Reflecting on my work over the past three years at the SPCA is hard. It’s emotional and it makes me feel a bit vulnerable to be honest. Working in any capacity with animals takes a very special person – if you can stick it out more than three months, you have my respect. There were many days that it was excruciatingly painful to get out of bed and drive to work. Sometimes policies and procedures enforced on staff made me raging mad. But even that being said, I will defend the SPCA and the work they do until my dying day. They do amazing things to protect the animals in the community and I am proud to have worked there for so long.
I don’t think I would have gotten into midwifery school if it wasn’t for the SPCA. I think I actually might be able to argue that I learned more in my three years at the SPCA then I did in my first degree… might be a stretch, but it’s really close. I learned how to be assertive and how to stand my ground. I think I almost perfected my, let’s call it passionate, nature and my crisis intervention skills, but also how to alter my voice to soothe a crying person. I learned how to be an advocate for women and animals. Without these attributes, I don’t think I would have been successful in my application to McMaster.
I need to tell you that I have worked with some of the strongest women I’ve ever met. They’re hilarious, charming, and witty. We made a little family working together and I’m sad to be physically (but not permanently) leaving it. I’m also so looking forward to meeting similar women within the birth community and expanding that circle to include so many other bad ass ladies. Women are such interesting little creatures… and it has been my absolute pleasure being friends with these ones.
If you’ve ever worked at an animal shelter, I don’t have to tell you that the work is difficult. And I’m not necessarily speaking about dealing with animals, I’ve never worked in a more difficult environment dealing with people. Sometimes people suck… we can’t really get away from it so I will ask that if you are a member of the public and you’re dealing with an SPCA employee, treat them with kindness… treat them with compassion. They go into work everyday with the intention of using up every last drop of their kindness, compassion, and empathetic reserves to help your animals. I can promise you that it’s not the policies and procedures that are keeping them there, it’s the animals, and that loving kindness should not be taken for granted. By anyone. You might not know it, but you are likely the not the first person to yell at them today and you won’t be the last. So take that into consideration when you are dealing with anyone who serves the public, whether that’s at a restaurant or the deli counter, treat them with the dignity and respect that you expect in your life. Even if they’re clumsy… it might just be their first day on the job!
I need to take some of my own advice now and remember that I’m going to be a first year newbie in September. I’m going to need reminding to not be so hard on myself when I’m struggling through anatomy in a few months or when I’m up until 3am trying to finish a paper. I’ll need to remember those skills I learned working at the SPCA and put a lot of self care into practice. I think it’ll work out just great.
I’m really happy about my world view as I close this chapter of my life and move on to midwifery. I think that the experiences at the SPCA will stick with me forever and hopefully make me a kind and nurturing midwife. I’m happy that it leaves me open to new experiences and really take in everything McMaster will have to offer. This first year is going to be hard, but oh my god is it ever going to be fun!