Accidental Pet Food Expert

The store was going out of business, I needed a new job, and fast.

I originally applied at Zellers one random day while looking for work, I went to the interview and turned down the job (in all honesty I think I was just overly nervous so I made excuses about commitments I had on weekends so I couldn’t work for them). Many months later, I was at a point where not having money was becoming a rather large issue for my day-to-day life. And so I asked a friend if her boyfriend could get me a job with Zellers, she simply replied “sure they’ll hire anyone” and so I went in and this time (the manager recognized me) I accepted the job and was ready to work whatever hours they were willing to give me. Little did I realize at the time that I would spend the next 4.5 years working for them,  enjoying some of it, and tolerating the rest.

It was during the last summer our (relatively) little store was open in the Hillside area of Victoria, BC when one of my best friends and “big sister” walked in to say hi. I mentioned how I was on the job hunt with the store closing, and she told me that she would put a good word for me in at the place she worked for, a high-end pet supply store. I knew almost nothing about proper food for dogs and cats, let alone supplements or first aid. Yet I applied anyway, mostly out of curiosity and desperation to find a job before I was unemployed. To reiterate, I had been working for Zellers for almost 5 years at this point, I knew what was expected of me and what I could get away with during my shift as far as slacking off or goofing around. The idea of working for a new place that did not know me terrified me, my anxiety was going to have a field day.

I needed to do this however, there was no option, so I went to the interview. Set in a Starbucks across the street from my future work place, I sat with the owner and manager for a while doing the usual question/answer thing. On top of that however, I felt as though they genuinely wanted to know who I was, and if I would be at home in this place (something I have rarely encountered in work situations). I felt at home very quickly with these people, the learning curve was high, and the expectations and standards even higher. What I did not know was how helpful these skills would benefit me in the future when trying to find a job.

When I was a little kid, I was afraid of dogs. Really, I was afraid of dogs until well into my teenage years. What I did not know, was that I was secretly a dog lover, and that the only reason I shied away from dogs in the past was due to some very poorly trained animals. I can spot them a mile away now, and I am often ready to give tips and tricks to the person holding the leash/collar (I am often tempted on the street with total strangers, but I bite my tongue). I never knew how amazing having a loving, and well trained dog could be.

I would spend my days talking to people about what type of dog they had, what allergies they may have, preferences for protein source, as well as how much they fed their pet. It could range from a 2 minute discussion, to 2 hours of talking about the particular needs of a severely sensitive dog stomach. I will be honest, there were days that I hated being at work and just wanted to go home, days when it was slow and I could not find anything other than busy work to do. There were other days were I smiled so much it hurt my cheeks, I had an amazing manager, got to work occasionally with one of my best friends, and play with dogs on a regular basis.

Over the year and a half I worked there, I was able to learn more than I ever knew was possible to know about feeding pets. How to take care of them properly, training skills, first aid (yes pet first aid, and yes I am able to perform mouth-to-mouth on a dog/cat), and an ever-growing love for dogs. I had no idea that when I came to Toronto I would end up using this skills again, and finding myself working once again in a place selling dog food and getting to hang out with dogs every day.

I do not currently own a dog, but I have been thinking about it for a long time, and I hope to have one by next summer! My breed of choice is a Bernese Mountain Dog, and my girlfriend seems to want something like an Airedale. So it is likely that there will be (at least) two dogs in my future home!

To finish my strange and wandering topic, a few last answers to questions you did not ask. Is it what I want to do long-term? Certainly not, however I can not think of a better way to spend a few days of the week while I figure out what I do want to do, and where I want to be. Do I see myself working with animals in any form in the future? Possibly, if I can manage to find a job involving writing about them or taking photos of them in the wild (a secret dream job of mine).

Thanks for reading once again!

-Michel; once had to perform CPR on a fake cat in a first aid class (it was weird)

PS: If you have any dog/cat questions about feeding, foods or brands, pr just a general question, please feel free to get in touch with me! (I am NOT a Vet however, serious conditions should be taken immediately to a Vet office)


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