Vacation turned veterinary adventure

Vacation turned veterinary adventure

My Australian vacation took an amazing turn when I flew into the perfect opportunity to help pets in need.
Nov 01, 2013

When I bumped into an old friend while taking a ferry from Townsville, Australia, to Magnetic Island ("Maggie," as the locals call it), it was a wonderful surprise. Dr. Caroline Mann was my supervising veterinarian at an animal hospital in Australia nearly 10 years ago.

We spent the windy ride catching up. Dr. Caroline was still enjoying island life on Maggie and working as a veterinarian on the mainland. She'd also started a free veterinary clinic for the pets of the Aboriginal residents on nearby Palm Island.

I was honored when Dr. Caroline invited me to stay at her island house for the weekend. As we drove in Dr. Caroline's Volkswagen bus, Dr. Caroline avoided running over startled wallabies jumping across the winding road. We joked that at least if she hit one, she'd probably be able to fix it.

I was greeted by yet another surprise when I made my way onto the enclosed patio at the front of Dr. Caroline's house. He was just standing there, as handsome as he ever was. Moo Cow, the black-and-white Staffordshire bull terrier, was one of the first "Staffys" I'd ever met when I first moved to Townsville, and he made me fall deeply in love with the breed. Moo Cow wiggled his way over to me for a scratch, and I marveled that this was the same dog I had played fetch on the beach with 10 years earlier.

An unexpected offer

A few days later I was back in Townsville staying with friends when Dr. Caroline called to ask, "How would you like to work with me tomorrow?"

I immediately said yes. I was so excited, I almost didn't hear Dr. Caroline say, "I can't pay you but I can get you a free airline ticket to work, if that's alright with you."

Did she say airline ticket? Dr. Caroline explained that we would spend the day on Palm Island and return on the last flight leaving the island at 3 p.m. As payment for my help, Dr. Caroline would bring her famous vegetarian lasagna for us to share for lunch. A free airline ticket to a tropical island, an unplanned adventure and the veterinarian brings me lunch? How could I resist?