The Dog Industry - the highest highs, lowest lows, and everything in between.
To the life savers, healers, rescuers, and trainers ... to the daycare workers, groomers, boarders and fosters - WE APPLAUD YOU!
I have been working in the pet industry for over three years now and let me tell you...this is THE most difficult industry that I have ever been a part of.
For a lot of people it is hard to conceptualize the literal blood, sweat, and tears that go into every single one of the jobs in the pet industry as it is hidden behind this facade that we have the best jobs ever, or that all we do is cuddle dogs every day.
Now don't get me wrong... I absolutely adore my job and I feel incredibly lucky every day that I have found my passion. I love being able to help all of our clients, and their beloved pets thrive, and live their best life. However it's not all sunshine and rainbows in the life of a dog trainer - or any one who works with dogs for that matter.
I have consciously caught myself starting to avoid conversations about what I do - which is absolutely insane because I'm actually really proud of what I do, but 9 times out of 10 I get the following responses:
-"People actually pay for that?"
-"Best job ever! You must get to play with dogs all day!"
-"Must be nice to pet dogs as a job"
-"I'm so jealous, it's like you don't even have to work!"
And so on, and so forth.
So what's wrong with these responses you might ask? Nothing in particular - but when you receive this menial response regularly, it starts to degrade the view of importance you see in your profession.
(Under this line I am about to get into some details about my personal journey, and some of the hardships that I have experienced. I suppose some could find it relevant to this article, but if you do not, please skip on ahead!)
I spent some time working as a veterinary assistant when I started my journey in the pet industry.
An average day was spent doing the following:
- Cleaning excrement, blood, and vomit.
- Cleaning and sanitizing operating rooms.
- Assisting in surgeries (which also included properly disposing of body parts, organs, etc)
- Restraining scared, and sick/hurt animals.
- Taking phone calls or talking to clients in person who are scared, stressed, and frustrated because their fur babies are hurt or sick.
- Experiencing the devastating and raw loss of someone having to say goodbye to their best friend, and family member on a very regular basis.
- Having to then ask that person to pay a bill after the heartbreak that they just experienced...
I emotionally could not continue in that environment as it was taking a toll, and I moved over to a shelter where I was in the foster and behaviour departments.
Foster days were spent:
- Scrambling to find a never ending list of puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats foster homes
- Vaccinating and deworming an insane amount of animals (especially when a whole litter of kittens or puppies came in for an update)
- Arranging supplies for pick up as well as cleaning out litterboxes and kennels that have been dropped off completely full
When working in the foster department I would find myself legitimately running down the halls trying to multitask the litter of 6 kittens that were dropped off with the 3 puppies that were being picked up, and the 4 cats who needed vaccines updated...all while keeping up with correspondence via phone and email...you very rarely got the chance to pet any puppies.
Behaviour days were spent:
- Working one-on-one with dogs so were surrendered, strays, lost, and - sometimes in the worst cases - abused.
- Walking all dogs who were evaluated with a few more quirks which meant only experienced employees could work with them.
** This meant that a normal walk wasn't your every day walk in the park. This meant that you were always on alert to make sure you didn't run into other people walking dogs, and executing the proper training techniques and protocols to suit their needs and help them thrive.