A dog inspired me to become a veterinarian

The Nordic Vet Shop story - and what I can help you and your dog on

 

8 years and determined to become a veterinarian

I was 8 years old when I decided to become a veterinarian. (You find a short summary of my background here)

What had caught my interest, was the neighbour’s dog, the male Rufus, a mixbreed from Collie and Husky. Rufus was a bit reserved and afraid of kids, but the two of us got along very well. Rufus’ human mum also told me stories about a girl that had moved abroad to become a “Doctor of Veterinary Medicine”. It was all so exciting, both dogs, moving abroad and studying veterinary medicine.

Rufus and I used to spend hours and hours in the forest together, and I remeber to this day where I was when I made the decision about my education. I had been walking Rufus for quite some time, and had lied down on the wet forest floor of the pinewoods, just outside the city of Bergen, in Norway. The dog was resting at my side, sniffing the cones and keeping an eye out, and I was letting the raindrops fall on my face. I had one crystal clear thought in my head: I was going to be a veterinarian.

Decided early to become a veterinarian

 

My first hunting dog

At 15, I got my own dog. The hunting dog Frøy, a Norwegian grey elkhound, was chosen after lots of consideration and many hours of reading books on dogs. Frøya was strong and robust, giving us lots of joy and challenges. I trained obedience and basic hunting skills with her, not least search for wounded game. Frøya was to join in on large game hunting, and thus being able to track down any wounded deer or moose was essential. The basic training on preparing blood traces and being able to “read” when the dog was on track, was my job. Frøya passed her tracking test easily!

However, it was difficult to get the basic obedience in place with Frøya, she never became properly behaved. She was driven by strong instincts, and she shined when she did what she was best at: hunting! One of the most important lessons she gave me, though, was understanding how important it was to make myself interesting as the flock leader, and make it pay off for her to do as I asked her. It should be fun to come when I called! For Frøya, the natural interest was with the hunting, not so much with us humans.

Paradise is practice on a farm

After finishing high school, I was in practice at a wonderful visit farm, a farm living from receiving visitors. The time here strengthened my wish to become a vet. The couple running the farm had left their well paid jobs to run a riding school. Here they accepted kids and youngsters for training and experiences at the farm. All visitors got the opportunity to ride the horses, try carriage driving, collect eggs and feed the free ranging hens and pigs, pet goats and rabbits. People came from kindergardens, associations of  the blind and handicapped, and the local area – all had a place to be and thrive at that farm.

Norway’s best dog school and Northern Norway calling

The training with the horses inspired me to apply for admission to one of Norway’s best dog schools at that time. The “Armed Forces’ Dog School” educated both soldiers as dog handlers, and dogs as duty dogs. In addition, I really wanted to experience Northern Norway, with its midnight sun, northern lights and wild nature – up north both mooses and bears live close to humans. At the admission tests I said that I wanted to be a border patrol guarding the Norwegian-Russian border in Kirkenes. The Armed Forces offered some spectacular opportunities for a dog friend like me, to work with patrolling, track and search, hike in breathtakingly beautiful nature, and work with a top tuned superdog in a military setting. I also found that time had come to work with a dog bred for obedience more than hunting skills. My wishes came true, and in no time, I sat on the plane to Kirkenes, starting my adventure as a Dog Handler in the army.

Challenges in green uniform

In the Armed Forces, I got the responsibility for a German Shepherd Dog, Catzo, an angry antisocial dog not agreeing with the other dogs. He was strong as a bear, trained to catch soldiers on the run by biting and holding them back at the arm. Fortunately, we never experience the need for this during my time at the border between Russia, Finland and Norway. But we did dry-runs and participated in field training exercises, where we "played war". I was one of two girls among a couple of hundred soldiers. 

Military service in Northern Norway as dog handler

The dog as a mirror

The time in the army was tough, and Catzo was extremely attentive to me and my perfect mirror. I got immediately “punished” by an unruly dog when I was uncertain and did't quite know what to do in training situations. Catzo got nervous and snapped out for the other soldiers if I did't pull myself together, taking command. It just wasn’t fun to have a dog of 42 kg ready to bite, in addition to lack of selfcontrol!

It dawned on me that the key to a good collaboration with the dog lied in getting control of myself first. I tested it out, and immediately Catzo agreed kindly and very positively to my attempts to relax in heated situations. He acted with the greatest calm when the world literally was a warzone around us. He didn’t bite uncontrolled anymore and even qualified for the Norwegian Military Working Dog Championship, with me at the other end of the leash! We got a respectable fifth place, out of twentyfive participants. I was so proud, thinking I was pretty good at dogs ... However, it later proved to be a bit different with our own family dog, than a top-trained military service dog 😊

Intelligent and cooperative dogs act as your mirror

Veterinary studies and work at a Companion Animal Clinic

After being a Military Dog Handler, I took off to Budapest for an internationally recognized “Doctor of Veterinary Medicine” degree at the University there. It gave me the opportunity to practice as a vet in any European country afterwards. The studies were demanding, broad and thorough, and I really enjoyed my time here. After a while, though, I wanted more paws and fur, and took a year off to practice. I was very fortunate to be admitted by one of Norway's best companion animal veterinarians, she owned of one of the largest and most modern clinics at that time. I was employed as an assistant after a few days. I stayed affiliated with this clinic for the rest of my studies and a few years thereafter.

The last years of the studies passed fast, and soon I was back in Norway were several job opportunities waited. However, doubt had be sown in me, was clinical practice the right thing? Sometimes, I had the task to put healthy animals to sleep, and I missed the opportunity to do more to help, besides only giving the pet its last injection.

Veterinarians work with so many things

I looked for other ways to work as a vet and shortly after my career in the pharmaceutical industry begun. Thus, some good years followed, where I got the opportunity to deep dive into parasitology, studying ticks, fleas, heart- and lungworms and intestinal worms, and skin problems such as allergies, eczema and mites. I got a solid understanding of the use of antibiotics and resistance development, and much more. In addition, in the international environment I was working in, I got the task to demonstrate what qualities the Nordics represented, a work I eagerly took on with pride.

A Jack Russel steals my heart

At this time, I also got my very own dog, a little Jack Russel terrier with a big ego, Kip. Kip was the apple of my eye for many years, a true delight. Bright and easy to train, obedient and naughty at the same time. Really a fun and good friend. I spent lots of time training him, taking him on long walks, and he became a natural part of the family, full of energy and enthusiasm.

Jack russel terrier

Copenhagen brings lots of good changes to my life

After a few years, Kip moved with me to Copenhagen, where I next to my work took an education on leadership and management at Copenhagen Business School. I finished my "Executive Master of Business Administration" after two years of hard studies and lots of work, and major life changes. I had left my boyfriend and found a new one, Jakob, and Jakob and his two kids moved in. We bought a new house, got married, and had our first child of two, together.

It was a lot of changes for Kip to absorb over a relatively short period of time. The first signs of something not being right appeared. I tried to help him through, and most of the time he was a joy to the family. 

However, also Kip turned out to be a perfect mirror of how much attention and effort he got, and he "said" a lot about the interaction and collaboration in the family around the dog. Life was very busy with four children, friends and family, house renovation, gardening and career jobs for both of us. Our ambitions were demanding on us.

Kip had reached a decent age. However, he had also started having potty accidents inside. He refused to be walked when it rained. If it wasn’t the right person walking him, he backed out of his collar when he could, and ran back home. He barked at visitors and sneaked off to visit neighbours on his own.

A strained family – a strained dog

It became increasingly annoying and stressful with both everyday challenges, and Kip not being particularly compatible with our family life. It slowly dawned on me that I myself had become one of those I have met at the clinic so many times. One of those people that just couldn’t see how their otherwise healthy pet could fit into the family anymore. I tried to put Kip up for adoption, but that wasn’t easy with a twelve-year-old barking dog doing his “business” inside the house ...

I realized that putting Kip to sleep was the right to do. We did not thrive with the dog as the situation was. I felt so bad for not liking my own dog anymore, and I seeked support from vet colleagues in making a decision.

How did we end up here?

However, no one in my network is digging deeper into how we ended up here with Kip. We get no awareness of, or tools to deal with, underlying causes. It all looks pretty good on the surface, and Kip has become an old dog. I feel that the dog is just another living creature demanding me, and I can’t take it any longer. Gone is the feeling of the dog as my friend, my osasis, great joy and enrichment.

I end up euthanizing Kip the autumn he turns twelve years old. Putting him to sleep is both a huge relief and a major defeat to me. Two years go by before I am ready for a dog again, and in those years I am scrutinizing what "went wrong" for us with Kip. Also, my life is far from the ideal I had about working with animals and nature as a young girl. I have ended up as "the veterinarian without animals"…

I study family psychology, on topics like patchwork family and siblings conflicts, I take courses in change management in organizations, and classes in dog behavior. I read in-depth about nutrition in both humans and dogs. Slowly the homefront gets more peaceful, I sleep better at night, I loose several kilos, and I get the extra energy needed to build a life better fitting my values, ideals and my passion.

Life as an entrepreneur

Nordic Vet Shop sees the light of day on a baking hot summer day in 2018. I want to build Nordic Vet Shop as a brand that offers delicious and healthy snacks and high quality Nordic gear for active family dogs.

A few months later, I quit my very good job to run my business full time. The driving force is getting back to the roots as a veterinarian, enjoy nature to a greater extent, and I want a dog to be part of the large and busy family.

Part of the Nordic Vet Shop concept is also building my own, quite unique, family vet and life coach practice, which aim to help busy and overwhelmed families enjoy life with a dog (again). I am in the process of developing a concept to help put an end to stress about having a dog in busy times. I want to be the veterinarian and coach for the family that I once needed myself! I coach my customers to ensure both fast and lasting desired change. Thus, the focus on what gives good meaning and joy to the individual owner and dog is important - that is also meaningful to me.

Dog based coaching - is that something?

Today I see Kip's behavior back then as a clear and telling symptom of a family that did not create good frames for the little dog. Kip did not have his clear, assigned place and task in the family. However, we neither had energy, awareness nor knowledge enough, for us to have done things differently.

By mentally changing our approach and attitude towards the dog - and life in general, the family's last years with Kip could have be much better for the whole family - and maybe he would have lived longer. By first and foremost taking care of our own wellbeing and energy level, increasing the capacity to handle life challenges, the adults in the family would have been stronger - also in living with a dog.

New dog, new beginning

To me, there is so much company, good experiences and great learning in having a dog. I feel I can't live without, and to me, a family is not complete without a dog!

Dogs a part of the family

Another Jack Russel Terrier is now part of the family, Sif has moved in. The first few weeks and months offer total fur-baby happiness ... and lots of work, challenges and worries. Potty accidents and interrupted sleep are parts of it. But its all worth it when it provides fantastic learning for both children and adults, exciting nature experiences and brings us as a family closer together around project "Dog".

Sif as a puppy

Do you need help?

Do parts of my story resonate with you, do you feel overwhelmed by your life with a dog? Then I am here to help!

I guide and advice others to (re)experience having a dog as an enrichment. Do you need support in... 

  • handling the demanding combination of a family with a dog, and you want to get rid of the feeling of being drained?
  • fixing a dog that has become untrained and fat ... and maybe you want to get rid of some extra kilos, too?
  • eliminating your dog’s bad habits and make it polite and sociable, and get the family on board so your training attempts are not sabotaged?
  • making sure your dog does not have any pain or underlying disease that can prevent it from being the best version of itself?
  • making the difficult decision of putting your dog up for adoption or to sleep, without the feeling of shame and guilt, and make sure the kids understand the difficult decision?
  • creating a more meaningful life with more time in nature and with dogs?
  • finding the right new dog for you and your family?

I have a concept for people like you. You, who are where I was some years ago. Fortunately I am not there anymore. I know there is a way out for you!

Are you ready to work on yourself and create a happier everyday life for you, your family and your dog, then let's talk about how I can walk the way with you.

You can write to me to book a time for a talk on your situation and how I can help (45 minutes, for free).

Yes, this sounds like just the right thing for me - what does it cost and how long does it take?

If we decide to work together, I will suggest a process tailored to your needs. Prices are set according to your individual situation and needs. You will get immediate results when working with me. To get to final desired state you should count in at least 3 to 6 months time, and be ready to work with yourself. I will guide you all the way in the process.

You can contact me to book a talk to find out if I can help you. An initial talk with me for 45 minutes by phone is of no cost for you, and the feedback for others in the same situation as you, is that they take away useful advice from our conversation that they can implement right away.

Vibeke Nordrehaug, DVM, eMBA, Family vet, Life coach

 

Vibeke Nordrehaug

Comments

Vibeke Nordrehaug

Tusen takk for dine anerkjennende ord, Merete! Super med ros fra en kollega innen faget.

Vi vil jo veldig mye på en gang, og jeg vet at du vet veldig mye om hund, og derfor legger du barren høyt, og forventer mye av deg selv. Du er definitivt ikke alene, sånn har veldig mange av dem jeg snakker med det!

Jeg tenker vi alle kan ta litt av presset på oss selv vekk ved å tenke at innimellom får det bare være godt nok, det behøver ikke være perfekt.

Jeg har mange tips for smart og tidsbesparende hundeaktivering og hundehold til pressede hundeeiere, rekk bare ut!

Beste hilsen fra Vibeke i Nordic Vet Shop

Vibeke Nordrehaug

Hurra for deg, Vibeke! Dette tror jeg mangehundeeiere (meg selv inkludert) vil kunne nyte godt av. Kjenner selv på at tidsklemma har tatt hundegleden mye dra meg, og savner det veldig. Kan hvertfall anbefale din hjertevarme personlighet til alle som trenger en hundecoach! Håper du lykkes 😘

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