Have any questions? (403) 615-8016 info@dekensvet.ca

Dekens Housecall Veterinary Services

Meet Our Team


Dr. Dirk Dekens, DVM - Owner

I was only six years old when I proclaimed to my parents and family that I wanted to become a veterinarian. I didn’t live on a farm nor did I have any exposure to the “field of animal medicine”. Nevertheless I always fostered a keen interest and thirst for knowledge about nature and animals in general. We didn’t have any cats, dogs or large animals but my dad had built a small aviary which, to my delight, housed a variety of song birds, quails, guinea pigs and two beautiful “striped tree squirrels”, which I aptly named Jeff and Josephine. The quails laid eggs, the guinea pigs multiplied as guinea pigs do , but to everyone’s delight Jeff and Josephine also surprised us with four healthy baby squirrels. The miracle of life was unfolding right in front of us. Needless to say I was in my element!

The only thing that was missing, in my mind at least, was the ability, like Dr. Doolittle, to talk to the animals. Later on, of course, I learned that animals have their own ways to communicate with each other and with us, they just do it differently. The rest, as they say, is history.

I went to vet school in Ghent, Belgium and graduated with a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine in 1986. I owned a small and exotic animal practice in Ghent offering both in clinic and housecalls for my clients but decided to take the big move and emigrated to Canada in 1989. My career since has been varied and stimulating as I worked in a variety of veterinary clinical and surgical settings.

Highlights for me have been my work as an emergency veterinarian at the now closed Calgary Animal Emergency Clinic for about 3 years and an 8 year full-on commitment as the first full time veterinarian hired by the Calgary Humane Society. I also co-founded and owned Sit Happens! Companion Dog Training, a force-free and reward based dog training school in Calgary.

My interests in veterinary medicine revolve around animal welfare, ethical issues in veterinary medicine and the importance of the human animal bond. My greatest pleasure has been and continues to be the interactions with my clients and their nonhuman companions as I travel from home to home. Maybe I do have a bit of a Dr. James Herriot inside of me. :)

Dr. Ya-Guang Zhao, DVM

My story is a story of health care tradition involving my family for many generations.  I was born in a small town in mainland China, my father is director of the local animal hospital, my mother is a pharmacist and both their families have been involved in health from a traditional and modern standpoint for many generations.

Growing up in this environment, I knew from a young age that healing was what I wanted to do.  I am fascinated by the mysteries of diseases and have seen amazing results solved by both Eastern and Western medical therapies.  During my education, I focused on both Western and Eastern (acupuncture/herbs etc.) medical treatments.  My interest in “medical mysteries” was well entrenched and I spent part of my career at the University of Calgary, studying how a benign virus may be useful in cancer therapies, achieving PhD in the Faculty of Medicine.  I have come full circle now, and am back to the family tradition of veterinary medicine.

I like to treat pets in a holistic and natural way. This is why I chose Dekens Housecall Veterinary Services. We have the same concepts about pet care, natural food, natural treatment and natural handling. I look forward to learning and applying an integrated approach to veterinary medicine.

Dr. Veronica Devall, DVM - Integrative Veterinary Rehabilitation and Pain Management

My early years were spent on a farm outside a small town in northeast Alberta where my love for all animals developed. As a child I couldn’t get enough of puppies, kittens and anything that stood a little too still. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a veterinarian and to this day I cannot imagine being anything else. There is something to be said about “do what you love.” 

I started my career as an emergency, critical care veterinarian, which turned into a relief (locum) practitioner so I could indulge in my other love, travelling. Over the last half of my veterinarian career, I have pursued specialties in pain management, veterinary rehabilitation and holistic medicines such as acupuncture, herbals and chiropractic. By January 2018, I will have a boarded specialty in Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.

I have been actively involved in canine sports medicine over the years by volunteering and teaching at sled dog races and agility sporting events, which has finely tuned my veterinary skills. My last trip was to Russia to treat and teach about care of the sporting dog.  My passion is treating our aged, injured and debilitated canine and feline companions and heroes. It is my goal to break the cycle of maladaptive pain, restore, maintain and promote my patient’s optimal function and movement, optimal fitness, wellness and quality of life and have some fun in the process.

My family consists of my boy buddy Elim, an 8 year old Siberian Husky, and 3 very energetic and mostly good cats, Mahout, Ratti and Sidd. We recently had to say goodbye to our Willow, she was a beautiful 17 ½ year old Siberian Husky! Yes, I love seniors and so much can be done for them to keep them mobile and happy for years.  My animal family keeps me grounded and they give me the focus and energy to help my patients. I look forward to meeting you and your animal family.

Dr. Anja Reinshagen, DVM 

I wanted to be a veterinarian as long as I can remember. Moving to Calgary was another one of my dreams I fulfilled. I am a dog AND cat person - call me wild!

I love helping people to get the best care for their furry friends, and figuring out what is best in each situation and appointment anew has kept me interested in my passion. I have been a veterinarian in Calgary, AB for over 20 years, covering vacation leave for other veterinarians for 10 years (locum).  I also love the mountains, skiing, hiking, and knitting for the entertainment of my cat.


Customer Care 

Louise Bush - Office Manager

From an early age, I was saving earthworms from certain death on the sidewalks, rescuing critters and generally dragging anything home that would follow me (much to my mom’s chagrin!).  I begged and pleaded for anything furry, scaley or feathered.

I got my first "very own" dog when I was 12, a little black terrier mix named Bandit,  from what was at the time, the Calgary Humane Society.  That little rescue dog lived to be 19 years old helped me to grow up and taught me a lot about loving and sharing your life with a pet.

My early career took me into the oil and gas industry in Calgary after having graduated from SAIT’s Petroleum Engineering Program.  During this 17 years or so, I filled my need for animal involvement with my own pets, including dogs, cats, turtles, snakes and fish!

The truth about what I wanted to “be” when I grew up, hit me when I stayed home to raise my two boys.  My love of animals got me involved with a cat boarding kennel and we fostered puppies for ARF and I knew that I needed to be working with or for animals in some capacity.  I have a huge interest in integrative medicine and am very excited to be a part of the team at Dekens!

My life is full with a wonderful husband of 26 years, 2 sons, 2 dogs (Murphy and Bailey) and 3 cats (Charlie, Nacho and Stanley).  I love being with my family, movies, reading, camping and mountains.  I look forward to helping our human and furry clients alike!

Pamela Porosky, CTMT, CSMT - Customer Care Representative

A love and passion for working with animals was instilled and encouraged from an early age, between growing up with two very sociable siamese cats, and the summers and weekends spent at my grandparents’ ranch in Manitoba. 

My initial career path was in media, after graduating from SAIT Polytech’s Journalism Arts program; and, although I worked as a writer and photographer for over a decade, I continued to pursue volunteer and educational opportunities in animal care, donating my free time to local rescues where I assisted with everything from cat grooming to dog training, and ultimately opened my home to a number of unforgettable foster animals. I have also been able to share my journalistic background through stories and pictures, capturing the lovable and unique personalities of those pets waiting for adoption. 

I began studying complementary animal therapies in 2009. After completing the first level of Usui Reiki therapy, and experiencing first hand the benefits it had in helping promote and maintain the overall health and well-being of my own pets and the shelter animals I volunteered with, I was hooked. I received the certification of Reiki Master in 2010 before undertaking an education in canine massage through the Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure in Massage (RMSAAM). I graduated from the programs of Canine Therapeutic Massage and Canine Sports Massage in 2011, and completed RMSAAM’s course on Essential Oils and Aromatherapy for Animals that same year. I am passionate about continuing education and have taken additional coursework in advanced canine stretching techniques, animal behaviour and body language, feline massage, geriatric massage, and flower essences, as well as advanced studies in animal Reiki. 

My home just wouldn’t be the same without Ash, Sophie, Chubbs, Scotty and Tabitha -  the two dogs and three cats I share it with.

Merissa Wilkinson - Customer Care Representative

I have been working in the animal industry for over 10 years, learning a great deal about animal behaviour and nutrition. Most recently, I worked as a boarding supervisor at a local pet daycare and boarding centre that had a hospital attached to it. At this centre, they housed dogs and cats that had separation anxiety, geriatric patients, and patients recovering from a variety of surgeries which allowed me to learn more about veterinary medicine. I looked into many different methods of treatments to help the patients and their owners in order to make the animals’ boarding stays as smooth as possible.

In the past two years, I have taken a special interest in hospice and palliative care for animals and how to better help clients during these times. I also work part time at Pet Heaven to gain more knowledge in hospice and palliative care on all fronts.

I am extremely excited to be a part of the Dekens Housecall Veterinary team, to share my knowledge, and learn more.

Marketing & Bereavement Services

Darlene Vandevenne, MSW, RSW - Marketing and Bereavement Services

Many of my fondest memories have involved animals. The horse on my brother’s farm that I rode as a young girl, the cats and the first dog my children grew up with, and the many hamsters and guinea pigs we cared for over the years. I feel grateful to have shared my life with all these animals.

I strongly believe in the human-animal bond and I feel that my life has been richer for having had all these animals around. Now, I share my life with my husband Dirk Dekens, and our little dogs, Cayenne and Chai. Like children, they all have such different personalities and they all have such different interests. I have learned so much from them; for example, how accepting my dogs are and how quick they pick up on my body language when trying to navigate an agility course! I have also learned the importance of play and how it is good for both of us. I could not imagine a life without companion animals.

In working alongside Dirk through Dekens Housecall Veterinary Services, I have seen the tremendous bonds people have with their animals, as well as the pain when faced with a difficult diagnosis or end of life decision. I have experienced firsthand the struggle to make decisions about palliative care and end of life issues with our own dogs and know how important it is to feel understood. As Dirk has been known for providing compassionate home euthanasia’s, I saw a need to offer supportive counselling to our clients around these difficult decisions.

As a professionally trained clinical social worker with over 20 year of experience counselling children and adults with chronic illness, trauma and loss, I saw an area where I could give back to the community. I am here to offer support and grief counselling to ensure that our clients and their companion animals receive the care and compassion they need and work towards a respectful closure.

In my free time I enjoy doing agility with my little dog Chai, cycling, hiking in the mountains, traveling and spending time with friends.

Training and Behaviour Services 

Elaine Powell, KPA CPT - Training Coordinator & Customer Care Representative

I’ve always had a love for animals, even when I didn’t have one of my own as a pet.  I used to ask my sister all the time if I could take care of her dog whenever she was out of town.  Our house has always been pet friendly and I encouraged my friends to bring their dogs over when they wanted to visit.  My pets have consisted of a hamster, fish, birds and dogs. 

My love of animals and need to see well-adjusted and behaved animals had me seeking out training courses and then I became a trainer myself!   I fell in love with clicker training and positive reinforcement when I took my dog Gauge to classes many years ago.  I started my training career by volunteering at a dog training school for many years and started teaching classes in 2015.  I love seeing the “light bulb” moments handlers and their dogs experience.  I have worked with dogs for over 7 years training, walking and boarding and have a passion for educating people on body language.

I am a graduate of the Karen Pryor Academy Puppy Start Right for Instructors Program and Dog Trainer Professional Program.  I also hold membership in the CAPPDT (Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers). 

I share my life with my wonderful husband of 21 years and our rescue pup Diesel, and in my spare time love camping, reading books on dog training, travelling and spending time with friends and eating good food.

What Our Clients Say