Sunday, 30 November 2008

Girl's weekend.

Having just returned from a weekend away with members of our branch surgery it occurred to me that the one thing that unites women in the profession is a sharp sense of humour.

Perhaps this is true of all professions but some of the situations we find ourselves in can be so traumatic that laughter is the best coping strategy. Each of us has our own style of story telling.

Take for example my colleague recounting the tale of an impending euthanasia. As she approached the dog's kennel she chatted quietly with the owner.

'I know it's a hard decision.' She told her.

'I've known for some time.' The owner replied.

'I think you always know.' My colleague nodded.

'It's just not my dog.'

'Yes, they just stop being the pet you know and love.' She tried to comfort her.

'No.' The owner continued. 'I mean that is not my dog.' She said pointing at the dog in the kennel they had arrived at.

Thursday, 27 November 2008


The floor in our entrance porch caved in rather dramatically this morning.

People and their pets were then redirected treasure hunt style via sheets of A4 paper with hand written messages urging them to 'Enter' into the side door leading directly into the grotty kitchen/stationery cupboard. After passing the rubbish bin they set foot through a door festooned with many coats and bags, sadly it was not Narnia that greeted them but the chaos of the vets office.

Here a further notice told them to 'keep going' passed the table strewn with sandwiches half eaten, unfinished cold tea, various thoracic drainage kits, magazines and a mountain of byros and lab results.

Finally after negotiating a large pile of cardboard boxes and empty crates they were directed to 'Turn left' into reception.

I'm not sure what people thought of their little behind the scenes tour. Sadly, I for one forgot on occasion that the vet's office was no longer a 'safe haven'. I can only hope the rather plump old lady who for some minutes remained wedged with her cat basket between the filing cabinet, photocopier and the recycling bin was hard of hearing. Otherwise she probably would not have appreciated my candid phone conversation with a colleague where I may have used the 'f' word more than once in reference to 'that twat of a client'.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Student life.

The house is just as it was ten years ago, dirty and unloved.

Yet this is the house where I spent my third year at vetschool and I loved every moment.

I walk the streets I once trod as a student over ten years ago and for the first time I am totally sober.

It worries me that the vetstudent blogs I read today are full of angst and worry because the five years I spent at vetschool were the best five years of my life.

I attended every lecture, every party, every annual veterinary sports and in my final year when life was altogether far more serious I was to be found oftentimes dancing on the tables in the vet school bar. I put more effort into the final year pantomime than any of my studies and never worried about a thing...apart from the last two weeks when I realised I probably should pass my finals.

When I left vetschool I knew a reasonable amount about animals but absolutely nothing about the one species that would challenge me the most, their human owners.

I find it ironic that vetschools specifically select candidates with excellent communication skills and then neglect these skills for the next five years. No-one teaches you how to tell a client their pet has a terminal disease or how to ascertain what the client actually wants.

Even now I'm still learning about humans, and I don't think that will ever stop.....

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Life after death.

There are times when a deceased pet will do a very good impression of being otherwise.

The animal is dead, the owner upset, tissues are in abundance....

...and then the beloved pet will produce a sudden gasp of breath...a repeated twitch of muscle...a stretch of the limbs and inevitably the mother of all wees, a lake of urine slowly creeping ever closer like molten lava to the edge of the table and my shoes.

Worse, far worse the eyelids that refuse to close however many times I press them shut when the owner isn't looking.

The intensity of this entirely normal post mortem activity is always somehow directly proportional to the distress of the owner.

It's horrible.

Really horrible.

It necessitates a cold scientific explanation on my part at a time when utmost sensitivity is required.

'Are you sure he is dead?' They cry in anguish.

'Yes it's a muscular reflex.' I reply.'I've emptied both barrels of the syringe, he aint coming back.' I want to continue.

If anyone has a cure for 'life after death' I would love to know?

Or perhaps I just need to try keeping more of them alive....

Sunday, 9 November 2008


The depratment for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs.

The typo was actually unintentional...but if the cap fits...

And so at last, the general public has come to learn what the veterinary profession have known for a long time....DEFRA are a complete bunch of fuckwits.

Firstly they insist on using lower case letters in their title which makes it hard to take them seriously.

Secondly they are always giving us the wrong advice.  When I phoned them regarding the PETS travel scheme because a microchip had stopped working in a dog that was due to go to Spain the next day I was advised to risk it and allow the pet to travel because it would probably get picked up on an alternative reader on the way back to the UK, I had used four different ones already.  Thankfully I ignored this advice, I don't think the owner or the dog would have been chuffed with a six month stint in quarantine.

It would appear they have now excelled themselves by setting out some very patronising guide lines on how to keep pets working largely on the assumption that we are all numptys

I mean really, telling us not to overfeed our pets...does the government not realise we are in the middle of a recession?

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Firework phobia.

It always amazes me how unprepared owners can be about an event that comes around every year at the same time.

Thankfully I was not in work today but I can only imagine how many last minute requests for valium were made.  Unfortunately people also fail to remember their pets have to have been examined by a vet within 6 months in order to obtain the medication. A lot of last minutes trips to the vets too.

To be honest though, they may as well stay at home because in my opinion nothing really works...not the firework CD's nor the expensive dog pheremones or any amount of drugs.

In fact, I've got news for all those pet owners, all you can do is wait.....around 12 years and finally your pet will stop when he or she becomes too deaf to notice any more. 

Thursday, 6 November 2008

The cold vet.

'I don't do fawning over people's pets.' Says the city vet matter of fact 'I mean just because I work with pets doesn't mean I would actually want one of my own. People tell me all the time that they can't believe I'm a vet. It really annoys me when doctors think what they do is more difficult.'

I find this sort of vet intensely irritating. Primarily because they think they are too cool to be a vet but also because someone this cold and clinical should have become a doctor, a fact they are acutely aware of and in desperate denial of. Besides which they won't even own a pet for fear of becoming too soft.

I've never been one to be ashamed of the reasons I became the vet.

'I fawn.' I say proudly. 'In fact I fawn all the time and to be honest I couldn't give a shit about what doctors or anyone else think of me.'

City vet frowns. 'Just because people become primary school teachers doesn't mean they want to have lots of children.'

'Oh please.' I want to tell her.'You are talking to someone who owns two cats and a giant rabbit.'