Living in Danforthia

Chapter 4: Vetting the Neighbourhood

By Kayla Calder

Pardon the pun, as this entry is not at all referring to critically examining the Danforth. It is instead a story about how one Danforth animal hospital saved my roommate (and life partner of sorts, if I am to accept my impending spinsterhood) in classic Danforth style.

Moving to a new city is a daunting feat. You have to change your phone number, learn to navigate a new transit system, and try not to be intimidated by your surroundings. The last thing on my mind was finding a new vet for my recently adopted cat, Gatsby; a fat and by all counts unfriendly ball of fur, and an entertaining creature I hold quite dearly to my heart. Having only adopted him a year ago, he had never shown any signs of health issues, so I figured I would look into finding him a vet closer to his yearly check up. That was until, only a few days before Christmas, he developed a serious UTI and was spending his time in pain.

Being a new pet owner, I instantly panicked. How does one treat a feline UTI? You can’t feed a cat cranberry juice, after all. I began frantically calling local animal hospitals, but the prospects were slim. It being a Saturday, and one so close to Christmas at that, many clinics were booked up or closed, and I was too far in a frenzy to stop and consider going to an emergency vet. I spoke to the receptionist at Blue Cross, and she certainly heard the panic in my voice. Despite having a full day ahead of them, she found a way to get Gatsby into the clinic that day.

I coerced him into the blanket-lined cat carrier, and made my way out into the rain to hail a taxi. Any pet owner will know how quickly you can turn into a hypochondriac the moment your animal counterpart shows signs of illness. The questions running through my mind (Is it too late? Did I not notice how long this was going on? Will he die?) immediately stopped the minute I entered the doors of the clinic. The staff working at reception was trying hard to instill a sense of calm in the lobby. While simultaneously chatting with people and showing love to all the pets awaiting their examinations, I was informed that the amazing lady I’d spoken to on the phone had not only gotten me into the clinic at the last minute, but had already contacted my former vet in Ottawa to have Gatsby’s information sent over. It was like a breath of fresh air having someone I barely knew so willing to help.

This feeling of appreciation only grew as I took Gatsby – who was downright terrified at this point – into the examination room to be looked over by Dr. Jeff Grams. Now, I should interject to let readers know that the dream of meeting a handsome Australian veterinarian is not entirely foreign to me (or any other 23-year-old Canadian woman), but what is realistically the most appealing aspect of this doctor is how patient and thorough he proved to be with both me and my irritable ball of fur. I can hear people groaning as they read this, saying “of course he’s patient and thorough. He’s a vet.” But this wasn’t your classic “good guy veterinarian” situation. Dr. Grams went above and beyond to make sure that I understand exactly what was wrong with Gatsby, and how it could be rectified.

This wasn’t, by any means, preferential treatment. Even though they didn’t know me from Eve, the staff and especially Dr. Grams put an impressive amount of effort into making sure that Gatsby was taken care of and that I was comfortable. This speaks volumes about how the clinical staff as a whole treats any two-legged and four-legged being that walks (or is carried) through their door. They instantly become family, and rather than trying to gouge people for unnecessary procedures – many vets seem so inspired by auto-shops these days – the team at Blue Cross Animal Hospital genuinely wants nothing more than to take care of you and your pet.

In a city where self-indulgence creeps around every corner, it is this continuing desire for inclusivity that helps the Danforth stand out. While the community has its flaws like any would, those who live, work, and conduct business on the Danforth invest daily in extending their arms to wrap around the Danforth in a massive group hug. I can’t help but think about the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” The phrase can be easily manipulated to fit Danforthian culture: it takes a village to raise a village. Every person on the avenue plays an integral part in making this neighbourhood feel like a massive family, and that is exactly how I felt the moment I walked into Blue Cross, when listening to the voicemail Dr. Grams left while checking up on Gatsby, and how I continue to feel to this day.

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