Sunday, May 31, 2009

It shouldnt happen to a Vet!

The iconic Yorkshire Veterinary Surgeon James Herriott has a lot to answer for- certainly amongst my generation of Vets. The BBC tv show "all creatures great and small " of the early eighties ran for years and was a dramatisation of Herriotts series of books about his adventures with the characters, the farmers and their diverse animal woes over his many years as a country Vet. Herriott wrote like a combination of Wodehouse and Flann OBrien with each tale a vignette of rural farce where cunning rustic folk invariably had alaugh at the expense of the sincere earnest but often hapless young vet.
The books themselves are hilarious but are also a snapshot of rural British life in the thirties and forties- with this way of life starting to change in the fifties with better drugs, bigger factory farms, better roads and competition from imported produce threatening old assumptions.
It resonates with me again as I write this in a way that makes Herriott seem relevant to Ireland.
The people and countryside Herriott describes were familiar to me , oddly enough, growing up in 1970s rural Ireland- thats right ,not a million years and miles from 1950s Yorkshire.
We have come a long way. Agriculture has declined in relevance, but has streamlined and thankfully lost much of its hardship and poverty, largely because of the EECs initial help to Ireland and our continuing vocal central role at the heart of Europe.
This progress must not be taken for granted and the heritage of where we came from in a short three generations must not be forgotten.
I am canvassing for the local elections at the moment with a Kildare candidate Suzanne Doyle.
There is anger and bewilderment at the moment about our recession, our irresponsible bank,s lending policies and the staggering way world cash flow has just stopped like a tap being switched off.
Much of this response in born out of fear as we are all indebted to a level that our new 2009 incomes cant cope with. My advice to you as a businessman sharing my own difficulties of cash flow to liability shortfall is this. Dont ignore the banks. Send them all the information they want about your finances. Then pay them what you can pay them on your own terms. Dont try to meet all your repayments if it is going to lead to hardship for your family or closure of your business. But pay all your institutional debtors some sum of money every month.
Ireland will never go back to the bad old days of state sanctioned evictions of families. We have a very strong constitution which upholds the rights of individuals. Dont believe the media hysteria about repossessions of homes and worse- these are just the people who have been ignoring every bank letter and not paying a penny for perhaps two years.
If you make a little effort to meet your debts the system we have, such as it is , will be in your favour.
Herriotts second book " it shouldnt happen to a Vet " told tales of the young Vets mistakes, setbacks and frequent kicks from truculent livestock. As the celtic garfield has now well and truly lost its nine lives I can look back and say I made mistakes by over-investing, over-paying staff, expanding too quickly and over-estimating how much potential growth there was in the market. But my family are alive andhappy. My wife and three little boys are my universe. Thats all that matters and thats not a cliche.
My associate Vet Simon rang last night to say he had just broken his arm. He took a hard fall while schooling a young horse. He can now expect to be out of work for up to six weeks. It will be a torrid time at Groome Pet Vets without his valued help.
A young newly married man who is starting to build a house he can ill afford as a self-employed Vetto be unable to work for six weeks.
Now THAT shouldnt happen to a Vet!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A taste of the exotic

My KFM Vets Corner now runs every Friday at 11.15 on Clem Ryans morning show. The public reaction to my show,both on and off the air is testament to the growing dedication and enthusiasm of Irish people for all creatures great and small. Animal loving Clem helps it along with his own curiosity and love for the animal kingdom.
A missing African Grey Parrot in the Curragh area prompted my tale of the Koran reciting Saudi Arabian Parrot I once encountered in Jeddah- where the custom of keeping polly on a perch above the stove in the kitchen led to a high incidence of a fungal emphysema called Aspergillosis.
This tale was soon bettered by a callers anecdote about Bruce Lee, the Chinese owned Parrot in a Sheriff Street take away who could curse in Dublinese, Cantonese and bark at the owners mother in laws Pekinese.
Clems interest in the exotic thus piqued I recounted a sad case history about a tiger cub with the wobbles who entered Jeddah Vet Hospital one boiling hot day ( every day was a boiling hot day) with a growling half stagger- like a character from a T.S.Eliot cat poem-followed by a nervous besandled Arab youth on the end of his chain.
Dubbed Macavity the mystery cat by the hospitals puzzled staff, this tiger was eventually diagnosed with calcium- deficit ricket disorder and eventually responded well to mineral correctng therapy.
A tail for our times perhaps as like many a celtic tiger cub Macavity's domestic diet of fresh steak daily lacked balance and proved too much of a good thing for a cat born to be wild!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Birth Control Bonanza

Canine conjugal relations are often swift and surreptious. Indeed as the owner of many a canine beauty queen on heat discovers to their chagrin, the canine male suitor is usually elusive resourceful and athletic in his ardour.
We are inundated in the Spring and Summer with calls from bitch owners in search of the canine equivalent of the morning after pill- There is such a thing, but it is available for Veterinary use in injectable form only. The scenario begins with a careful owner's best efforts to keep an on-heat bitch locked up- but frequently ends with a frantic call to the Vet as their prize pedigree bitch is found in delicto flagrante and tied back to front with the neighbourhood mongrel lothario.
This type of problem mating is quaintly and archaically known as misalliance in veterinary terminology and can be remedied with an injection of Oestradiol Benzoate within 72 hours of the deed in question.
Last summer we had an owner of a beautiful young border collie bitch who was insistent that Sheba would be bred at two and a half years old- yet Sheba turned up three times in nine months for this misalliance injection as their neighbours male bull terrier defied their best efforts at fencing the garden off.
As I believe Irelands dog population has now outgrown demand for pets I am a strong advocate of the final solution to this issue- Neutering!
For May and June we have reduced the price of Spay and Neuter to 2004 prices.
Veterinary Irelands Spay week in early June will further publicise this issue.
Now at Groome PetVets we will neuter male dogs for 90 euro with Female Spay procedures now priced at 120 euro.

Now that what we call real added value!

Aiming to provide excellence in Veterinary when YOU need it near YOU!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

PET NAPPING -a sinister recessionary revenue-spinner

Callers to KFM have reported a distressing new type of criminal activity. In an era when innovation and the knowledge economy are being promoted as the keys to Irelands future, our native criminals are using a different type of knowledge to find innovative ways to gather their revenue in recessionary times. A spate of thefts of pedigree dogs from gardens and yards in the Kildare and Newbridge environs leaves me in no doubt but that this is well-organised theft of very saleable and valuable pets.
One caller into my radio slot last friday reported his five dogs- three gundogs and two greyhounds, all pets- stolen from behind a high fence in his stable yard outside Monasterevin the night before.
My information, from animal welfare people " in the know", is that these thefts are destined for the UK pet market where there is still demand for certain breeds. I would like to know what checks and query systems are in place at the ferry ports if this is the case.
I have three simple pieces of advice for worried pet owners. Firstly, get your pet microchipped and have a tag fitted to the collar stating "I am Micro chipped". Secondly, lock up your dogs at night and ensure day time access to your premises only through a visible front entrance.
Thirdly, Dont buy a pedigree dog in these straitened times as the dog pounds and welfare charities are full of worthy heinz 57 dogs in need of loving homes!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

JAWS - a 21st century cautionary tale.

This morning the phone rang at 8 am from an anxious local owner of an epileptic middle aged male German Shepherd named Jaws. Jaws is an impressive beast, the owner and all too often user of a set of good canine incisors and carnassials. He is therefore aptly named and his visits to the clinic are often an occupational hazard for the Vets and Nurses at Groome PetVets. Jaws' epileptic condition is compounded by the occasional bout of owner amnesia when it comes to giving the vital daily phenobarbital tablet to control Jaws' seizures.
His lady owner had been in hospital herself for two days, communications had missed a link at home in her absense, tablets had run out and the all important run to the vets for phenobarb was forgotten. So it was that I arrived out to find jaws prowling the garden in a state of semi-seizure, drooling and rolling his eyes -werewolf like- around his head as he staggered in the twilight zone between fits. Meanwhile the terrified family watched from the safety of the kitchen window too scared to venture out,knowing that Jaws normal truculence had a history of being exacerbated by epilepsy-induced disorientation in the post-seizure phase.
Armed with a plate of tranquilliser- laced dog food I ventured into the garden. The slight knot in my stomach reinforced my imagining of Richard Dreyfuss in a small boat on still water in the quiet moment before the shark struck, as I paused and met Jaws gaze. I could even hear the threatening two note musical pattern made famous by Spielbergs eponymous 1975 movie.
Luckily in this instance blood stain was avoided. Jaws did not prove to be a shark in wolf's clothing but simply a hungry dog who remembered he had missed breakfast.
Ten minutes after devouring his bowl of medicated food, Jaws was calmly snoozing as I administered his appropriate epilepsy medication.
A relieved family promised vigilance in therapeutic compliance in future!

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Case of misplaced affection

In the last two years or more of running my pets corner feature on Midlands radio I have been struck by the amount of queries relating to animal behaviour and training-not Veterinary medicine issues. These are the areas that vets arent formally educated to deal with but will learn by their own interest and experience at the cutting edge of animal science.
Some of the issues that crop up require a degree in Psychology, not Veterinary,and a liberal helping of innovation.
We had a young male labrador recently who demolished and swallowed a stiletto. This was diagnosed by x ray- showing the four inch heel clearly lodged in the stomach. The cost of the enterotomy procedure to remove this half shoe was - I was reliably informed by the irate lady owner - matched only by the cost of buying a new pair of shoes to match the new outfit for ladys day at punchestown. Brucie's next trick was to swallow an equally expensive silk stocking complete with suspender clip- fortunately this did emerge out the other end with the help of liquid paraffin .
This adventurous if somewhat deviant Labrador was christened Brucie the Canine Cross Dresser by the staff of Groome PetVets. Undoubtedly this behaviour would be a nightmare for any owner and illustrates the difficulties antisocial animal behaviour can cause. The simple common sense solution we proposed was neutering to calm young Bruces ardour and to ban him from the house. His owner invested in decent outdoor fenced and secure paddock area and both are now happy with the new arrangement.