Interview with Lyn T. Garson, CVT, CCRP, responder and rehabilitator

June 6, 2024
By Anne Marie Duquette
Featured image for “Interview with Lyn T. Garson, CVT, CCRP, responder and rehabilitator”

Anne Marie Duquette interviewed Lyn T. Garson, winner of the 2023 DWAA Writers Contest in the “Canine or All Animal Newspapers or Newsletters Articles or Columns--Any Topic” with “Healing at Twilight.”

View the Winning Entry

Congratulations on your win!  Tell us about your experience and expertise, and how this relates to your entry.  What target audience did you write for, and why?

Thank you!  I am so honored to be a recipient of a Maxwell Award. I’m a writer and a Certified Veterinary Technician with over 40 years of experience in this field.  I’ve spent the past 10 years as a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP), learning this specialty from the University of Tennessee School of Veterinary Medicine.

My article was a way to educate animal guardians about the significant health benefits of physical rehabilitation. Many pet guardians are unaware of these services, which can give their pets a better life.

My entry was published in Our Companions News, a newsletter based in Connecticut for an amazing non-profit animal organization called Our Companions Animal Rescue. Their sanctuary has a series of cottages on 47 acres of land in Ashford, with individual (no cage!) rooms for animals to live in a home-like environment while waiting for adoption.

Our Companions recently opened a brand-new physical rehabilitation facility on the sanctuary grounds.

How big a part have dogs played in your personal and professional life?  Was there a particular dog that sparked your interest in interacting with the public?  Tell us about this special dog, and/or the dogs in your contest entry.

Over the course of my adult life, five special dogs have found their way into my heart and home.  I fell in love with Sayble, a beautiful husky-shepherd mix on my first day of work in a veterinary hospital.  There was Branigan, a shepherd mix who lived a full active life to the age of  seventeen.  Jordan was a rambunctious shepherd who never slowed down, even at age thirteen.  And for ten years, Spencer was the star of an annual middle school “Career Day” program.  My current canine companion, Avery, is a trained hearing alert dog, and has literally saved my life more than once.

How big a part have people played in your association with dogs?  Family?  Friends?  Do you have any favorite writers?  How have they influenced your career?

Several authors influenced my animal writing life, and this may be hard to believe, but James Harriott is not one of them! Books by veterinarians Robert M. Miller and Rory C. Foster hold a special place on my bookshelf.  Veterinary technician Samantha Mooney’s classic, A Snowflake in My Hand, is my all-time favorite.

Gregory M. Simpson, whose award-winning column, “Sheltering An Animal’s Perspective,” not only inspired me as a reader, but also as a writer. One day, I contacted Gregory to inquire about the Cat Writers’ Association (CWA), as he was a member. Gregory’s reply contained both personal experiences and helpful information. To my surprise, he generously offered to read a sample of my work if I wished to apply for membership.  Soon after submitting my writing package, he replied with an extremely moving letter of recommendation for the membership committee. Thanks to Gregory’s sponsorship, I’ve been a member of CWA since 2008, the start of my writing career.

When you consider both your personal and professional canine-related achievements, which one of each stands out the most?  And why? What is the driving force that sparks your work?

Every day in my work as a physical rehabilitation practitioner, I’m in awe of the power of the human-animal bond, and the determination of animals to heal. They don’t feel sorry for themselves and are truly inspiring.  Over the years I’ve worked with cats and dogs who were given no hope of recovery.  But thanks to available therapeutic treatment modalities and the determination of the animals along with help from their dedicated guardians, these same animals have relearned not only to walk again, but to run, play, and enjoy life once more.

I’m a Founding Member and Administrative Officer for the National Veterinary Response Team (NVRT, formerly VMAT) since 1993.  NVRT is the primary federal resource for veterinary medical support during disasters and national “Special Security Events.” I work with a group of nearly 100 veterinarians and technicians nationwide.

One of the most profound moments with the team was its deployment to the World Trade Centers’ Ground Zero on 9/11. An unforgettable mission, we provided veterinary care to the incredible search and rescue dogs working on site.

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I successfully established a procedure to federally deploy the first-ever disaster support dog.  Otis, a stocky yellow lab, was flown across the country from Oregon to Louisianna, sitting beside his handler in the main cabin. Otis helped relieve stress for hundreds of disaster medical responders, mortuary responders and veterinary personnel working on site in Baton Rouge.

What ongoing or future canine projects do you have planned?  Are they personal or professional?

My entire life is dedicated to improving animal health and educating pet guardians through my veterinary career and my writing. For future projects, I plan to query more publications regarding animal rehabilitation.

What would you recommend to those peers who wish to enter your winning category in next year’s contest? 

Keep writing. Persistence is the key to any creative pursuit. Know that rejection visits everyone.  It is part of the process, but don’t ever let it stand in your way of achieving your goals.

Featured Image: Lyn working in the underwater treadmill with patient Ellie. Photos courtesy Lyn Garson.
Lyn working in the underwater treadmill with canine patient Haley.

Lyn T. Garson, CVT, CCRP can be reached by email at: