Meet Our New Veterinarian – A Q&A with Dr. Olivia Schmidtz

July 27th 2020

Q: When and how did you know you wanted to become a veterinarian?‚Äč
A: I was speaking to and following my pets from the time I could walk and talk. In my mind, they always talked back, in their own way! When I was about 5 or 6-years-old, I was in the car with my family driving past the veterinary campus in Saskatoon, where we lived at the time, and I asked my dad why there were cows inside the city (the school has dairy cows on campus). My dad proceeded to tell me that was where people trained to become animal doctors. My eyes widened and I was hooked. A doctor for animals? What could be better than that? It turns out I loved biology in school and that’s when my dream started to become a true academic goal. Spending plenty of time at my grandparents’ farm near Onoway, AB also helped me decide on my career. I loved helping out with their small herd of cattle and was enthralled by watching calving, giving my first injection to a calf, and seeing what went into their day-to-day care. Those times were very special to me and the bond I had with animals grew and flourished so much during this time. 
Q: Can you tell us about your path to becoming a veterinarian?
A: After taking all of my sciences in high school, I decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in Ecology at the University of Calgary. After I graduated, I worked for a year in the behaviour department at the Calgary Humane Society, where I trained to become a dog trainer. I also was accepted into the University of Calgary’s veterinary program that year. I graduated this spring (2020) as a veterinarian into a brave new world with the advent of COVID-19.
Q: Can you tell us about your special interests in veterinary medicine?
A: I have a few special interests as a veterinarian. I love behaviour. During my time at the animal shelter, I became acutely aware of the importance surrounding the emotional wellbeing of animals. As a trainer, I learned that even the most fearful of animals are capable of making huge strides in their learning to become happy, well-adjusted animals. I also learned that some emotional states are beyond repair. I encourage pet owners to be proactive in their training and invest in the emotional health of their pets, in addition to their physical wellbeing.
I have three adopted pets: Winnie, my cattle dog mix, and my two domestic long-haired kitties, Gale and Zephyr. As shelter animals, I had to help them through some stressful transitions, which required a lot of time and training. Winnie also came to me with terrible allergies, which is why I also took an interest in dermatology. Skin issues can be frustrating, expensive, and seem to take along time to fix. That is why I love to help my clients and patients navigate these problems in the most caring and customized way I can. Finally, I love dentistry because oral health is incredibly important for our pets. If you’ve ever had a canker sore or sore tooth, you know how painful it is. Excellent dental care has such immediate effects on our pets’ wellbeing and is so rewarding to be a part of. 
Q: What are you looking forward to working in the clinic?
A: I have loved being a part of the Montgomery team as a new grad! I also adore the community and the passionate people I work with. The best part of working at this clinic is that we all collaborate and problem-solve to create the best possible experience and outcomes for our patients. We look on the positive side and take care of one another.
Q: What are your approaches to clients and their pets?
A: I like to get to know my clients and their pets. How did your pet come into your life? What does your bond mean to you? What would make your pet’s emotional and physical health the best it can be? I like to be proactive in caring for my patients. This means that my clients and I have conversations about training, oral health, nutrition, aging, etc. I like to look at the whole picture to ensure the best quality care for my clients’ pets that suits their lifestyle at the same time. 
Q: What would you like the clients to know about you?
A: I want my clients to know that I am here to make them feel heard. There is always a story behind why a client has brought their pet to the clinic, and I want to be part of that story. Our relationships with our pets are deep and meaningful and it brings me joy to hear what makes your bond special. 

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