Friday, 25 July 2008

The special case.

The sombre gentlemen sits quietly in the corner of the waiting room. On his lap is a tightly bound black plastic bin liner, the contents approximating the dimensions of a medium size cat.

A quite clearly deceased, medium sized cat.

An odd looking gentleman standing at the counter glances over at him. He smiles broadly.
'She's good isn't she?' He says nodding at the bound bin liner. 'My Sooty would have been off your lap and out that door by now.' He continues chuckling.

'Actually she's dead.' The sombre man replies.

'What's her name then?' The odd man persists, quite clearly oblivious.

'Amber, her name was Amber.' The sombre man sadly pats the motionless cat parcel.

'That's a pretty name, how old is she?'

'She was seventeen.'

'That's such a good age, fancy that she hasn't moved a muscle, she's being so good, not like my Sooty.' The odd man smiles. 'Out that door I tell you!' He laughs.

Four days later we are still waiting for Sooty to be collected from the surgery.

Hardly surprising.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Leaving the flock.

We lost one of our sheep on Monday but by Wednesday she had returned.

It is not unusual to have a high turn over of veterinary nurses, sadly once they are trained the good ones move on, usually for more money and less hours.

I find it hard to see them go because I have watched most of them turn from awkward teenage girls into competent professionals.

But this one came back. She came back because the standard of care in her new place of work was poor, because animals were neglected when they should have been nursed. She decided she couldn't take the money and turn a blind eye.

I am so proud of her for standing up for her principles. Mostly there has been talk of why she came back, but the important question is, why did she leave in the first place?

Sadly the veterinary nurse continues to be undervalued and underpaid, not least because most are young women who do not have the privilege of the middle class upbringing that their employers will have enjoyed. They never complain, they just move on.

Until there are more female partners including both vets and nurses, sadly the cycle will continue.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

A flea in the ear.

'I've been coming here for seven years and no-one has ever told me that Co-Co has fleas!' Says the rather irrate lady with large gaps in her teeth.

Right on cue Co-Co starts scratching her abdomen with her hindleg.

Had I been a man I suspect the reaction would have been a little less violent.
For this particular client such a diagnosis from a female clinician is equivalent to accusing her of being a slut who lives in a filthy house.

Ten minutes later my clinical judgement is still being questioned because she has taken it upon herself to disagree with everything I say in order to prove that I am not fit to be a vet.
I remain calm and reasonable, I never raise my voice.

Finally she leaves the surgery declaring rather dramatically that 'She has never been spoken to like this in all her life.' Crocodile tears rolling down her face.

The next day she phones the sugery to enquire about the bill.

The receptionist reveals that I have not charged her.

'Does she think I am some sort of charity case?!' She rants, demanding a bill immediately.

As a vet passive aggression is the only way to get even with a client, yet remain professional.

I decide not to fulfill her request, afterall it's a lot harder to complain about a service you haven't paid for.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Dangerous wild animals.

Every so often an injured wild animal will be brought to the surgery.

As a vet you learn to read your patients, it is something that comes with experience from having examined thousands of animals and of course learning from your mistakes.

You can tell which will be dangerous within seconds, subtle changes in body posture, facial expression and a sixth sense that comes with time.

When faced with a species you are not accustomed to this becomes harder.

In hindsight the muzzle and gauntlets we used for this 5 kg fox were admittedly overkill.

But we saved him, nobody got hurt and that's what counts.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Inappropriate behaviour.

Bertie and Jasper bound into my room, they each weigh thirty two kilos. That translates into sixty four kilos of Labradoodle jumping up and punching me in the breasts simultaneously.

Josh and James, eight year old twin boys weighing approximately the same are giving them encouragement with a Ben Hur style use of the leash.

The adult that has accompanied them asks,

'Do you think castration will help?'

'For your sons or the dogs?' I want to ask.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Sometimes it's hard... be a socialist.

Because poor people are just plain stupid.

'My cat's got a cut.' Says the lady on the phone. 'But I can't afford to pay nothing today.'

'How big is it?' I ask.

'Quite big.'

'In centimeters.' I clarify.

'How big is a centimeter?' She asks.

'OK, how big is it compared to the length of a ruler?'

'Oh, it's at least as long as a ruler.' She replies.

'I think we had better see him then.' I say rather concerned.

'In fact if you include his tail he's probably longer than what a ruler is.' She says with added gravity.

These are the people I vote Labour for.

Thankfully Mr Brown is making it a little less easy these days.

Friday, 4 July 2008


People handle it in different ways.

Take for example the couple in their sixties who insisted I pull all the stops out for their critically injured, very elderly eighteen year old cat. They wanted Sooty to die of old age not as a result of being reversed over on the driveway.

The woman whose dog sustained fatal injuries as a result of a fight with four of her other dogs, now taking legal action against her landlord.

When an animal is injured or dies as a direct result of our own actions the guilt can make us behave irrationally, but what we must really ask is whether this is in the animal's interest?