Laura Thomassen, a veterinary student from Germany has spent several weeks in Saskatchewan getting a taste of her chosen career spending her time with Dr. Kenn Wood.
"I'm doing it on my own. It's my summer holidays basically," she said, adding making arrangements proved rather easy. "I emailed the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medicine Association."
The Association posted her interest to spend some time shadowing a veterinarian here in its newsletter and Dr. Wood responded.
Dr. Wood focuses much of his practice on large farm animals.
Thomassen, who is taking courses at a veterinary college in Hanover -- one of five universities in Germany offering classes, said she has yet to make a decision regarding what she will specialize in once she completes her course.
"I'm about to go into my fifth semester, so I have two years done," she said of the 5.5-year course. "I haven't decided, but I'm interested to try everything before deciding."
How large animals are viewed in Saskatchewan is different than in Germany, especially in terms of horses.
In Germany horses are generally a very high cost hobby for people, and as such the animals are owned by wealthy people who spare no expense in treating their animals. She said their horses regularly go through X-Rays, ultrasound, MRIs and see specialists, because the animals end up to be in high cost sports such as show jumping and dressage.
"That's not the average here … It's a bit different … It's a different perspective on horses," she said.
With Dr. Wood, Thomassen said she has seen horses which are more a functioning part of a farm operation. As an example she said she has seen farmers riding horses to work with their cattle.
"You would not see that in Germany," she said.
In fact Thomassen said beef cattle are not particularly common in her country.
"We don't have a lot of beef cattle, and so that's an experience I won't get in Germany," she said.
Having a chance to shadow Dr. Wood has given Thomassen a perspective on being a veterinarian she doesn't get in university. Here, under his supervision, she has taken blood and done other hands-on things with cattle and horses. She said while the course does offer practical courses with live animals in a class of 270 you still rarely get the opportunity to be the one working with the stock.
"So I've learned how to handle cattle," she said, adding that is something that is different from what her classes would provide.
Thomassen said she likes the experience of traveling to learn.
"Spending time with people where they actually live, you have a different perspective," she said, adding that is why she came to Canada, and previously spent time in Ireland helping out on a farm at lambing time. "… That's the way you learn the most."
As she looks forward to a series of three-month practicums with her course Thomassen said she hopes to spend one in South Africa and another in Hungry or Romania, again to gain new perspective of working with animals.
Thomassen said she isn't a farm girl, so that is not where her interest in veterinary medicine came from. Her hometown is Malente, a community of about 5,000 in the north of Germany close to the Baltic Sea.
The 25-year-old did say she has thought about being a veterinarian from a very young age.
"It started maybe when I was five," she said, noting she talked about being an animal doctor even then.
There has certainly been a long interest in animals at any rate.
Thomassen spent half a year in British Columbia after graduating high school specifically to be involved in dog
"I always wanted to go to Canada. I've always been interested in wolves," she said, adding her stay at 100-Mile-House gave her a chance to experience this country behind a dog sled. "… I always wanted to try dog sledding," she said, adding an Internet search helped her find the experience she was looking for.
As for an encounter with wolves it didn't transpire.
"I saw tracks, but no wolves," she said.
The interest in wolves certainly fed her interest in veterinary medicine.
"I wanted to do something with wolves, but couldn't make any money at it," said Thomassen. "But I like helping animals and like working with animals, and I like working with people too." She said becoming a veterinarian will allow her the opportunity to do both.