It’s fall in the Yukon as Dr. Michelle Oakley preps for another brutal winter. Before the cold temperatures and snow kick in high gear, Michelle takes her middle daughter, Sierra, on a special road-trip to Alberta to show her in the ins and outs of being a vet at several wildlife parks in the area. But before they can hit the road, Michelle has to finish up a few appointments at her in-home clinic.
Frank the Tank
After an afternoon filled with local appointments, Dr. Michelle Oakley saves two very familiar faces for last. Frank, part Boston Terrier and part Pug, is the first-born pup of Dr. Oakley’s pug, Daisy May. His owner, “Fun Uncle” Trevor Miller, brings him in for his annual, physical appointment. Frank seems to be in good health although he does have one obvious problem—he’s a bit chunky. At only 2.5 years old, Frank is in for a new, low-calorie diet that doesn’t involve any more table scraps!
Good ‘Ole Nick
The only thing standing between Dr. Oakley and her week-long trip to Alberta is a field visit to an old horse named Nick, who seems to be having difficulty getting around. Nick, a local horse celebrity, lives off of a busy highway and greets people as they come by. His owner, Harriet Brouillette, is nervous that an old fracture may be hampering his ability to move around comfortably. With a harsh winter ahead, Dr. Michelle Oakley worries that Nick’s leg and arthritis may prohibit him from making it through another winter in the Yukon. Although strong in mind, Nick seems to have a number of systemic issues, making him weak in his body. As tough as it is, Dr. Michelle Oakley urges Harriet to keep Nick from suffering sometime before winter arrives.
With 1,500 miles to go, Dr. Michelle Oakley and her daughter, Sierra, are finally Alberta bound! This trip is a great opportunity for Sierra, who is interested in becoming a vet, to be exposed to a lot of different circumstances. Their first stop is the Discovery Wildlife Park, a 90 acre zoo with a number of fierce animals that need vaccines and physical appointments. Up first are two giant cats—a jaguar and a cheetah. It’s not always easy to vaccinate a 200-pound cat that isn’t a fan of needles, but Dr. Oakley makes the process quick and painless, a true sign of a seasoned vet!
Gruff the Orphan Cub
Still at the Discovery Wildlife Park, Dr. Oakley checks in on Gruff, an orphan bear with a raspy lung. Because Gruff was a little bit older than most orphaned cubs when he arrived, he is a bit more unpredictable and aggressive in nature than some of the younger bears at the park. The earlier that bears are exposed to human handlers, the easier it is to work with them and predict their movements. With no barrier between her and Gruff, Dr. Oakley has to be extremely cautious around him as one swipe of his claw could rip her arm open! Although he may be a bit wheezy at times, Gruff’s lung is okay and he will be able to live a full and healthy life.
Back at the Old Stomping Grounds
Next, Dr. Oakley and Sierra trek to The Calgary Zoo, Michelle’s old stomping grounds in her intern days! The Calgary Zoo is Canada’s most visited zoo and is home to over 700 animals. Dr. Oakley stops by to give Doug, her former boss and mentor, a hand with the baby meerkats. Eight baby meerkats need physical exams before they head off to their new home. Dr. Oakley learns how to tricky it is to draw blood from a meerkat, particularly when they’re very small and wiggly!
At the end of their trip, Dr. Oakley and Sierra head out for one last adventure with a research group from the University of Calgary, to collect samples of a bighorn sheep for an ongoing biology and behavior study that they’re doing. With thousands of acres to roam, finding a juvenile, un-tagged bighorn isn’t always easy. Luckily for Dr. Oakley, Sierra, and their vet-friend, Asa Fahlman, they spot a herd of bighorns in the distance and are able to sedate him with a blow-gun, which means they are one step closer to being on the cutting edge of bighorn sheep research.
For more adventures with Dr. Oakley, tune in to the season finale of Dr. Oakley: Yukon Vet: Winter is Coming, on Saturday, May 17, 2014.