Friday, 29 June 2007

Information Technology.

I have been treating Mrs Fisher's Siamese cat Millie for about a month now.

Millie has asthma.

The new computer system has helpfully placed the following warning on the top of Millie's notes:

** NOTE. Mrs Fisher. Deaf.

I have been careful to speak to Mrs Fisher in a very loud, clear voice. I have ensured that she is able to see my lips when I speak and on occasion I have even used hand signals. Mrs Fisher has a slight lisp but otherwise I have been incredibly impressed with the clarity of her speech and her ability to lip read. I have even managed to speak to her on the phone once or twice.

So when Mrs Fisher asked me today,

'Do you think Millie is still deaf?'

The penny finally dropped.

I have phoned the computer system support team to report the problem, afterall it's only fair they should get an ear full too!

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Bare Bones.

A client presented her dog today for a check-up.

The dog had become suddenly very lame whilst she was on holiday with it three days previously. She had taken it to a local vet where an X-ray had been taken and the dog was diagnosed with a fracture. The leg had been duly bound in heavy bandages and a large green splint.

The vet had been kind enough to give the owner the X-rays to take home so we could review them and continue treatment:


When is a fractured leg, not a fractured leg?


When it is diagnosed in Ireland.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Parents Keep Your Kids at Home.

Augustus Gloop and his mother brought their new puppy to see me this morning.

I turned my back for two minutes and was horrified to discover that Augustus had taken it upon himself to steal my dog biscuits and feed them to every dog in the waiting room. Since these patients had been starved for the purpose of undergoing a general anaesthetic they have now been rescheduled for tomorrow.

There are a number of reasons a veterinary surgery is no place for a child.

Firstly, a sharps bin is exactly what it says on the label. It is impossible to remove the lid so when a child puts their hand into a sharps bin the child will become Edward Scissor hands, forever.

My table is not a climbing frame, I cannot be held responsible for a child being trodden underfoot when a parent is not looking.

Finally, parents who look upon Euthanasia of the family pet as a valuable lesson about life and death, think again.

As poor Rover is on his way to heaven to 'visit Grandma' and your children are running screaming and laughing in and out of the consulting room; ask yourselves this, do you really think they care?

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The Great Escape.

Most clients go to great lengths to ensure their cat does not escape en route to and from the surgery.

Take for example the lady I saw this morning, who wrapped her cat box with seven brightly coloured head scarves tied tightly in a bow. Removing them, the dance of the seven veils, with claws.

Farm cats never escape, they are always bound with vast quantities of baler twine.

It is the middle class cats that go missing.

Middle class people are too posh to push their cats into a box. They prefer to allow the children, Hugo and Arabella to carry their Bengal cat into the surgery. Bengals originate from the wild and inevitably this is where they return, via the surgery car park.

The cat trap is then placed on the periphery of the car park and remains sadly empty for two weeks before the search is discontinued.

In India they use ring tones from mobile phones featuring the sound of cows mooing or goats bleating to attract and trap stray leopards that have wandered into villages.

I wonder whether it is possible to find a ring tone featuring a tin of Waitrose finest cat food being opened, or Eukanuba biscuits tumbling into a dish?

Monday, 25 June 2007

Cathy Come Home.

Those of you living in the UK will be able to appreciate the dreadful state of the weather at present.

Amidst flash floods and torrential rain, spare a thought for the Little Vet standing at the bottom of Mrs Brown's overgrown garden, under a very dense, very wet fir tree this morning searching for Cathy, an absent black cat.

'Are you sure you need to catch her?' Calls the elderly and slightly confused Mrs Brown from the safety of the back door.

'Well there's no other way of giving her the vaccination Mrs Brown.' I reply.

'Are you sure she's under this tree?' I ask as a large branch smacks me in the face and I am showered with yet more water.

'Well she might be in the bush.' She points to a very thick Rhododendron.

'Right.' I begin the search again. 'Cathy! Here Cathy!' I call.

I decide to stop at the point when I can feel the water seeping through my shoes and into my socks.

'I'm afraid I will have to come back another time when she's come home, it might be a good idea to make sure you've got her indoors before you phone us next time.'

I am reminded of the time I was called out to visit an elderly lady in sheltered accommodation. Her cat, Horatio had not eaten for several days. A full bowl of food and empty litter tray stood under the kitchen table but after thirty minutes of searching under every bed and in every cupboard, Horatio could not be found. When I questioned her about a cat also curiously named Horatio, put to sleep at the surgery three years previously, she replied,

'Yes! Isn't it a miracle he's come back?'

I stopped searching and wrote a letter to her GP later that day.

Today I take the precaution of looking for evidence of Cathy's existence before leaving. Thankfully there is a recently emptied cat bowl by the back door. I am however, a little concerned it may have the odd cornflake stuck to the inside.

'Do you think you could get your son to phone me later, Mrs Brown?' I ask, just to be on the safe side.

Since having a pet is supposed to lengthen the lifespan of elderly people, I wonder whether this applies to those with imaginary pets too?

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Old Dogs and Englishmen.

When a dog gets old, a number of behavioural and functional changes occur;

1) Meal times must be kept within strict times to avoid gastro-intestinal upset.

2) Toilet training can be a little hit and miss.

3) They pay less attention to hygiene.

4) They will become grumpy and withdrawn if they are not paid enough attention.

5) They are always under your feet.

6) They become deaf and as a consequence, very loud and vocal.

7) They don't listen to commands.

8) They wander aimlessly from one room to the next and forget what they were doing.

After spending the weekend celebrating my father's sixtieth birthday, together with his close friend of a similar age, and our respective families. I could draw a number of comparisons.

So when my father packed the car but forgot the suitcase and bedding, and my mother phoned on the way home to say they were lost because my father had failed to listen to her navigational commands, I was hardly surprised.

My advice to her, get a new dog.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

War of Passion.

Over the last two years I have looked on proudly as the tiny passion flower I planted has grown rampantly with no interference from myself or the beast in the garage,

Last Year's growth.


So when I knew my parents were arriving for a weekend visit whilst I was out at work yesterday, I felt a slight twinge of panic.

My father is a restless, aggressive pruner with no mercy.

I left a note.

When I returned home, I found this note pinned to the front door,

Thankfully it was not too late. I have now entered pruning negotiations with my father.

We have agreed nothing is to be done without my supervision.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Creature Comforts.

Rabbit owners, there really is no need to bring the whole hutch when your pet visits the vet.

This may seem like a good idea but it is intensely irritating for the person who has to spend ten minutes cleaning up after you and is then picking straw up from her consulting room floor for the rest of the day.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Would I be happier if ?

I park my car at the gym. A woman I regularly train with, a solicitor, pulls up beside me. She has a small silver Audi sports car. She has shiny hair. She is wearing a very sexy suit and incredibly high heals.

I have a dirty Ford Focus. I have greasy hair because I was called out to see a dying hamster before I could wash it this morning. I have traces of cats wee on my trousers and Labrador hair clinging to my breasts.

We are both professionals, so why am I the one driving the Ford Focus with 80,000 miles on the clock?

Would I be happier if I had a sports car?

The fantasy starts to take hold, I am imagining myself behind the wheel, men turn to look as I drive by...

... until she opens the boot to remove her gym bag,

and I realise there is no way I could fit a dead German Shepherd in there.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Things they don't teach you at vet school.

Why is it that when 90% of the floors in my house are covered in this:

My cat will always vomit on this:

The very expensive, and only carpet on my staircase?

Answers gratefully received.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Old Time.

In recent times I have noticed a growing semblance of all dogs with the prefix 'Old Time' to a breed that is now illegal in this country, the Pitt Bull Terrier. In particular the Old Time Staffordshire Bull Terrier or Irish Bull Terrier as it is also known.

When I am asked to examine an Old Time Bull Dog with inflamed testicles I proceed with care.

'You won't need a muzzle.' His six foot, heavyweight owner with something resembling a nail through his tongue, tells me.

'I thought you said he bit you when you tried to have a look?'

He allows me to put a muzzle on.

'He's going to need some steroids, antibiotics and flea treatment.' I tell him after a very brief examination.

'I don't care what it costs, I just want his balls back the way they were.' He grunts.

I finish the treatment and open the door to allow the Hound of the Baskervilles out.

'I can't settle up til' the end of the month when I get paid.' His owner tells me as the rest of the clients in the waiting room scatter.

An 'old time' excuse I feel, but I wasn't going to argue with him.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Multiple Choice.

Question One.

How expensive are these knickers?

Is the answer:

A) Ten pounds.
B) Six hundred pounds.
C) Two thousand four hundred pounds.

The correct answer is actually B) six hundred pounds; their expense being greatly increased after I had the pleasure of removing them surgically from the small intestine of Snoopy the dog yesterday evening.

For those of you living in London however, the correct answer would have been C) two thousand four hundred pounds. Which brings us to the next question.

Question two

Why would it cost four times more to have these knickers removed from a city slicking canine compared to any other?

Is it because London veterinary surgeons have:

A) Bigger overheads.
B) Bigger heads.
C) Bigger wallets.

I'll let you decide, but it's not A).

Sunday, 17 June 2007

One Foot In A Freshly Dug Grave.

'He's at the bottom of the garden, he can't get up. He's arthritic and incontinent, and today he seems very unwell.' The owner tells me as I arrive.

What she hasn't told me is that Albert, a fourteen year old Collie is at the bottom of the garden, lying collapsed, only a couple of feet next to a large hole in the ground. A large Collie size hole. The hole is at present being deepened with a shovel by a boy of no more than around seven, standing up to his waste in soil.

'We think it's time.' She explains the obvious as the dog is hit by a flying clod of dirt.

The young son is seemingly unaffected, continuing his labours in the hole.

I give the injection. Albert the collie drifts off, spending his last few moments listening to the sound of his own grave being dug.

Lets hope he was deaf as well as arthritic and incontinent.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Basket Case.

There are hundreds of different designs of baskets and pet carriers available to cat owners for transportation of their pets.

Vets however, consider there to be only two types. The criteria for which are based solely on ease of cat extraction for examination. They are as follows:

1) The right ones.

2) The wrong ones.

So if you want to make your vet very happy and maybe even see a reduction in your bill make it the right one next time.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Disappearing Dahlias

This morning I was upset to discover the Dahlias I have been tenderly nurturing for the last two months have literally disappeared over night.

After gathering the evidence,

I could draw only the following conclusions:

1) When I rescued an 8 kg Giant rabbit from certain death, I was a little naive not to realise I would be surrendering my garden.

2) The RHS website listing 'plants relatively resistant to rabbits' should have placed more emphasis on the word 'relative'.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

House Calls

Vets hate house calls.

It is hard to conduct a thorough clinical examination whilst crouched under the dining room table or round the back of the sofa. Clients are all too aware we prefer to be on our own turf, so when the following note appeared in the message book today, I was far from thrilled.

'Mrs Smith, it's the vet calling to arrange the visit, I understand you are unable to bring Princess to the surgery.' I try to sound understanding, which is difficult because I know she almost lives within walking distance of the surgery.

'Yes, it just wouldn't be safe to leave Mother, she's eighty-seven you know.'

I find it odd that her mother should age by seven years in the space of a few hours. I resist the urge to ask how long she has been 'acting funny and licking her lips' for.

'Don't worry I'll come out now Mrs Smith.'

'That would be wonderful, can I pay you tomorrow?'

'No problem, you can call and pay over the phone if it would be more convenient.'

'That's very kind love but I don't mind popping round to the surgery to settle up.'


What a shame to fall at the last hurdle, she nearly had me convinced.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Work Experience.

Oh how I loathe them.

Every year we have to endure at least two months of disinterested teenagers dripping in week by week, propping up the walls in our consulting rooms or mooching about with a broom.

They like sitting down, in fact they will sit down at any opportunity. My biggest annoyance is when they slump down in my chair or worse, the client's.

Most of them are seven foot, fifteen year old boys who at some point during the week will tumble, like a falling oak to the floor in theater. At least then, we are afforded a few hours peace while the receptionists are given the task of reviving them.

Some days it feels like I have my own personal Dementor lurking in the corner of my consulting room, draining my soul of all hope and joy and sending me to a dark and desperate place. Where's Harry Potter with his Patronus spell when you need him?

Thank Christ I am not a teacher, I don't know how they even muster the will to get out of bed in the morning.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007


During the summer months many dogs take it upon themselves to have a small holiday from their owners.

The warmer weather means more walks and more opportunity for escape.

This week we have seen an influx of posters appealing for the safe return of many such pets. It is widely accepted that a photo can greatly increase the chance of recognition. In some instances however, this is somewhat dubious:

Lets hope they both make it back, through the dark.

Monday, 11 June 2007

' The Chase.'

I have taken it upon myself to re-educate the millions of you who tuned into BBC One's, ridiculous veterinary circus at 8.30 pm last night.

I could barely bring myself to watch for three minutes, before being forced to turn over to something slightly less painful (Big Brother).

I would therefore like to make the following points on the programme in question:

1) Real vets do not name their veterinary practice after something that sounds like a cul-de sac built by David Wilson homes.

2) Real vets do not go about their day with perfectly straightened hair. Real vets know that they may be called upon to perform an anal sac evacuation at any moment or deal with a stray placenta. Real vets will therefore carry an elastic band in their pocket at all times with which they can speedily tie a pony tail, resulting in that all day kinked effect that no amount of brushing can subdue.

Straightening would therefore be a waste of effort. No, real vets only use hair straighteners on the weekend.

3) Real veterinary nurses do not wear lilac uniforms. Dark green is the staple, (see above) dark blue being the alternative option.

How can lilac possibly hope to hide the blood, urine and crap that real nurses are covered in for most of the day.

4) Real vets do not have time to go about the village investigating their father's murder. There simply isn't time to even eat a sandwich most days.

No, real vets are far too busy for that sort of nonsense, some of them may even be writing their Blog.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Discovered At Last

'Your father thinks it's a bird.' Says my mother resolutely down their crackling skype telephone line.

'Sorry?' I ask, completely lost.

'In your loft. Your father thinks it's a bird in your loft.'

Now I understand. My mother has told my father about my blog and somehow he has navigated his way online and into my 'New arrivals' dilemma. Well at least now I have one new hit on my site.

'It's OK, you can tell him it's been silent up there for a good few nights now so I think they've finally gone.' I tell her to pass on the message.

'I've told Beverley.'

'About the birds?'

'No about your blog.'

Beverley is a good friend of my mother's who lives just around the corner.

Since word of mouth is supposedly the best way to publicise a blog I appeal to you Beverley, if you are reading this please tell everyone you know.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Becoming a Godmother

'Do you renounce Satan on behalf of this child?' Asks the vicar in a menacing tone.

'I do.' I reply.

'Do you promise to guard her from evil?'

'I do.'

Perhaps being a Godparent isn't so bad. Afterall, I was beginning to think I might never get the opportunity to say 'I do' in a church.

Friday, 8 June 2007

I Hate Study Leave

'Hello, it's the vet phoning, could I please speak to Mrs Brown, it's about the dog.' I ask politely.

'Mum's busy, but you can speak to me.' My heart sinks as I recognise the youthful voice of a teenage son, swift to answer the phone as a welcome break from A-level revision. Unfortunately a common occurance this time of year.

'Well I just need to explain a few things, perhaps it would be better to phone later.'

'You can tell me.'

'I think it would be better to speak to your mother.'

'He's my dog too.'

I sigh, I hate wasting my professional time.

'Bruno has a spinal condition, most likely a slipped disc and we need to consider more tests including an MRI scan and a possible referral. He also has hip dysplasia but I am doubtful that this is a significant cause of his lameness or neurological symptoms.'

Long pause.

'Perhaps you better speak to Mum, I'll just go and get her.'

How predictable.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Night Calls

Last night I was on call. A long day, tired and tucking myself into bed, I find it hard to imagine myself getting back out of it, until of course the call comes.

One am. I pull my jeans over my pyjamas. I don't brush my hair or apply make-up, I want the clients to know they have wrenched me from my bed.

'We haven't seen Charlie for a while, how long has he been unwell?' I ask.

'About three weeks.'

I continue my examination in silence.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Date With A Dirty Dog.

I am a creature of habit. Every Tuesday on my afternoon off I do my weekly shop. More recently I have found myself the victim of a supermarket stalker.

The stalker is in fact known to me through a gym class I regularly attend. He is an adult male of approximately thirty-six years of age, around six foot tall, with short silver hair and if he is to be believed, a retired ex RUC/SAS/Interpol agent. Nowadays he plays golf, frequents the gym, chases women and on a Tuesday afternoon takes great joy in kidnapping my trolley, mid-shop.

I agree to meet him for coffee this afternoon. I have no intention of our relationship going any further than the Supermarket Cafe and supposedly, as he has assured me on many occasions, nor has he.

'Any hits this weekend?' He asks me. I guess he is asking about sexual encounters.

'No, you?' I reply.

He pauses, 'All men, army bash, no shagging.'

For the next twenty minutes he fills me in on the women he has in fact successfully bedded in the last few months, thus upholding his playboy reputation.

I am beginning to wonder why he asked me to come for coffee, perhaps he is lonely or perhaps he thinks I am lonely and that hearing about his cheap conquests will cheer me up.

'I'm going to find you a man.' He tells me as he pretends to ogle a woman manoeuvring her trolley and ample bosom passed our table.

This it would appear, is the motive for our meeting.

Is he being sincere or is his search on my behalf just another way of keeping me under close surveillance I wonder?

Monday, 4 June 2007

It's A Man's World.

'I'll have to check with my husband.' She says as she squeezes the cat back into the basket.

I want to ask why it is necessary to check with her husband whether an easily treatable condition should be remedied?

'Fine.' I smile. 'I'll give you the medication and if your husband decides against treatment then he can bring it back.' Emotional blackmail, he doesn't stand a chance.

Later, it is time to make an important decision about the future of Mrs Smith's, very sick, fifteen year old German Shepherd. Mrs Smith is an elderly widow. I sense she has already made up her mind. Her neighbour, Elsie has invited herself round for moral support and general interference.

'I'll get my husband, he can decide.' Elsie announces.

'I'm so sorry, I didn't realise the dog belonged to your husband, I thought Mrs Smith was the owner.' I say rather deliberately.

'Oh no, but I just thought you could explain it to him and he could make the decision, he knows about these things.'

If I had a pair of testicles, would it still be necessary to check I wonder?

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Am I A Bad Pet Owner?

They hear me break the capsule and they are off under the sofa. If only my clients could see me now. Doors bolted, Frontline flea treatment poised in left hand, cat squirming beneath right knee. Its hard work being a pet owner.

'You make it look so easy.' My clients tell me all the time at the surgery. I just smile smugly.

In real life, away from the bright lights, consulting table and nursing assistants, I struggle just like everyone else.

Which is why I rarely administer flea treatment, wormers and vaccinations to my own pets. I've never clinically examined them. I'd rather not know if they were ill, worrying about it would turn me into one of the neurotic mothers I deal with on a daily basis.

I feed them mediocre food, Tesco's biscuits and Felix sachets. Once a week when I am watching CSI they are allowed on my lap for a cuddle.

Does this make me a bad pet owner?

Personally I think I'm just lazy like everybody else.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

New Arrivals

Barely a weekend goes by without one of my married friends radiantly announcing the pitter patter of tiny feet. Now it would appear I have some of my own, only mine are coming from the loft.

Nine am, I lay in bed, awake. As is customary on a Saturday morning, I am wondering what I am going to do today in order to occupy my lonely little soul, when I become aware of a noise, rather like sand falling on wood. It appears to be coming from somwhere in the loft, directly above my wardrobe. There follows a muffled, scratching noise, a thump and then silence.

I identify the noise as a scuttle.

A rodent type scuttle.

Fear grips me.

I have considered calling my father for advice on the matter but I am reminded of a recent incident where he contacted pest control to eradicate the death watch beetles from his loft, only to discover it was an old smoke alarm that was squeaking.

I know just what he will say. 'Where there's one there'll be more.' Or, 'You'll never be rid of the dirty, disease infested bastards.'

Since I have similarly inherited his glass half empty approach to life, I will be heavily influenced and fall into a deep depression over the matter.

I have decided at thirty one years of age I am more than capable of going it alone. What I would really love to know however, is how on earth the bastards got up there in the first place?

Friday, 1 June 2007

Muzzle Mania

Never a good sign when the first patient of the day is muzzled prior to consultation.

'Is Tyson bad with vets or just other dogs?' I ask, whilst keeping my distance.

'He's fine, he just gets a bit funny sometimes.' Tyson's heavily tattooed owner replies as he tightens his grip on the choke chain.

"A bit funny" can mean a lot of things in a veterinary context, mostly bad.

'Does he bite people?' I clarify my line of questioning.

'I've only had him a month, I got him from the dog rescue but he doesn't seem to like bicycles, men or other dogs.'

Thankfully I am neither of the above.

'I need to examine him before we admit him for his castration operation I explain.

'Do you think it will stop him attacking the bicycles?' He asks.

Since Tyson is a large, fully grown, adult Staffordshire Bull Terrier it is very unlikely that anything, even a lack of testosterone will dent his killer instinct. I remain diplomatic in the hope that we may at the very least be able to prevent the procreation of more bicycle killers.

'Quite possibly.' I reply.

A low, throaty, rumble is audible as I bend down to listen to Tyson's chest. The death rattle.

'I think Tyson might be getting a bit funny.' I withdraw hastily from my examination.

'He won't touch you, he's harmless, my four year old's always all over him!' He laughs.

I want to ask if he has read the newspapers recently, but I guess if he had he wouldn't have rehomed a staffie with an unpredictable temperament; when so many make wonderful family pets, it begs the question why was this one given away?