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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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Reports

Tuesday, 24 June 2003
Sudbury --> Espanola, Ontario, Canada

It was easy to get from Sudbury to my next western located small town Espanola. After breakfast with host Richard Malette, and a few games of pool in the downstairs pub in the house, my next hostess Dr. Cathy Priddle picked me up at the front door.


Cathy is a veterinary surgeon and in the car to Espanola, only a 35 minute drive through a sometimes bare or lightly replanted background, she told me all about her life in Espanola.

"I studied at the vet-school at the University of London in Southern Ontario."
"And what made you decide to live all the way here, in Northern Ontario?"
"There are not that many vets around here than in the south, so here I would be busier, more on the road and making more money. And yes, I made the choice for the money."
But that view had changed for Cathy. "I have survived a terrible car accident and that made me appreciate the value of life and I can't be bothered for the money again. I love animals and always wanted to be a vets and that's what I live for most."

There is no Mr. Priddle in her life. "Yet. I am 38-year-old (it was Cathy's birthday today!) and I am still happily single. It was pretty strange for the Espanola community when I came here in the nineties. If you are single at 38, something must be wrong with you. Some people thought I must be a lesbian then, haha!" I guess she is just the Bridget Jones of Northern Ontario, haha. "Okay, I confess, I am currently dating a guy from Sudbury, you never know what this Bridget makes out of this!" she said.

"]Espanola is a very small community where most people work at the local paper mill. There are many Catholics and the people here don't talk about birth control." I looked around the streets in Espanola and saw what she meant. "14-year-old kids hang around with each other and suddenly they get pregnant. There are so many pregnant teenagers around here, but not many people seem to care about."

When I asked how this could be possible, because can't they get the pill or use a condom? "The kids are too young to know anything about condoms and the pill is only prescribed with parental agreement, under age kids have no privacy at the doctor around here. And as the parents are strong Catholics, no pill enters their life."

Cathy read about my project in the National Post from a few weeks ago. She loved the idea behind it and welcomed me over to her 'animal farm' if that would help me on my travels towards the west coast.

In Espanola Cathy showed me her vet clinic and introduced me to her colleagues and dogs staying at the clinic. "I have planned a vacation for the entire week, because I have to go to a dog show in Toronto later on," she said.

Because next to being a veterinary surgeon, Cathy also breeds dogs and horses at her out of town little ranch. When we arrived there later this afternoon, Cathy introduced me to her five Pugs (those little dogs with those flat-smashed faces, hehe) and eight Rottweiler dogs (those perfect big guardian dogs).

When she got all the dogs from their boxes in the basement in the outside kennel, I didn't hesitate to just walk in there and greet those enthusiastic dogs. Cathy was very surprised that I just walked into that kennel with eight Rottweilers, because no other stranger of these dogs had ever done that before. And of course, nothing happened with me. The dogs were jumping up (I just had to watch them with that because of my great sun burned legs) and sniffed all over me to get to know me better.

Most of the dogs are show dogs, breed for people who like to show off their dog at dogs shows and to make a lot of money in prizes. And from what I heard from Cathy, they make some good money!

Her colleague Wanda, from the vet clinic, took both of us along for lunch at the local Cortina Restaurant (where they sure have never heard of decoration to make it look like a real restaurant), to celebrate Cathy's birthday today.

But back to her dogs.

Cathy advertises for her breeding business in the American Rottweiler magazine and gets good responses on it. Only lately, she seems to have bothered many Americans with the latest ad. "I ran a full page ad in the magazine, featuring the Rottweiler dog named Rumour, who comes from The Netherlands. So I made the slogan say: 'Rumour says if it ain't Dutch, it ain't much!' Guess what happened."
"What happened?"
"The magazine forwarded me complaints from American readers that were not happy with my unpatriotic statements in their Rottweiler magazine. Can you believe it? I should have been more considerate of Americans in my ads! Like the entire world should be about them!"

I could totally understand her little woe about this, because it is just pretty strange. I mean: to sacrifice time of your life to sit down and write this letter to the editor of that magazine because you are bothered by a slogan in an advertisement, tells me enough about how empty their lives must be.

Cathy made a big pasta salad and threw a few big pieces of chicken on the barbeque for dinner and she had rented the movie 8 Mile about that white Detroit-rapper Eminem, which we watched during the evening.

After the movie I settled myself at the dining table with my laptop. It was bloody hot inside and outside mosquitoes were waiting for anybody to visit their side to eat him raw. So I was pretty happy being hot inside and sweat away for your treasured reports. Bleh!

Good night Espanola!

Ramon