NORTH DURHAM: Dr. Rachel Busato and Dr. Rachel Stadnyk work with animals for a living. They consider their jobs to be part surgery, part dentistry, part EMT, and onehundred per cent messy.
Far from the cute and cuddly cats and dogs which many people picture veterinarians working with, these women specialize in all things bovine, equine, and otherwise. Their clientele even includes camels, yaks, alpaca, and elephants.
For the owners and farmers of these animals, the large animal Doctors' on-call response and medical knowledge makes a life-and-death difference to their livelihood.
"We don't mind the mud and the smells because we get to do good work," said Dr. Stadnyk, a Manitoulin Island native who grew up next to a dairy farm and has always had a strong interest in animal health care. "It's challenging work because the animals can't talk and tell you what hurts - but I'm happy to help them whenever I can."
Both graduates of the University of Guelph and the Ontario Veterinary College, they are partners at Port Perry Veterinary Services, located at 1816 Scugog St. in Port Perry - and business is busy.
"You wouldn't survive very long in this field if it was 'just a job.'" said Dr. Busato. "The conditions aren't great and the hours are long, but it really feels great to help a sick animal and a worried farmer feel better."
Originally from Stouffville, Dr. Busato currently lives on a farm in Epsom, with her husband Dan and two daughters - along with a Noah's Ark of animals - 26 sheep, three horses, three cats.
She admits that she becomes a bit of a basket case when treating her own animals, and will often call her co-workers for advice.
"We are always on-call, even on weekends and in the middle of the night," said Dr. Busato. "The back of our trucks are full of medicines and tools, sort of like an animal ambulance service."
Dr. Busato added that she would like to have flashing lights mounted on her truck, and that the number-one item in her bag is a large supply of rubber gloves.
"We are prepared for anything because we don't have typical days," said Dr. Stadnyk. "You learn something new and see something unexpected more than I would like to admit."
The most interesting piece of equipment they carry around is part garage jack and part winch, called a 'calf-jack,' it is used to extract newborn calfs during birth.
The icky and sometimes gruesome medical problems that occur with livestock and horses are daily occurrences for the vets. Their typical week usually involves a couple cases of cholic, a condition where an animal's stomach becomes twisted and must be operated on in order to set it right.
Dr. Busato has made a lot of tough decisions during her career, which can be depressing at times. She then smiled and went on to say that many cases can bring a smile to her face as well.
"When I first started, I treated a horse who ran was scared and ran headfirst into a plate-glass window," said Dr. Busato. "It was pretty messy to look at, but I spent three hours picking glass from her face and cleaning her - she's still around six years later and is having lots of babies, it makes me proud."
Dr. Busato added that she would like to adopt the horse onto her own farm for retirement when it gets older.
"My job is completely different from working with small animals, and a lot of people don't know what to expect," said Dr. Satdnyk. "There are some days when I come home covered in mud and bruises, and I've been kicked by unhappy patients an awful lot - but we form strong relationships with our animals and clients."
At the end of the day, Doctors Stadnyk and Busato sat they get to lend a helping hand and comfort the creatures they love, who are unable to do it for themselves.
"It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it," said Dr. Busato. "I'm glad it's us."