Vet Tails Excerpt

Vet Tails Excerpt – To read more about my adventures, read Vet Tails available as a book or e-book from
As a young veterinary graduate under Rose’s supervision I had the opportunity to develop my surgical skills further from doing more elaborate soft tissue surgery to some orthopaedics. As my skill developed I would be allowed to take on more difficult cases, one of which was a police dog with a huge tear of its skin right across its back that needed a special type of surgery using a skin flap. Apparently a burglar was loose (some excitement in our relatively peaceful city!) and the police were tracking him through several properties with the help of police dogs. One of the dogs got distracted from their chase, saw our patient and took a munch of its back. Our patient’s policeman handler pulled him back causing the skin of the dog to rip away and we had a a three hour job of fixing him up!

Biting dogs are a real challenge to work with. It never ceases to amaze us how many owners have an aggressive dog who they’re scared of but they think that the vet can wave their magic wand, put the dog into a trance and do what we need to. Little Russ was a biter but thank goodness he was a Jack Russel and not a Rottweiler which gave us a slightly easier job of handling him. The night he came in he had been in a dog fight and the front part of his lower jaw broken. It was literally hanging off but he was still trying to bite me!

It’s interesting how life works, as in order to fix Russ’s broken jaw we had to wire his jaw in position so that it remained fixed in place and shut for six weeks to allow the bones time to heal. During this time he was fed via a tube that was placed through a hole in the side of his neck that fed directly into his stomach. It was most amusing to have Russ come in for a check up and realize that he couldn’t bite us and amazingly through this process he learned not to bite us even when we removed the wires from his jaw weeks later!

When a patient of ours dies, it can be a sad time and we send a sympathy note to the owner together with a touching poem to offer some support for their grief. One of these poems is called “Letters in the wood”.

One day I needed to give an injection to an old dog whose legs were failing. When I put my hand out to him he was pretty quick to take a bite which was most unexpected given that he appeared docile and was a Labrador cross but sometimes pain can make even the friendliest dog react in this way.

Although I believe that I have limited culture, never really embracing theatre or poetry, together with my aching hand, memory of this poem and sick sense of humour I was inspired to write a poem. I’m not too sure if my high school English teacher would approve but here it is:

Scars On My Hand

Wherever I go He follows Me
I feel the throb lingering again
There aren’t many moments
That I can forget the pain

Even though He has left me
And others have come and gone
The experience that we had
Will be with me for very long

That brief moment that we had together
Remains there in my past
The memory of his teeth scraping into my hand
Forever it will last

All I wanted was to pat Him
And to try to understand
But all that I am left with
Are scars on my hand
At one of our vet meetings I told my colleagues that I had a very serious presentation to give and read them my poem, they were most amused!