About Our Team: Danielle

I’ve provided compassionate care in the pet industry with my educational and professional background working with domesticated and exotic animals for over 15 years.

I am a lifetime animal handler of many different companion animals, including exotic and non-traditional pets, and livestock beginning as a small child. I’ve always had an affinity with animals.

I’ve worked on a prestigious equine breeding farm, in veterinary clinics as a Certified Veterinary Assistant, and I’ve gained the fundamental skills needed to effectively triage and assist veterinary professionals in the practice of veterinary care and science.

I’ve worked in pet stores caring for many different species following specific feeding and cleaning protocols, while also maintaining knowledge on products pertinent to their care.

I then ventured on my own and opened my grooming salon where all pets, not just dogs, were welcomed. In a trade that is unregulated, I prevailed as a lifelong student personally committed to ever expanding my skills, incorporating state of the art equipment and using only the best quality products. I worked diligently to provide pets with a positive, gentle and personal grooming experience with both extensive knowledge and experience.

Throughout my career, I have worked with many dogs with special needs, but perhaps the most complex case of them all has been my own – my heart and soul dog – Sheepdog Riggs. The true inspiration at times for honing my skills, and restructuring my business in order to honour his legacy as Soul Dog Synergy.

In 2017, faced with an arduous eight-month journey to uncover a diagnosis for my cherished companion, Riggs, an Old English Sheepdog, I navigated the complexities of his health challenges—a Hepatopathy with a secondary copper toxicity disease: micronodular hyperplasia, dissecting fibrosis and cirrhosis. This profoundly personal experience propelled me toward a commitment to furthering my education.

Confronted with a myriad of responses ranging from uncertainty to disheartening indifference, I persevered in advocating for Riggs, grappling with the emotional toll of navigating an intricate medical landscape for my beloved “heart dog.” The challenges encountered during this journey became a catalyst for my pursuit of knowledge and expertise in the realm of veterinary health.

Motivated by the resilience and love I shared with Riggs, I have honed my skills to contribute meaningfully to the field of veterinary science. My dedication extends beyond personal experiences, and I am driven to empower others facing similar challenges with compassionate and informed care. Through continuous education and a commitment to enhancing the well-being of animals, I aspire to make a lasting impact in the lives of both pets and their devoted caregivers.

Driven by the profound responsibility I felt for Riggs, I embarked on a journey of self-education about his complex medical condition. Confronting the lack of awareness and support surrounding Riggs’ rare health issues, coupled with the absence of guidance at the time of his diagnosis, I realized that gaining knowledge was not only imperative for informed decision-making in his care but also for connecting with the right professionals who could offer assistance.

Faced with the rarity of Riggs’ condition and the challenges encountered in seeking help, the decision to return to school became inevitable, despite the inherent uncertainties. This educational pursuit proved instrumental in enhancing my understanding of our concerns and ultimately guided us through Riggs’ unique health journey. As Riggs peacefully passed away just shy of 14 years from unrelated causes, I felt a sense of fulfillment, knowing that I had exhausted every avenue to ensure his well-being.

There are two primary objectives in treating copper storage disease in dogs: the removal of excess copper from the body and the prevention of future overconsumption. A crucial aspect of achieving these goals involves implementing a meticulously controlled diet. This dietary intervention is designed to limit the dog’s copper intake, facilitating the reduction of accumulated copper levels and supporting the overall management of the condition, thereby helping to reduce the accumulation of excess copper in the liver.

In my quest for knowledge and understanding of Riggs’ health challenges, I recognized the urgency of obtaining education on this intricate subject. While my initial foray into education may not have been from the most reputable sources (expanded upon below), the pursuit of learning remained paramount. At the time, the information gleaned proved invaluable in navigating the complexities of Riggs’ condition and making informed decisions about his care.

Despite the initial challenges and perhaps less-than-ideal circumstances surrounding my educational journey, the knowledge gained during that period has been a stepping stone for continuous learning. It served as a foundation, allowing me to build a more comprehensive understanding of copper storage disease and related canine health issues over time.

As I progressed in my educational endeavors, I sought reputable sources and furthered my understanding through formal channels. The ongoing commitment to learning has equipped me with a more robust knowledge base, ensuring that I stay well-informed and capable of making informed decisions in the best interest of my dog’s health. This ongoing educational journey has not only benefited me personally but has also enhanced my ability to contribute positively to the well-being of dogs facing similar health challenges.

Our animal companions, more than mere companionship, assume the role of silent teachers in our lives. Their well-being reflects our own, creating a reciprocal bond where their concerns echo ours, and ours theirs. As caretakers, our responses hold the power to shape their health. The human-animal bond is a delicate and profound connection, urging us to approach it with sensitivity and understanding.

 Synergistically Yours,
– Danielle & Sheepdog Riggs

Professional Summary

  • An enthusiastic pet specialist with over 20 years of experience in animal care
  • Experienced with various species
  • Passionate about promoting a high standard of animal health and well-being
  • Motivated by advancement opportunities and committed to professional development

Skills

  • Animal care
  • Medication administration
  • Bathing and grooming
  • Fundamentals of animal nutrition
  • Committed to professional development

We are committed to lifelong learning and professional development in the fast-paced changing field of animal nutrition and the pet industry. It is of particular importance to stay current, as well as an opportunity for advancement.

Education

Delivered by Dr. Gregg Takashima and Dr. Lisa Weeth

Discussing clinical cases of things that can go wrong when diets are incomplete for the individual animal; relating to the human/animal bond. The role of diet and the main purpose of food; to get nutrients into the body while evaluating traditional and non traditional diets.

Hosted by Dr. Charlotte Grey MA hons Vet MB MRCVS

Interpretation of formulating and auditing canine diets accurately based on science and appropriate guidelines. This course gives you an overview of canine nutrition and their nutrient requirements needed to accurately formulate recipes using food nutrient profiles, an online spreadsheet/software and nutrient guidelines (FEDIAF or NRC).

Hosted by Dr. Charlotte Grey MA hons Vet MB MRCVS

This course helped gain a deeper understanding of common causes of liver disease in dogs, common treatment options and dietary management.

Hosted by Jenny Ryoo with Better Cells the creator of RFN Spreadsheet

This course was a review of the basics of formulation for healthy, adult dogs.

Created by Savannah Welna, Cert. ACN, Cert. ACF, supported by veterinarians and nutrition professionals

Due to lack of support of nutritional guidelines being considered in previous nutrition programs, I enrolled to reinforce my knowledge already gained. This is a science based approach using appropriate nutrient guidelines of raw and homemade diets for companion animal feeding.

University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus

These courses are offered by Farm & Food Care’s IMPACT program, based on the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Livestock. They are nationally developed guidelines of farm animals in Canada and serve as an understanding of animal care to promote sound management and welfare practices for housing, care, transportation and other animal husbandry practices.

Academy of Natural Health Sciences

The final program following the cert. programs of canine and feline nutrition. This course further addressed nutrient requirements of companion animals. It is great for beginners as my knowledge of canine and feline anatomy, physiology, and diseases were reinforced. It lacks a science based approach, particularly for appropriately and safely balancing homemade and raw diet formulation and proper caloric calculations. Clinical nutrition for dogs and cats, including prescription diets, sports nutrition,  breed-specifications, herbs, supplements, and complementary therapies were taught. Further instruction was based upon herbology, homeopathy, drug, and supplement interactions while preventing nutrient depletion. Final evaluations were based on client health assessments, nutritional interpretations, legal guides, and counseling practicum.

Academy of Natural Health Sciences

This course offered a basic beginning of understanding feline nutrition, nutrients in a cat’s diet, commercial diet choices and alternatives and natural remedies. It had a focus on how to improve overall health and nutrition, particularly with homeopathic remedies and supplementation. It lacks a science based approach with evidence, particularly for appropriately and safely balancing homemade and raw diet formulation and caloric calculations.

Academy of Natural Health Sciences

This course offered a very basic beginning of understanding canine nutrition; nutrients in a dog’s diet, unique dietary needs, nutritional concepts, commercial diet choices and alternatives; loosely balancing homemade and raw diets, natural remedies, how to improve overall health and nutrition, homeopathic remedies and supplementation. It lacks a science based approach with evidence, particularly for appropriately and safely balancing homemade and raw diet formulation.

Hosted by ODGA Guest Speaker Dogs of Pride

DogPort Academy of Dog Grooming

Received a diploma of highest honours after successfully completing training in all breed pet dog grooming in order to become a professional dog groomer.

Veterinary Assistant Certification Program

Successfully gained the fundamental skills needed to effectively assist veterinary professionals in the practice of veterinary science to receive a diploma. I am also able to care for patients’ basic needs and perform receptionist duties.

Active Enrollment in Career Advancement & Affiliations

Delivered by Jerold Bell DVM – Chair of the WSAVA Hereditary Disease Committee

Exploring advances in veterinary genetics of dogs and cats; common genetic diseases and approaches we can take to alter the expression of genetic disease in predisposed animals. The course also covers genetic screening for pet and breeding animals and the different types of genetic tests now available. Discussion of the concepts and methods of genetic counseling for pet and breeding dogs and cats in order to improve the genetic health of animals through appropriate pre-breeding health screening and assessments.

This course was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Purina Institute.

Key aspects of WSAVA’s Global Nutrition Guidelines allow screening nutritional assessments and how to determine body and muscle conditioning scores. Extended evaluations and how to interpret the findings of nutritional assessments; while preparing and monitoring hospitalized and non- hospitalized pets. Frequently asked clinic questions are simulated.

This course was delivered by Dr Marie-Claude Blais during the WSAVA World Congress 2019 in Toronto, Canada.

Regularly attend workshops, summits, symposiums, seminars, and conferences pertinent to industry standards.

Professional and peer mentors in the veterinary field have allowed me to develop valuable transferable skills

Invested in different learning formats such as university continuing education programs (by course), authoritative and credible publications, videos, and lecture series.

I am proactive in continuing education as this asset greatly benefits our clients, as well as our fluency in our discipline. 

On a regular basis, not only have I received authoritative certification programs, but are involved in trusted programs with deeper knowledge more relevant to our practice.

Synergistically Yours,

Danielle

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