Sunday, 30 December 2007

Dumping ground.

'My husband says the cat has to go by the end of today or he will leave me.' Snivels the rather pathetic female voice down the phone line.

'Is your cat sick?' I ask.

'No.' Comes the reply that releases me from any professional obligation in this particular case.

'Well I would suggest you phone the Cats Protection League.' I reply.

'But it's Sunday and they are closed.' She says rather hysterically.

'Well you can drop the cat with a friend today and phone them tomorrow.' I am tired she is wasting my time.

'Will they put her down?'

Personally I think her husband should start packing his bags but I am getting the sense that this weak and needy woman obviously can't survive life without him. In fact I suspect she can't take responsibility for anything in her life.

Cats like this are dumped with us every week. We have one in the cattery at present that has been there for two weeks because she kept trying to sleep in new baby's cot. We have been given no money to feed her, the assumption being we will do this for free. The previous owners have made no attempt to find her a home. She is in a small cage and gets no exercise because we do not have facilities to look after long term boarders.

I take a deep breath.

'Your cat is YOUR responsibility, this veterinary surgery is NOT a rescue centre. Your cat will have to stay with a friend today, or your husband will have to leave.'

This seems to do the trick. The crying stops and she mutters some thanks.

Personally I'd rather die than let someone come between me and my pets.

Perhaps that is why I am still single.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Overindulgence... not just for humans.

But sometimes the consequences for animals are more serious, as I am quite sure the Labrador that had eaten a whole bar of dark chocolate Toblerone on Christmas day and was wired to a drip and being forced to eat charcoal this morning would agree if he could talk. Although, being a Labrador he seemed to quite like his charcoal and wasn't sure what all the fuss was about.

Chocolate is toxic for dogs, in small dogs it can be lethal. The darker the chocolate the more dangerous it is.

Christmas cake contains raisins which can cause kidney failure.

Turkey wish bones are just large enough to get wedged at the back of a cat's throat, removal is precarious under anesthesia and may result in asphyxiation.

This time of year is therefore full of Christmas cheer at the surgery.

But overindulgence is not just a Christmas pass time. The biggest killer of West Highland White terriers is the lamb bone. A lamb bone is just large enough to be swallowed but often too large to get to the stomach. It remains wedged in the oesophagus and can become impossible to remove and to put it bluntly if you can't swallow you can't live.

So it's important to remember therefore, that a vet is for life and not just for Christmas.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Dear Santa...

'I don't want a sick dog for Christmas.' Says Mrs Small to the sick vet on Friday.

No pressure then. The sixth request this week.

I am sweating again and my head is pounding but like all my colleagues I feel obligated to work through my illness provided I can still stand up, with short visits home to rest between consulting hours so I can still perform my night duties.

Healing is the last thing on my mind.

It also appears to be the last thing on many of my client's minds.

Whilst most people are emptying their freezers at this time of year, we are busy filling ours with the annual 'pre-Christmas clear out.' Unfortunately every euthanasia appears to bring about a new attack of sneezing and dripping to the extent that I am racing the distressed owners to the Kleenex box.
Thankfully my night duty passed quietly and I handed the mass of inpatients over to my colleague with some relief at finally being able to get some rest.

She had had vomiting and diarrhoea since 4 am that morning.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Appropriate attire.

When I go to visit my dentist I make sure I clean my teeth.

When I visit my doctor I always wear a clean pair of socks and have a freshly set of shaved legs.

I am not sure therefore by which set of professional visitation rules the young lady in the dressing gown and towel was operating under when she brought her cat in for a check up today.

Nor the woman who came in last week with her crazy spaniel and bare feet.

But it has to be said my all time favourite is the 'shirt open to the navel' popular with beer bellied men in their fifties who like to wear tattoos and carry decrepit Jack Russell terriers under their sweaty arm pits.

Where are Trinny and Susannah when you need them?

These crimes are however are also committed by the middle/upper classes, who seem to have an unhealthy obsession with filth.

They feel it appropriate to wear their 'countryside march' attire into the surgery, complete with half the home counties on their wellies and a large proportion of it inside the barbed wire wound on their black Labradors limb. The mess of blood and mud they leave in their wake is extraordinary yet they never apologise.

One I can forgive on the basis of ignorance and lack of manners, the other is just plain disrespectful.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

No looking back.

Recently I paid a visit to my secondary school because my mother still works there.

The school has a lot of shiny, impressive new buildings and a glowing Ofsted report.

But it still smarts when I walk the corridors.

It smarts because they told me I should give up on my hopes and dreams. They told me I would fail.

I didn't give up because I have two wonderful supportive parents and a stubborn determination.
I didn't fail.

In contrast, I loved every second of my time at vet school.

I was sad to hear that the Royal College has recently issued a warning that if the facilities there are not improved then they will be closed down. Since funding comes from the University and not the college I am not sure how they will survive.

I like to think that it's not about the buildings, it's about the basics.

Like instilling confidence, ambition and compassion.

How unfortunate that these are the things upon which the success of an institution cannot be measured.

Not by the Royal College.

Not by Ofsted.

Friday, 14 December 2007

While the cats away.....

.....the mice will all be on facebook.

Since the Christmas party last weekend a new phenomenon has taken hold, namely 'facebook mania'. Quite frankly I am sick of it. The posting of yet more photographs of drunk colleagues necessitates a visit by every nurse and receptionist to the site during consulting hours, whilst on the phone and even when serving customers.

Not entirely professional.

For example, when Mrs Jones was leaning over the reception desk, typing her pin-number into the machine in order to pay for her puppies vaccinations I'm not entirely sure that she was expecting to see an image of one of the nurses holding a bottle of wine and an equine assistant's buttocks.

But who am I to judge, that's a matter for Big Brother.

It has quite possibly been made worse by the absence of one of the partners this week which strangely also coincided with the often late arrival of all prospective partnership candidates to the workplace and a slightly less than enthusiastic attitude to their work.

If only he knew.

But then again, maybe he does.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman...

Five reasons why your pet will receive excellent care from a woman vet:

1) A strong work ethic means women will be first to arrive in the work place and check on your pet's progress. They know you are worrying and waiting for their call.

2) They will always go the extra mile, they will never give up on your pet unless you have decided it is time to say goodbye.

3) If your pet is aggressive or difficult they will find a way round the teeth and claws with cunning and determination.

4) If your pet needs a bath or hand feeding they will ensure this is done, and failing this they will do it themselves.

5) They are very, very good at what they do.

Five reasons why being a woman vet is a huge disadvantage:

1) A strong work ethic doesn't get you a partnership. Sadly the vast majority of woman vets have to learn to 'Put up and shut up', there's no point in taking legal action on the basis of sexual discrimination, you'll never be employed again. You're going to be an assistant for the rest of your career because men are too foolish to even consider that women might have aspirations too.

2) Going the extra mile is stressful and exhausting. Women have to tolerate having their clinical judgement questioned and they are often chastised by their colleagues for being 'too thorough' or 'over the top'. No pet owner EVER complains about a vet being too thorough, in fact for an employer it is a highly profitable exercise but one that sadly often goes unrecognised.

3) There's nothing enjoyable about fearing for your life and a five day course of antibiotics.

4) Sometimes it's difficult finding the time to be a vet and a nurse rolled into one but women know that caring for your pet is not just about the big things, the little things are just as important.

5) It doesn't matter how good women are at their job, some female clients will still prefer to see a man.

So the next time your pet needs to visit the vet take my advice and ask for a woman, just don't expect to see her name above the practice door.

Not in this century.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Consultation Clangers.

Ten things your veterinarian does not want to hear at the start of a consultation:

1) I'm on benefits.

2) He bit the last vet.

3) He usually comes to see Martin. He loves Martin.

4) My wife gave me a list.

5) I've been doing some research on the internet.

6) You are the fourth different vet I've seen this week and he still isn't any better!

7) He's just peed up your consulting room door.

8) He's not been right for 4 months now and we are going on holiday tomorrow.

9) Are you the nurse?

10) I know I've only got one appointment but I've got three more dogs in the car and the receptionist said you wouldn't mind seeing them too.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Feline Foes.

It doesn't matter what I do this week, all cats have an overwhelming desire to mame me.

Perhaps I am releasing feline anger fueling pheremones.

Perhaps I am just unlucky.

One of my angry patients is very overweight, this makes the job doubly hard because I am having to grapple the equivalent of too aggressive cats in one body.

There are many feline subduing techniques a veterinarian has up their sleeve.

The first is a veterinary nurse who is bold and brave with lightening reactions or in other words, just plain stupid.

The second is the cat muzzle ( a bit like Darth Vader's mask), unreliable because the bastard cat of the Baskervilles usually manages to bite you while you are putting it on, failing that it will inevitably get you when you are taking it off.

The third is a large dose of ketamine. This is administered in a crush cage. A cage with a sliding wall that allows compression of the hissing and spitting feline foe so that the ketamine can be administered through the bars. You know if you've injected it in the right place, because they will let you know.

Sadly not all cats respond to ketamine, they get worse, much worse. No-one likes an agressive cat, less one that is 'on a trip'.

For these we reserve what is known in the trade as 'the lunchbox' in other words a large plastic box in which the cat is jammed and anaesthetic gas is piped in. The cat is usually 'cooked' or sufficiently subdued when the growling is no longer audible and can then be safely removed. Remove it too soon and it becomes a 'cat rocket' - which is exactly that, with claws and twice as dangerous.

I have used ketamine on three occasions and the lunchbox on two this week.

It is only Tuesday.

All these cats have the abbreviation 'DSH' on their notes.

This normally stands for 'Domestic Short Hair'.

This week I have given it a new meaning.

'Domestic Shit Head.'

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Born again carnivore.

I have been a born again carnivore for approximately 45 days now.

When I was fifteen, Sarah Towns, a nasty, pasty girl in my class told me that I should not make my stomach 'a graveyard for animals'.

So I made it a haven for all things Linda McCartney, soya and quorn.

It was around this time that two things happened, firstly I stopped growing and secondly I developed a vicious eczema. Sadly I have been this way ever since, a stumpy dwarf with poor skin but strong morals.

I did however continue to eat fish in order to keep my red cell count up.

Recently I spoke to a veterinary dermatologist who advised me that I might in fact be allergic to the mercury in fish. He looks at itchy West Highland White terriers all day, I trust his judgement implicitly.

So I decided to give up the fish but rather than face certain anemia I started eating meat again.

Today I attended a Sunday lunch for all my friends at the local pub, we had not seen one another for some time and it was great to catch up and hear about all the latest pregnancies and marriages.

When it was time to order, I quietly asked the waiter for the roast lamb.

There were gasps of shock and amazement, everyone then fell silent.

Oh lord, I had forgotten to tell them!

I suspect they would have been less surprised had I announced that I was having an illegitimate child.

Well I guess after all those years of having to make 'special meals' every time I came to visit they must have been pretty upset.

'How are you finding it?' One of them asked.

'Not as good as I remember.' I replied.

More gasps.

I should have said, 'It's a bit like when you haven't had sex for a long time, when you finally do, it's never as good as you imagined it was.'

Since they are all married with small children I suspect this would have been something they could have related too.