Comedian and CAT instructor Velina Taskov along with CAT alumni Brittany Hartfelder (both from the Veterinary Hospital Assistant program) are the comic minds behind a new podcast that irreverently captures the highs and lows of working in a veterinary clinic.
Above: Promo shot from ‘I Killed Your Dog’ podcast.
When did the podcast launch, and how did the idea come about?
Velina Taskov: The podcast launched Halloween 2020. We have been working on this idea for over a year now and we are thrilled to finally share it with the public. We found whenever you hang out with someone from the veterinary industry you inevitably end up talking ‘shop’, and that’s where the idea for the podcast sprung from.
Describe the podcast in one sentence?
VT: Comedy Veterinary Podcast. Comedian and Vet Technician, Velina Taskov and Vet Assistant Brittany Hartfelder host the “I Killed Your Dog Podcast”, where the only thing they kill is your perceptions of the veterinary industry.
Who does what on the show?
Brittany Hartfelder: I am the co-host of the podcast. While Velina organizes the interviews and edits the podcast, I correspond with our listeners and do promotional work on social media.
Velina, you are already a stand-up comic, so this makes perfect sense for you, but Brittany, how did you get involved in the project?
A deeper meaning of ‘I killed your dog’ is touching base on the mental health issues we have in this industry. We have high rate of suicide and “burn out” in vet medicine and we are ‘killing the little black dog of depression’ that can follow us around at times.”
BT: Velina was my instructor when I did the vet assistant program at CAT. She encouraged me to apply at the vet clinic we both work at currently, and we developed a close relationship full of banter.
What are you trying to achieve with the show?
VT: Many people think the veterinary industry is just cuddling puppies/kittens. Though we wish that was the case, its not.
We discuss what happens behind closed doors with some comic relief in an industry that is very demanding. We facetiously giggle at macabre stories and candidly discuss the foibles and rewarding work of Veterinary Medicine.
The name is supposed to be eye-catching but a deeper meaning of ‘I killed your dog’ is touching base on the mental health issues we have in this industry.
We have a high rate of suicide and “burnout” in vet medicine and we are ‘killing the little black dog of depression’ that can follow us around at times.
We do this by laughing at some of the most disgusting/sad/horrible things we have to deal with on a daily basis and supporting each other knowing we are going through the same pressures in vet medicine no matter where you live.
How big is your audience?
VT: Thus far we have around 7000+ downloads in over 20 countries and growing steadily. We are overwhelmed and excited by the support we are receiving. Though our target audience is those working in the animal industry, we are inclusive to people outside of the industry by often explaining medical conditions in layman’s terms.
How have people reacted to the podcast so far?
VT: 90% of people have been so positive and supportive.
On a weekly basis we have many people message us on our instagram page or email sharing their personal stories from the industry. Often people will tell us they listen to the podcast on the drive to and from work, discussing the topics we covered with their co-workers and sharing their own stories.
It has been wonderful feeling the camaraderie across the world and knowing we are all in this together especially during the pandemic.
What is it about the podcast that you think people especially enjoy?
We have some incredibly intense or sad moments in our industry… humor is a coping strategy for difficult moments.
BH: We like to think that we are befriending others through our podcast and that when they listen they feel like they are just hanging out with their other vet friends ‘shooting the shit’.
I think the most enjoyable thing is hearing stories from people’s personal experiences in the industry, and just the silly jokes we make about our demanding jobs. What we have enjoyed the most is the feedback and growth.
You are creating some edgy comedy, what do you see as the links between black humor and working in the vet industry?
VT: You need to have a dark sense of humor to survive in this industry otherwise you’ll be crying in the corner! I’m not exactly sure what the link is but honestly if you don’t laugh at some of the absurd things we have to deal with, we would be crying for sure.
Why do you think humor is so important for people working in the vet industry, period?
VT: Comedy is a coping mechanism for a highly emotional empathetic industry such as vet medicine.
BH: Often we have some incredibly intense or sad moments in our industry and I was told once ‘the only way to lower coffins into a grave is with humor’. Not saying that death is funny, it’s just that humor is a coping strategy for difficult moments.
Has there been any backlash so far, and what would you say to these people?
VT: We have had some people tell us they are put off by the name and/or picture. My personal view is, ‘just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right’.
Comedy is subjective and there is a lot of content out there that isn’t for everyone. If someone doesn’t like our podcast they can keep scrolling. I choose not to engage with negative feedback.
What are your long-term plans for the podcast?
VT: We would love to travel around the world interviewing different individuals in the veterinary/animal industry and potentially doing episodes at veterinary conferences.
We’re looking forward to seeing how the podcast develops in the future.
We cuss, we laugh and above all, we love animals.