Dr Tara Hudye, DVM, CCRP
aka rehab vet, wife to a great guy who encourages me on a daily basis, mother of three fantastic kids and owner of my favorite place to be, Veterinary Mobility Center
I started my veterinary career back in 2004 when honestly, no one talked of rehabilitation. There was no rehab department back when I was in vet school, nor was there orthotics, prosthetics or mention of 'integrative care'.
Throughout my early days as a vet, I became increasingly frustrated with myself and my abilities. Don't get me wrong! I am not blaming my schooling or my professors with the lack of my knowledge. In fact, I truly believe that the veterinary school that I called home for 4 years, is the best in the country. Western College of Veterinary Medicine is the place to go if you want to become a veterinarian. They taught me the foundations, the basics and graduated a veterinarian that was competent and successful.
But, I still felt uneasy when a lame dog or cat was my next patient. I was taught the basic orthopedic and neurological exam. But what happens when you do this testing, followed up with radiographs, and all ends up normal? Then what? The dog is limping for some reason so it obviously is in pain, so anti inflammatories, rest and joint supplements will do the trick. Good, I felt as though I was helpful and helped my patient. That is the goal of my job. Help the patient.
Some recover and do well. Some never come back to the office and I think I healed them, yah!
But, some do not.
Some patients do not show any improvement despite all the treatments I knew what to do. Some did in fact improve, but that darn lameness crept back and worse yet with the return to activity. Now what? I would then diagnose 'soft tissue injury'. Whew, I gave the ailment a name. However I still did not know how to treat it. And you cannot treat something if you do not know what is wrong, and more importantly what 'soft tissue' part is even the problem.
And that my friends, was the source of my frustration. I knew there was more to learn, more to know, and more ways I could help.
Fast forward to 2012. I was heading to the University of Tennessee, enrolled in the Fast Track Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP) program. Fast track just meant I was trying to complete all the training all in a shortened time frame, during the hot hot month of July instead of throughout an entire year or more. In case you were not aware, living in Tennessee during the hottest month of the year was ... hot, sweaty and a bit uncomfortable. On the other hand, it was such fun and I met colleagues whom I still talk to this day. Being a rehab vet is somewhat lonely and isolating in a professional sense at times, so I treasure the relationships I made.
I was a mother of three and all my children were young. In fact, my youngest was less than 2 years old. When I returned from the initial schooling, I recall my son, Blake, being shy and acting like I was a stranger. I was heartbroken. Luckily he began to warm up to me again, and I settled into a routine of using my newfound knowledge with my patients, writing case reports over a 6 months time frame, and completing my internship at my home college back in Saskatoon. Finishing all of this in time to present and sit for the exam was my focused goal for those 5 months. I headed back yet again to Tennessee to present my cases and write the certification exam. Geez, I thought I was done, finished, with exam writing. And yet I was heading back for more.
I must stop now to acknowledge a few important people that made all this craziness and travelling possible. My husband, Brad, whom would just smile and encourage me in this dream I had. My kids and lets face it, Brad, did not completely understand why I wanted to learn more. Yet, they supported me in my quest to learn and become a better vet.
During this entire process, I was employed as a veterinary associate at the veterinary clinic I often think of as my 'cultivation grounds'. I feel forever indebted to the veterinarians and staff at the Lakewood Animal Hospital. They allowed me to have a dream, follow it, grow it and continue chasing it. Thank you to this wonderful group of individuals whom I forever have the utmost respect and care for.
My dream of rehabilitation medicine sprouted while I was there. They gave me the means of learning at the Univ. of Tennessee. The dream was seeded and began to grow when I ultimately passed by CCRP examinations December 2012. I was done! I became what I wanted to become, a rehab vet. Now, all I had to do come back home, to Regina and cultivate my new skills.
What happens when you cultivate something is that it grows. I consider the knowledge I gained like a plant. Once it started to grow, the growth was endless. The more I watered the plant, gave it sun and pampered it, it grew. Nope, I am not thinking I am a plant, but my hope is you get the analogy.
I cannot tell you how many times I said to myself, " I had no idea that occurred". Was I the only vet practicing that did not know that piece of anatomy even existed? Why did I not think of this ailment before? It was a realization that those ' soft tissues' actually play such a important role in movement and function and they can be treated if you know exactly what to do.
Why not being able to walk and being in constant pain made me a better rehab vet.