtually! Need some alone time away from kids? Ask the grandparents to follow this example for some safe interactions!

When all is said and done, no one knows your Zoo like you. Adapt and change with patience and kindness. Wash your hands. Come together by staying separate. We can get through this! You got this, Friends! 

Your supporter from afar,
Teresa Nahachewsky, RVT

Never Stop Learning

Submitted by:

Jolene Watson, RVT, Professional Speaker & Trainer
President, Clarity Coaching & Development

“You can’t change your personality type, but you can ALWAYS change your behaviors”. This quote has absolutely changed my life and my veterinary career trajectory.

I currently have the absolute privilege of teaching my ‘Veterinary Client Relations’ course annually at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. After graduating (20 years ago) I was asked to speak to a group of students; this sparked my initial interest in public speaking which eventually led me to become an entrepreneur, personality expert, speaker, trainer and Certified Business Coach across Canada.  I am also currently in the process of getting certified in Positive Psychology, Body Language, Neurolinguistic Programming & Emotional Intelligence (just for fun).

Jolene and Sask Polytech Students

My ongoing passion for learning and getting out of my comfort zone has truly been an asset in my life! My fondest memories include being the head RVT at the Cat Hospital of Saskatoon, giving my first keynote speech at the 2013 SAVT conference and my first job which was petting cats for the Animal Care Unit (true story).

My students continually inspire me with their brilliant ideas and desire for growth! Part of the course I designed focuses on career choices; it is so important to realize that we have dozens of options after graduation in a variety of niches (we brainstorm a lot in my classes).

NAVTA offers so many opportunities.

What area of expertise do you want to be certified in?

  • Behavior
  • Nursing
  • Anesthesia
  • Dentistry
  • Zoological Medicine
  • Emergency & Critical Care (for more academies)

What career options have you researched?

  • Radiology
  • Exotics
  • Management
  • Grooming
  • Feedlots
  • Teaching

If you are truly passionate about professional development & continual learning, you will find your purpose and thrive in this fabulous industry!

Be Passionately Authentic; Embrace your Vision – Jolene


You can find Jolene and Clarity Coaching & Development on

Facebook Link:



RVTs in Saskatchewan: What Can’t We Do

Submitted by Marlayna Morgan, SAVT Secretary

We’ve all been there, we’re out with some friends, or we’ve gone home for Thanksgiving, or you meet someone new. It’s a question that we probably get asked all the time. “What do you do?” Well, we can compare ourselves to our human medicine counterparts, or we can try to explain what we do on a daily basis. However, I’ve found that the best way to explain my career is to tell them what I can’t do. 

I recently made a poster for VIP day at the WCVM outlining this very conversation. I think this is a great way to show how much value an RVT can add to their clinic. This means that the doctors can focus on their main duties, RVTs can generate their own income in a clinic, and we get to do more of what we love! The 3rd and 4th year classes of the WCVM were very receptive to this idea and seemed eager to get into practice with us. 

So, what can’t an RVT in Saskatchewan do?

An RVT cannot diagnose, but we CAN: 

  • Provide counsel for clients
  • Measure patient progress
  • Create treatment plans
  • Run diagnostic tests 
  • Position for and capture radiographs
  • Retrieve samples and prepare for export

An RVT cannot prescribe, but we CAN:

  • Fill prescriptions
  • Calculate appropriate doses
  • Apply medications
  • Educate clients on side effects
  • Order medications for inventory
  • Audit control-drug logs

An RVT cannot perform surgery, but we CAN:

  • Perform anesthesia and monitor
  • Assist
  • Prepare and position patient for surgery
  • Explain presurgical requirements
  • Counsel clients about aftercare
  • Take biopsies 
  • Retrieve urine by cystocentesis
  • Suture minor lacerations

What else can we do?

  • Dentistry – including extractions*
  • Apply or change bandages and dressings 
  • Discuss and plan nutritional requirements 
  • Do laboratory work
  • Triage
  • Insert and maintain urinary catheters
  • Take FNA’s
  • Properly restrain animals
  • Give injections
  • Perform a complete oral exam
  • Behavioural counsel
  • Neuter cats*
  • Anything our veterinarian tells us to!

* Under the direction and supervision of a Veterinarian

So the next time you’re at a family gathering and uncle Bob asks you (for the hundredth time I’m sure) “what is it that you do again?” You can reply “Well uncle Bob, it’d be a lot quicker to list the things I don’t do!”  

When in doubt.. listen to the experts..

To say that these last three weeks have been a whirlwind would be an understatement.  There have been changes and updates daily and even hourly from international, national, and local resources.  There have also been the flood of emails from everyone you’ve ever given your email address to about what they are doing at this time for your protection and the protection of their employees.  It was much. 

It was an interesting time also for the me as your Executive Director trying to navigate and assist SAVT members, SAVT Board of Directors, the SVMA, and other provincial associations.  I closed the SAVT office and moved it into the apartment that I share with my partner and Congo African Grey parrot.  Our apartment is about 400 square feet and we now have an African grey, the SAVT office, my student work, my partner’s co-op position, and my partner’s school all running out of the apartment.  We had to buy TV tables as all of our other spaces now have computers on them. 

My school is a masters degree in disaster and emergency management which is where this all gets interesting.  I’ve been viewing this entire pandemic from the lens of an executive director of your association and a disaster manager and I want to share with you a thought. 

One of the greatest frustrations I’ve heard from RVTs and DVMs since I started in this position is that people don’t listen to the nutrition recommendations they are given, use Dr. Google to make their own diagnosis, and don’t listen to their post-op instructions and care when you are the professionals. You are only doing and sharing your wisdom about what is best for your patient.  Well – Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, is the professional here and listening to her makes sense and is crucial.  Whether it’s isolation, physical distancing, or when and where to seek medical assistance it’s important to listen to the professionals and respect their wisdom and knowledge. 

As you are navigating this please let me know if there is anything I or the SAVT can do to assist and we will do our very best to give you that assistance or direct you to someone who can. 

From the desk of the SAVT Executive Director, Jasmin Carlton (and by desk I mean the card table I borrowed from my aunt to make into a desk during this period of self isolation)

Projects & Programs

The SAVT is excited to share a number of different projects and programs that we are launching, piloting, and passionate about. We are worried that they are getting lost among each other as we release them so we wanted to put them all in one spot so they are easily accessible to everyone.

There is a section of the website that you can now review everything we have going on all in one spot.

Below are our current programs and projects:

Life in Practice.. not always as it would seem

Submitted by Breanne Barber, RVT, SAVT President-Elect & RVTTC Director

Recently, I was asked to give a presentation to the third year Western College of Veterinary Medicine students on life in practice. When I was first asked to give this presentation, I was not sure what to say or how I should go about getting my point across on how to utilize Registered Veterinary Technologists to their full potential and use them as part of the veterinary team. I thought I would talk about all the duties and responsibilities that an RVT can do in practice…well that list just kept getting longer and it was too much to fit on just one slide. Then, I thought about when I am in a group of my peers, colleagues or other professionals what do we talk about… we tell stories! That was it! I would tell stories on how my profession as an RVT was utilized in practice to assist the DVMs and other members of the veterinary team. 

While I was making my slideshow, I wanted to make sure that my stories would accompany pictures of the patients that I had helped treat in hospital. You never really realize how many pictures are on your phone until you start looking for specific ones… I have over 1,200! I also asked Veterinarians that I currently work with and worked with in the past to give me quotes or advice they would like to give to the students. I got a wide variety of advice and I am thankful for to all the Veterinarians I have worked with over the years that I have made lasting professional connections with. I find myself texting these Veterinarians for advice on cases, dosage recommendations or any new continuing education they have taken that may help with a case we are struggling with in clinic. I have created my very own veterinary information network just by having connections with all the amazing professionals I have connected with over the years.

I created a slideshow that was 26 slides long that ranged in a wide variety of cases where an RVT was utilized to their fullest potential in practice. There were slides for the tough cases, interesting cases, the fly by the seat of your pants cases, the sad cases, teamwork cases, etc. As an RVT I am the one being the eyes, ears and sometimes nose for the Veterinarian. Also, you MUST be an excellent note taker! Medical records are essential to make sure that you have all the information needed for the Veterinarian to determine a course of treatment which may change if the clinical symptoms change.

While talking with the students, I expressed to them about the importance of recognizing mental health concerns for both DVMs and RVTs and finding a work life balance. Easier said the done right! I am not the first to say we work in a profession that demands highly of us and our knowledge of veterinary medicine which is forever changing. Veterinary professionals can be dealt a different hand every second of every day depending on the situations. The veterinary team that you create in practice and the personal team you create at home must be able to assist you in specific ways both personally and professionally. Finding the perfect work life balance is never going to be easy but the most important thing that you can do for yourself is understand and recognize that if something is not working then it may be time to make a change. Change can be the scariest thing for some people and for others it does not affect them or comes naturally.

What I have learned from the changes I have made in my life in the past few years is that in the beginning it can feel like you have made the worst mistake and you have panic moments thinking that maybe it wasn’t so bad before and I can take it back. Then you wake up one day or you are at work and have this moment of relief that you did the right thing, you feel like yourself again, you are happy to be going to work, you are happy to be going home to see your partner, your friends are noticing the change and soon you begin to notice the change in yourself. The negative energy and feelings that you had weekly or daily seem to have disappeared and you want to enjoy life again both personally and professionally.

It’s okay to not be okay. There is nothing wrong with you and the people closest to you will help you get through your struggles. Your veterinary team, your family, friends and even our furry friends are key players to help you succeed in life. Life in practice can be exciting, challenging, demanding, upsetting and I mean that is just a regular Monday… We can acknowledge that times have changed and move forward, or we can stay where we are destroying ourselves and the profession from within. Change is inevitable, progress is optional, inspire and lead change for progress!


Breanne Barber, RVT

I Didn’t Think It Would Happen to Me..

Written and Submitted by Juanita Rose (Kohlman) Ivanochko, RVT

I didn’t think it would happen to me.  Watching commercials on T.V. and thinking to myself “Why would you do that?”.  I have stage 4 liver disease caused by consuming alcohol.  Did I turn yellow… yes.  Did my eyes turn yellow… yes.

This is my story as a Registered Veterinary Technologist of nearly 23 years. 

I graduated from SIAST College in Saskatoon in 1998. It feels like it was yesterday.  I was the Distinguished Graduate of my class, and all I wanted to do was enter my career as an RVT.  My mentor, Dr. Richard Krauss, hired me to be a part of his team at the Preeceville Veterinary Clinic.  We did everything together with much respect, trust and amazing communication.  I always knew what he needed and was prepared and ready.  I enjoyed the clients, patients and had very good people skills to add to the dynamics of the clinic. I still do.  I worked for 9 years at the clinic.  We worked hard, late hours, and we were very, very busy.  Dr. Krauss and I trusted each other to do what was in the best interest for the patient and client.  Dr. Krauss’ wife Ivy always treated me as her daughter, and I am so grateful for that. 

I met my husband and we were married in three months!  Yes, three months.  Land had been purchased from his parents, and we developed our own homestead.  We worked hard, clearing bush, sanding and staining a log home.  We are very blessed today due to our inspirations of having a family and ranch.  Things took a turn for the worse for me when we lost our firstborn child. I was devastated.  I think it triggered my alcoholism. I don’t think it… I know it.  My husband and I went on to have three stunning daughters. 

I was always wanting to go back to work… to be the “Old Juanita.”  I lived and breathed the clinic.  Being what I was gifted and granted, worked so hard for; an RVT.  I did, but my life was too busy.  My husband worked away in the Western Provinces.  I was alone with our children, house, cows and I developed anxiety, which I probably always had.  Alcohol helped ease the pain after work and sometimes later into the evening.  Hence, my sleep issues started.  Going from room to room with “Come sleep with me.”  The stress from my husband being away (7 weeks, 10 weeks), ranch, and wanting to be the best mother for our children and an RVT for my dedicated employer and the surrounding communities we serviced.  I was getting up in the middle of the night to shovel snow, haul wood, prepare school backpacks, and to ponder when to feed the cows next and lifting bale feeders by hand so cows would clean bales up.  It finally took its toll on me.  I became sick with throat problems, cough etc.  It was the year of our clinic inspection.  In a very short time of a few years I had damaged my sensitive body.  Alcohol brings on denial, self pity, shame and it hurts the people you love.  It has no boundaries, discrimination, and age.  It takes you away, leaving you powerless. 

I am very grateful to be a survivor of this horrific disease and will continue to deal with its effects for the rest of my days. 

I owe my life to my husband, Dr. Richard Krauss, and my dearest friends and family.  Dr. Krauss found me weak, lethargic and very ill after being in the hospital.  I should have never been left alone.  I couldn’t even make it up the steps to our entrance door.  I crawled.  My husband drove home to be with me, and I’ll never forget it.  The tears he shed.  Since then I have had my health battles, all due to what I did to my body, severe anemia, blood transfusions, rectal bleeding, severe weight loss and the list goes on and on. 

This is a hard story to write.  I am admitting my shortcomings to my peers.  I have admitted my shortcomings to friends and family and that is still a work in progress.  I hope by sharing, that I might be able to help someone by reading this.  We are not perfect, and life draws us in different directions.  I know I’m not the first person in this profession to struggle, hence my desire to reach out to my SAVT and SVMA associations to bring positive awareness with alcoholism and other issues in our province and beyond. 

On a positive side, I have my husband, children, thriving “Three Roses Ranch”, my mentor and his wife Ivy, co-workers, dearest kindred spirited friends, close relatives, and a community that I am so proud to belong to.  They all have stood by me with no judgment, only comments of bravery and much love for coming out of the darkness into the light.  I’m very lucky to have all the support I needed, and to live and laugh again.  My body doesn’t let me do the things I used to do, but that’s alright, I’m alive.  I can still perform microscopic submissions and be of value at the front end.  I will always be an RVT, I’m proud of it. 

I would sincerely thank Dr. Richard Krauss and his wife Ivy for allowing me to use their names and practice in sharing my story. Your support over two decades have made an impact on my recovery, for that I am grateful. 

Juanita Rose (Kohlman) Ivanochko, RVT


IMThriving is starting something new! On their website they are creating a page called VETsy (kind of like etsy.. but for our community!). It’s a place where the side hustles of veterinary professionals can be displayed. This service is a FREE SERVICE for anyone interested in participating.

To get involved you will need to forward a word document to That word document needs to contain the following:

1) your name and the name of your business (as you want it displayed)
2) an image for the main page that highlights your business or products
3) a paragraph or two about your business and products
4) additional photos and descriptions of your products you would like showcased on the page 
5) contact information and social media handles, i.e. information about how products can be purchased

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!