By Stephanie Wilson
Born a “Gog” Lover, I adamantly took my toy “gogs” with me everywhere I went. In fact, I believed I was a “gog.” My mother tells me that I used to sit under the table, panting and begging for food (Obviously imitating bad behaviour). My dogs were my best friends.
After school I went on to study a Bsc. Genetics and then completed my honours in Entomology, during which I studied parasites. I endured multiple rejections from Onderstepoort during these years.
I then had the greatest realisation that changed my life. If I don’t work with dogs every day, striving to make a difference in their lives, I will never be happy. Since then, I completed a practical dog grooming course and a level 3 certificate in small animal hydrotherapy.
For me, dog grooming was not about making dogs look pretty, but ensuring their comfort. Grooming taught me to pay close attention to detail on a dog’s body. For example, abnormalities on their bodies may be revealed requiring veterinary attention. I also learnt how to better listen to dogs by identifying the difference between learnt behaviour and pain. Pain tells us that our companion is in need of our help.
How can we manage pain? During my canine hydrotherapy studies, my heart skipped a beat when I learnt about the healing properties of water. From hip dysplasia to intervertebral disc disease, we can provide a chance for these dogs to enjoy life. In the water, these patients can do more with less weight bearing on their joints, building muscle in the long term to support their joints and also receiving a rush of endorphins on the day!
Today, I have inner peace knowing that I have the skills and knowledge to make a difference in the quality of life of our companions. When Dr. Tanya asked me to join her team, I felt so incredibly blessed for the opportunity. Being involved with Animal Health and Hydro has definitely brought me closer to my aspirations.