• Kelley Post

Pet Related Choices

In our day-to-day family life, we make many choices for the health and well-being of our family. How much of an impact does your pet have on those choices? When you pick the home where you will reside, does it have to have a yard for the dog to run around? Do we bring in a second pet so the first pet has someone to play with? Do we exercise more so that they get to go for walks?


Salo and Kitkat. Photo: Collette and Nick VanBerkal

We caught up with Collette and Nick VanBerkal who live out in Victoria on Vancouver Island. The couple moved out to Victoria from Comox last summer and now enjoy living close to all three of their adult children.


Collette is a Warrant Officer in supply with the High Priority Request Cell. Collette is preparing to retire from the military on July 6/22 and go into public service.


Nick retired from reg force about 3 years ago and belongs to 1 Cad out of Winnipeg in Air Traffic Control and can work from home in Victoria.


The couple lives in a beautiful 2600-square-foot house on the side of a hill in Victoria that is just across from a green-space exercise park.


Collette and Nick just recently got a new puppy and a new kitten. Previously the couple had two senior cats Sydney and Lola. Sydney passed away at age 15 in January. Collette had always been a cat person, but now that it was time to think about getting a new pet. Collette knew how much Nick loved dogs. Now that Nick would be working from home, this would be a perfect time to bring a new puppy into their home.


In January, a beautiful golden doodle puppy was born in Duncan, BC, and on March/22 the couple was able to bring home this copper-colored little teddy bear. This new puppy is now 6 months old and is 37 lbs and is supposed to grow to 60 lbs. The family thought long and hard about what to name this new little family member. They are devout hockey fans and the two teams that are rivals in this home are the Oilers and the Canucks and it just so happens that on those two teams there are two players with the last name “Salo,” Collette also researched the meaning of the word Salo and it means “wooded Island.” Since the family just recently moved to Vancouver Island, the name was perfect!


The new little puppy, Salo, and the 16-year-old cat Lola were not a good match. Lola was really Madison, Nick and Collette’s daughter’s cat, so Madison took Lola home to live with her.


Nick and Collette decided to get a new kitten so that the young puppy and young kitten could grow up together. Collette has allergies to short-haired cats but does not have allergies to long-haired cats so finding the right kitten was not going to be easy. Finding long-haired rescue kittens on Vancouver Island is difficult and there is a long waiting list. It was probably going to take at least a year to find a suitable long-haired cat through a rescue. That would mean that the Salo would not have a buddy for that special first year to bond and play with, so the couple decided to buy a purebred Rag-doll long-haired kitten from a breeder in Vancouver. This kitten is white with a bit of grey and blue eyes. Naming the kitten has been a challenge but for now, she is “KitKat.”


Salo and Kitkat are enjoying being siblings and they love playing catch with a tennis ball. Kitkat’s personality is very much like that of a dog, and they are both full of energy. Nick enjoys the company in the house while he is working from home. Collette advised that there are no grandchildren in the family yet so these two new family members get a lot of attention. The couple takes Salo with them every chance they get.


When asked if their lifestyles had changed since they got the new pets, Nick replied, “Yes, cats were easy, dogs you have to plan ahead!” Collette states, “Pets add a new dimension to our lives that are really joyful.”


In this family, the well-being and happiness of the pets is very important as it adds to the calm, relaxing, enriched environment of Collette and Nick’s home so the pets do have a great impact on the choices this family makes.

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