He may first appear to be a man of few words. Get to know him better and you will see the limitless knowledge he carries within. And a big genuine heart that wins over colleagues, clients and patients. In the words of his team mates at Mount Pleasant (Farrer), this man is patient, reliable, humble yet comical. He is not just a colleague but a counsellor, father figure, living encyclopaedia and Captain America! Happy Father’s Day Cary!
Our parents influence not only our life journeys but possibly the journeys of our children. If there is one lesson we can impart to our kids and them to their kids, let it be “Families stick together. We look out for one another.” Congratulations Joel on your first baby to come – Happy Father’s Day!
Why do you choose to work with animals?
I have various animals since young. From fishes, rodents, dogs to cats, birds, turtles. I have reared chickens, goats, cows and pigs back in the Philippines too. The feeling that animals project towards me is very satisfying. They teach me to be patient and caring. I also learn to be an innovative and analytical thinker to make their lives more comfortable.
Brian Herbert once said “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice”. I believe education is a continuous process. It does not stop at the four corners of our school but rather, every day is a learning experience.
What are the important lessons from your father that will help you be a good dad?
I have a very religious family and we are inculcated since young to be family-oriented. My father taught me a bible verse that stayed with me while I was growing up: Proverbs 22:6 says “Teach your children right from wrong and when they are grown, they will still do right.”
Being the eldest child, my father always says I am responsible for my siblings while they are away. I take this task very seriously. I learnt a lot from keeping my siblings in line and teaching them the right ways in life.
To moms, the bell of happiness must sound like children laughing. And perhaps snoring (peace)! Today we celebrate Dr Clara Chua from Mount Pleasant (Changi) who beams with joy and pride of motherhood. Happy Mother’s Day Dr Clara. Cheers to caffeine!
Why did u choose to be a vet?
I was given 6 chicks when I was 12. They were my first pets. Raising them, I felt empathy for animals. It was then that I decided I wanted a career working with animals. And became vegetarian too!
What is the greatest joy and challenge at work?
I’m most happy when sick pets who are brought in become better. Helping our patients improve and making their owners happy makes me happy. Conversely, when our patients don’t improve despite our best efforts to treat them and we start questioning whether they are suffering in spite of what we are doing – emotionally, it’s a hard situation to be in.
What is the toughest part of being a working mom?
Coping with lack of sleep – just gotta up the caffeine! I’m fortunate to be able to work part-time so I get to spend more time with my daughter in her early years. I’m also fortunate to be able to leave her with my family on my work days. The rest of the time, my husband helps me out whenever he can.
what is your sweetest memories of motherhood?
Emma’s laughter is the sweetest thing! She’s not a ticklish baby so we really enjoy those rare moments when she finds something that is funny and laughs.
any advice for young married women?
Have children whilst you’re young. The fountain of youth will help cope with reduced hours of sleep and a strong healthy body helps with carrying (the equivalent of) a sack of rice for extended periods of time!
The best kind of mommies care for all kinds of babies! This week, we catch up with some of our Super Moms at Mount Pleasant. Happy Mother’s Day, Hai Ning!
what’s the toughest part of being a working mom?
Lethargy! I’m basically working 24/7. After I knocked off from my day job at Mount Pleasant (Clementi), I start my second job as mummy to 2 young kids. Receiving help from my family and close friends really eases my burden.
what is your sweetest memories of motherhood?
When my son wanted to pat me to sleep instead of me patting him to sleep! I think that’s a very sweet gesture.
What advice would you give young women?
Marry someone who is a hands-on hubby and will share your burden, in terms of household chores and taking care of kids. It will really lighten your workload.
On behalf of our big Mount Pleasant family, we wish Concordia and all vet techs and nurses around the world – HAPPY NATIONAL VET TECH WEEK. Thank you for all your hard work, strong stomachs and big loving hearts!
“Being with animals has always been a part of my life. Back home, we had dogs and cats. I helped to clean the small house of our chickens and feed them before school. Fattening the pigs in our backyard, 5 goats and cattle reared by another farmer.
I enjoyed watching them grow. When they were sold as food animals, I sometimes became reactive and emotional.”
Watch this space as we feature some of our vet techs, nurses and admin staff this month!
They say dads are a daughter’s first love. And a son’s first hero. This weekend, we send our highest regards to all fathers and celebrate the ever youthful Dr Simon Quek who shows us the best way to teach our children is to lead by example. Breathing the values of commitment and perseverance. Running after your dreams. And never letting go of your wife’s hand. Happy Father’s Day!
from showing to healing
Dr Quek was showing dogs at dog shows during his teenage years. After junior college, he made up his mind to be a veterinarian.
pillar of support
A career as a veterinarian takes up a lot of time and energy. It is hard work and heart work, which you can’t just leave at your desk at the end of a day. To remain in this vocation – and not sink into compassion fatigue – family support is very important.
“I have a fantastic wife who understands that the working hours of my job can be unpredictable. She doesn’t make a fuss if I get held up.”
work hard for your dreams
When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son. Dr Quek believes in working hard for your dreams and also appreciates the beauty of failure.
“They need to learn how to fail because it is in failing that you learn to pick yourself up.”
What better way to foster a never-give-up spirit than practising a sport or musical instrument?
Besides treating animals, Dr Quek loves to capture birds – on camera.
“6 years ago, I saw a friend’s bird photographs and said ‘Wow! How can I be missing out on all these amazing birds.’ I bought a second hand 500mm lens, took my first bird photos and got hooked.”
Some of Dr Quek’s spectacular photos have been featured in calendars to raise funds for charity
you can do it
Whatever you put your mind to, at whatever age, you can do it. Although Dr Quek jokes that taking part in Ironman is due to mid life crisis, it shows the level of determination and fighting spirit in him.
“I’m currently taking part in half Ironman races. I participate to complete, not compete.”
“Just as in Ironman races, you need to pace yourself in life and career. Strike a balance between work, family and hobbies, otherwise you might just burn out.”
The hospital is one of the toughest places to work in.
We do our best for our patients. We make the kindest decisions for those we cannot save. We grieve with a family who just lost their old friend. We laugh with a couple who got a new kitten.
We feel all kinds of emotions but cannot get too emotional.
I guess that’s what it means to “tough it out”. No matter what the weather. Or how you feel. We wake up every morning to do the things that need to be done.
when did you join the mount pleasant family?
When I was younger, I always brought my pets to the vets at Mount Pleasant. After graduating from Otago Polytechnic (New Zealand), I was offered a job in a vet clinic. A year later, in 2011, I joined Mount Pleasant and have never left!
What makes me stay? Definitely the team I’m working with. The best part is making some really good friends, learning from my team mates and being able to do so much more for our patients.
Working in a vet clinic can be very emotional. How do you cope?
Usually I’ll cry when it comes to coping with loss or helplessness or when I’m feeling extremely frustrated. I need to get it out of my system before I can think straight. I try to look at things from all directions and make sense of it. To de-stress, I surf the internet with my cats lying around or on me!
have you always wanted to work with animals?
From the time I was 16, I knew what I want to do when I grow up. It was either F&B, sports (I was a runner in my school days) or animals. I eventually chose animals because I couldn’t see myself in sports or F&B when I get older.
If I could be anything in the world, I would be a surgeon. I enjoy the adrenaline rush!
do you remember your very first pet?
Coffee joined our family when I was just 3. We grew up together. After my elder sisters left Singapore to study in New Zealand, Coffee and I grew even closer. I loved Coffee a lot. It was really hard when I had to let her go. She was a huge part of my childhood. I don’t think I can ever find another dog like her.
Do you consider yourself brave?
I think being brave is to choose and be so sure about what you want to do in life.
The good thing about me (sometimes the down side too) is that I can be extremely patient. Life is tough. That’s just how it is. I do not waste time sulking or complaining. When things are rough, I will tough it out till it is over.
As they say, “tough times never last, tough people do”. We hope Mabel will “tough it out” with our Mount Pleasant family for many many more years to come!
Meet the rest of the family at Mount Pleasant Central Veterinary Clinic (Whitley)!
Looking after children and pets is a lot of hard work. But not an impossible task. Dr Chan Mun Ling shares her personal experiences, benefits of having pets, managing allergies and the life lessons children learn when we keep our promises, even when the going gets tough.
Because pets are family. And families stay together.
Keeping a pet is big decision that impacts the entire family. It is a commitment to care for and love your pets for the rest of their lives. The most common pets that kids grow up with are dogs, cats, rabbits and rodents.
GROWING UP WITH A PET HAS NUMEROUS BENEFITS
- By including your children in the daily care of your pet like feeding, walking and bathing, they learn responsibility, empathy and compassion.
- The emotional bonding helps to increase a child’s confidence and improve social skills with people.
- Having outings to exercise a dog improves our fitness and builds a stronger family bond.
- Going to the vet together as a family can be an educational and meaningful experience.
- It is always sad to see a family grieve over the loss of a beloved pet but it does teach children about mortality and to accept loss in life.
SOME STUDIES SHOW THAT KIDS GROWING UP WITH PETS HAVE A LOWER INCIDENCE OF ALLERGIES
There are allergy-triggering proteins called allergens in an animal’s fur, dander (skin flakes) and saliva. Signs of allergies include itchy watery eyes, rashes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, or wheezing. Even if your children are not sensitive to allergens, good personal and environmental hygiene must be maintained at all times.
- Groom and shower your pets regularly. Dogs and cats can be bathed once a week to reduce airborne allergens.
- Keep your dog’s and cat’s fur coat short to reduce dander and allergens in the environment.
- Vacuum and mop the floor frequently.
- Invest in a good air purifier with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
- Wash pet beds, rugs, pillows, blankets frequently, preferably in hot water.
- If your children are sensitive to pet allergens, keep pets off furniture and out of bedrooms. If your dog/cat already has a favourite spot on the couch, cover that area with a cloth which you can wash easily.
- Remove soft toys, carpets and excess furniture which trap dust and dander. Declutter!
- Make sure your children wash their hands with soap and water after playing with their pets.
- Some clients who are allergic to their cat have opt to surgically remove the cat’s anal glands as this reduces the allergens markedly. Allergic reaction to that particular cat usually reduces dramatically although this differs from person to person.
ALWAYS SUPERVISE YOUR CHILDREN WHEN THEY ARE AROUND ANIMALS
Some kids might be overly rough or clumsy around animals. It is unfair to expect our pets to endure poking, pulling or screaming from children. Even the most good-natured pet can react by biting or scratching in self-defence if they are handled poorly.
- Always supervise your children closely when they are around animals. Never leave them alone.
- Some animals do not like to be picked up, hugged or kissed. Others may not mind at all. Know your pets well so you can teach your children to interact gently and appropriately with them.
- Rabbits and rodents are physically delicate and sensitive creatures. Handle them for short periods of time.
- Make sure your pets have somewhere quiet to retreat to when they want to be left alone.
With thanks to contributors for valuable information and photos:
Dr Chan Mun Ling, Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Bedok), Dr Ng Yi Lin, Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East), Mabel Cheah, Mount Pleasant Central Vet Clinic (Whitley), House Rabbit Society Singapore, Stephanie Monckton, Mami Naka.