Dr. Jim Turpel


Like chapters out of a James Herriot book it seems every great story in my life has involved pets in one way or another. I was the young boy in the veterinary office who was more distraught by the goings on in the appointment than his pets. I would often times have to leave the appointments because I would get very upset, thinking the veterinarian was not kind or understanding enough towards our very cute but equally stubborn basset hounds, Lightning, Huckelburry and Gwendelynne, or our somewhat unmanageable orange tabby cat Charlie.

For as long as I can remember I have always been concerned over not only the physical discomfort that pets may have experienced but also the anxieties that they may feel. A love of animals and an inherent drive in my life to try and minimize discomfort and anxieties that pets and their human families around them may experience culminated in a determined young man pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.

Growing up and entering adult hood I adopted a wonderful Newfie Setter cross, Stryder. At the time I was a student at the Ontario Veterinary College, and due to lack of funds was living in a tent in a friends’ backyard. The running joke among my classmates was that I adopted Stryder because the fall nights were cooling off and I needed him to keep me warm. Stryder and I were inseparable for 12 wonderful years and I still cherish all the time I had with him. He spent a great deal of time sitting quietly beside me in lectures at the college (partly because he tore through two tents when I left him alone). We hiked through the green mountains of Vermont, hitchhiked around the maritime provinces, treeplanted in northern Ontario for a number of summers (again putting up with living in a tent) to finance my veterinary education and spent innumerable hours just enjoying each others company. Since Stryder, I have had the good fortune of having numerous pets over the years. Homer, Bubba, Petunia, Norman, Avatar, Lionheart, Bert, Walter Simon and most recently Blue. Each pet has enriched my life through their unique personalities and I carry fond memories of all of them. They have all taught me a great many lessons: be loyal, live in the moment, don’t hold a grudge, enjoy and cherish the little things, and be happy. I wish everyone, especially young children, can experience the wonders and joy that sharing your life with a pet can provide. An elderly gentleman client once told me that he had found the answer to happiness- “be like a dog- wag your tail a lot, lick a lot of faces and always leave room for dessert”.

As good luck would have it my love for pets brought me to the veterinary college where I met the love of my life and who also happened to be a fellow veterinary classmate, Elizabeth McGill. We married prior to graduation and have been blessed with a wonderful life together. We have two incredible children Edith and Forest who provide us with the enormous joys that parenting can provide (be assured this is no fantasy and we still experience our fair share of trials and tribulations). Raising children, whether it be the furry type or human certainly adds a new dynamic into ones lives. We are extremely thankful for all we have received and try to live our lives in a way that reflects how appreciative we are. On a closing note: live life to its fullest, laugh hard, and continue to be amazed and inspired by the simple things that this world has to offer; in short be like a child or for that matter, as my gentleman client suggested, a happy dog.

For more information and background on Dr. Turpel and his orthopedic surgeries, visit Upper Canada Animal Hospital.

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Serving St. Catharines and Niagara Region