Brushing Up on my Canine Education

by Jason Smith

In 2003, I completed nine weeks of training in the Army’s Animal Care Specialist course. That’s about 450 hours of classroom and lab learning equivalent to a 2-year course in veterinary technology. You wouldn’t think that a 9-week course would be sufficient to train a veterinary technician, but I am amazed that what I learned in the Army surpassed what my civilian counterparts had learned in a traditional education program.

I put my knowledge to work for 2.5 years, serving as a veterinary technician at Osan Air Base, Korea; Fort Knox, Kentucky; and at the Hurstbourne Animal Hospital in Louisville, KY. It has been almost 8 years since I worked in a veterinary clinic, but I hold the knowledge I’ve acquired through learning and experience in high regard. What I’ve learned gives me a competitive advantage in my business over other companies without my training. However, I do not want to rely solely on the education I acquired in the past. I feel that in order to remain competitive and to be an expert in my field, it is essential to stay current with regard to animal care. Therefore, I’ve decided to read more material with relevance to dogs and pets in general.

I embarked on this quest because I find that when I read new material, it inspires me to share my experiences in my blog. I thought, What a great way to generate topics to share with my readers! So I found books that I thought would be relevant to what I have already written so as to expand my awareness of these topics. I was expecting to find great tips I could share with my Facebook fans. I have found some great tips, but what I wasn’t expecting to find was how much has changed in those eight years since I practiced veterinary technology.

I learned that while I may be an expert in some things regarding companion animals, what I know barely scratches the surface of all there is to know. I am looking forward to sharing my experience with you all once I have had the time to complete my journey. I see it as a growth opportunity to learn first for myself and then secondly to share that knowledge with others. In a way, I’m following that old Army teaching paradigm: “See one, do one, teach one.”

Currently, I am reading Ted Kerasote’s Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for Longer Lived Dogs. I picked up this book because my business’ tagline is “Regarding animal life.” It is at the very heart of what we do to help people provide the best life possible for their companion animals. What I have read of this book so far has been a revelation to some things I just didn’t know. It deals with all the facets of owning a dog, from grieving from the loss of a beloved pet, to acceptance and looking for another dog with whom to share your life. It doesn’t stop there. Kerasote’s lament is that we can fall in love with a dog who we will always outlive. He transforms this into an actionable statement by searching for ways to increase the longevity of dogs. From diet to exercise, to spaying and neutering, to breeding, to vaccinating, Kerasote is thorough in his methods of covering it all.

I am excited about what I have learned so far and I do look forward to sharing with you in another blog. Have you read the book? What are your thoughts? What are you doing to give your dogs the best lives possible?

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