A Family Affair

Venture North ~ Winter 2011 (V5I4)

At All Paws Veterinary Clinic in Whitehorse, a slow day is a good thing
||Photos by Cathie Archbould||
It's no secret Yukoners adore their animals. One can see it everywhere-- exhausted Yukon Quest mushers massaging their team's frozen paws at checkpoints, dinner-party hosts taking care to add “dogs welcome” to their invitations, and advertisements on message boards from folks who’ll gladly turn over their home to a stranger for a month just so their cat doesn't get lonely while they're on vacation. It's a pet- friendly place, to be sure, so it's no surprise there's high demand for quality veterinary care.
    Dr. Candace Stuart has performed veterinary medicine at various animal hospitals in the North for over 10 years. The Labrador native struck out on her own in fall 2010 with All Paws Veterinary Clinic, located at the top of Robert Service Road in Whitehorse. In just one busy year, All Paws has won a legion of dedicated clients happy to give rave reviews for Stuart's “family doctor” approach, as well as her understanding of the unique health needs of Yukon animals.
   “I graduated from the Atlantic Veterinary College, in Prince Edward Island, in 2000, but I grew up in Labrador, so I always wanted to return to the North to work. Initially I went to work in Alaska, but I visited a friend of mine in Whitehorse, and I just kind of fell in love with the town,” recalls Stuart. “I kept working until a job became available here in 2004, which was with Yukon Vet. I worked there for a year, and then moved to Alpine Vet, in 2005, when they opened and Yukon Vet closed.”
    Stuart's five years at Alpine Vet were spent getting to know the community and the challenges of practising in a remote setting. While she enjoyed the fast-paced environment, she longed for a chance to realize her own vision for veterinary care.
    “I was looking for something that was a little more homey, less like a hospital,” she says, “and I also wanted to look more into alternative therapies.... I worked in big, multi-doctor practices with up to seven doctors, and early on in my career I really enjoyed the adrenaline rush of that, but I've found as I've gotten older I'm learning that what I 
like about veterinary medicine is seeing  the family with the patient as a puppy or a kitten, and getting to be there their whole life and watching that bond develop between pet and owner. In hospital settings that gets lost.”
    The opportunity to open her own practice came a little earlier than Stuart had planned, with both her children under three years old when the clinic first opened its doors.
   “A lot of the decision was about them. I wanted a place where I could bring them in with me if I needed to and have them feel comfortable,” she says, noting she's had a playroom built at All Paws for her children. “When I was thinking of opening my own clinic, my husband and I had always planned on waiting until
they were school-aged, but when this place became available it just felt right.”
    The first year of business at All Paws has presented a steep learning curve for Stuart, who says the most challenging element has been things she never thought of as an employee.
    “Just things like payroll, or equipment maintenance, or ordering supplies-- when you're working for someone else, you don't think about them,” she says, “but I've been fortunate to have a lot of support from my family and a great staff.”
   While All Paws may just be getting off the ground, it's already expanding. In October 2011, the clinic took on a second vet, Dr. Christine Harrold, and this winter Stuart will begin classes in veterinary acupuncture, something she hopes will complement her traditional western practice. And while she's determined to keep business at a pace that allows her quality time with patients, she might have trouble given the demand from Yukoners seeking the best care for their animals.
    “The bond between owners and their pets is amazing,” she says of her patients and their families. “We tend to see more dogs than cats, and the bond between Yukoners and their dogs, in particular, is so incredible to see, whether it's someone with one dog or a musher out at 40 below with a whole team. Getting to be a part of that is one of the really exciting things about my job.”


Harper Street Publishing
Box 141
Carcross, Yukon Y0B 1B0

We're on the Tagish Road!


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software