Dr. Joan Bladé was no stranger to raising animals when he bought his first pair of canaries from a local canary breeder as a hematology fellow. Having grown up on a farm in the small town of Benissanet in Catalonia Spain, he loved animals. In fact, he had no plans to attend school past the age of 12 and dreamed of taking over his family’s sheep farm. But with some encouragement from his family and a local teacher, he continued his education, eventually graduating from medical school. Unfortunately, he needed to give up his first set of birds when he moved apartments and his new landlord would not allow them. As Bladé continued to train in hematology and developed in his career, he missed his canaries. However, in 1992, he had a chance encounter with the canary breeder, who was a patient at his hospital. A friendship was born and soon, the breeder took him under his wing. Dr. Bladé quickly found himself in possession of three pairs of canaries and thus a new passion was born.
Dr. Bladé’s menagerie extended to about 40 pairs of canaries, including some from Italy, which colleagues in myeloma helped him procure, with about 200 chicks hatching each year. He later began to participate in exhibitions, first locally in Catalonia and then throughout Spain, soon the World Championships were beaconing. Dr. Bladé has participated in four World Championships with more on the horizon. Raising champion canaries is more than an issue of good genetics. The birds require much care including constant cleaning, a balanced diet, and frequent baths. Today, Bladé has more time than ever to lavish care on his canaries. Having inherited his family farm, he is enjoying partial retirement, raising sheep, breeding rabbits, growing vegetables, and most importantly, rearing and training his canaries.