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Edward Bassingthwaighte

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I was typing, frantically, cursing every misspelling that I had to backspace and correct, sweating on the hubbub of the overflowing waiting room. Trying to get the last case written up, and the medications sorted and... maybe, if I was lucky, take a sip of the vile, cold caffeine kick of my poor neglected coffee. A knock came on the consult room door. 

"Yep, what is it?" I asked, a hint of frustration in my tone.

A worried face peered through the cracked open door, one of our overworked, tired, harried vet nurses. "Sorry to interrupt!" she said "but there is a labrador just come in, an emergency, he's screaming in pain for no apparent reason intermittently, so I thought I'd better shoot him straight through, and jump the queue... Are you ok with that?"

"Absolutely!" I replied. I felt the weight of the crowd of people and animals in the waiting room, stacked in at 5 minute intervals to be greeted, a history sought, a "thorough" examination made, diagnosed, and medicated... lift off my shoulders. I felt about 50 kilos lighter, free for a little while.

The nurse ushered them in- a couple wrapped up in scarves and jackets, and a big black labrador with eyes like pie plates, shaking like a leaf. He came in, turned around, and suddenly uttered a shriek so piercing that it nearly lifted the top of my head right off. We all jumped, winced, and looked at each other.

"He's been doing this all morning, he was fine yesterday," they explained.

"Ok then, I will have a good look at him, see if I can find out what's hurting him," I explained.

I squatted down beside him, and he sniffed my hand, lovely friendly fellow. I took a moment to take in how he was standing, and something, something just wasn't quite right. It nagged at me, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. Something was missing from this labrador picture. Then, all of a sudden, I realised. His tail was still. No thrashing, waggy joyfullness!

"Is he normally a waggy dog?" I asked.

They looked a bit mystified, but replied... "Well yes, he is super waggy."

"Not today though," I pointed out to them.

"Why, he isn't, is he!" they replied.

I laid my hands on him, slowly, carefully, letting him get used to my touch. I started at his head, gently feeling into the complex of joints and muscles, palpating, sensing, feeling. His neck was ok. Then I moved down towards his ribcage, through his lower back, and all was fine- tense, jumpy, afraid of the pain, but nothing wrong. As I approached his tail, his head swung around all of a sudden, and his eyes got even wider. I soothed him a little, lightened my touch, and slowly, ever so slowly, worked my hand to the base of his tail. Here, the muscles were spasmed, tight as a rock, trembling with pain and tension.

Keeping my hand on the base of his tail, very carefully watching his eyes as I started to release some of the tension, I explained what was going on. "His tail is out, a bit like having your neck out - so when he moves it the wrong way, or bumps it, it really hurts, and he screams."

I continued to gently ease his tail, stretching it from side, working my fingers into the deep knots of tension. I was watching him very carefully, as I had to calibrate the pressure of my touch with exquisite sensitivity... His eyes were so eloquent- widening with worry every time I moved to a new area, then going all heavy lidded and sleepy looking as I ever so carefully released the pain and tension. At the same time, the strung tight tension in his body slowly let go and relaxed - his head started to soften and drop, his ears slid down the side of his head, and after a while he took a big deep sigh. His jaw unclenched, and he looked around at me with a big dribbly labrador grin. His people relaxed too.

"I didn't know vets did this stuff," he said. "I can see that it's really helping him though!"

"Most vets don't," I explained. "This is something I've learned for myself over the years.

I worked right along his tail, and then gently stretched it out from the base right to the tip three times. He shook himself, gently, very carefully, gave a snort, and then even gently wagged his tail a bit.

"Look at that!" she said. "He's wagging!"

"He is!" I replied. "He's a lot better- I will give you some pain relief for a couple of days, and have you back in the day after that finishes to see how he's going."

"Thanks so much," they said. "We'll see you then."

He came back in later that week, tail thrashing like a threshing machine, jumping all over me, a thoroughly happy dog!

**I am in the early stages of planning a Whole Energy Balancing workshop for late March. It will be a one day workshop, held on a Sunday from 10am to about 5pm. You will learn some foundational techniques, all of which will deepen your connection with your dog, and while releasing tension and trauma from your dogs body, mind and spirit. It will be held at Uki (at our place). Investment is $110 for the day, $90 for pensioners/concession. The workshop I did late last year (was it so long ago!) was very well received, people loved it, got a lot out of it, and could see really wonderful shifts in their dogs.

If you're interested, please click on the link below (where you will be asked to sign up to the email list). I will email you all soon with further details. Also, please share this story with anyone you think might be interested in the workshop...*
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"Are you the vet who comes to people's houses?" she asked. It was early, and I was half asleep. I gathered myself together and replied...

"Yes, that's me - how can I help you?"

"Well, my cat has a very sore, fat foot, he won't let me touch it, and he's just sitting there growling and hissing," she explained.

"I can help you with that," I said. "Are you home today?"

And she was, so I made a time. Marianne (now my wife) had just moved to Townsville to live with me, and I invited her along to come out for the drive, and to see what I did out at work. She was excited!

Before long we arrived, knocked on the door, introduced ourselves, and were sitting on the couch. The cat was in a corner, ears laid back, growling to himself, holding a swollen front foot up off the ground. Marianne was perched on the couch beside me, watching.

"I'm really worried about him," she explained. "He's even a bit off his tucker, and normally he's a pig. Do you think it's anything serious?"

"Has he been in a y cat fights recently?" I asked.

"Now you mention it, he did manage to get out a couple of nights ago, and the was a bit of a scuffle and some yowling."

"He's got a cat fight abscess," I explained. "I'll have a bit of a look at him to make sure, but it's a classic picture."

I went over to him, and the growling got louder. I carefully got a very, very firm grip on his scruff, and managed to have a feel of his foot without being maimed by the waving paws, claws out, or his very sharp teeth. His growling and wailing and hissing reached biblical proportions, but I did manage to examine him in the end.

"Yes, It's definitely a cat fight abscess," I explained. "All hot, swollen, painful. I will need to sedate him, then I can lance it, relieve the pressure, and give him some antibiotics. He'll be right as rain in a few days."

"That's a relief!" his mum said. "I thought he was going to take your hand off when you were looking at him, though. I've never seen him so angry."

"It's very painful, that will be why he's carrying on like a pork chop," I explained.

I went out to the the van, and collected all I needed- sedative injection, the antidote to wake him up afterwards, gloves, a fresh scalpel blade, a big handful of swabs, and a 20 ml syringe with sterile saline in it to flush the abscess out with. I came back in, carefully scruffed Mr Grumpy, and injected the sedative in. He wailed in anger and rage, and waved his sharp bits around with evil intent, but I had him in such a grip that he couldn't reach me. I let him go, and five minutes later his head was nodding. Soon after, he was a relaxed puddle on the floor. Marianne and the lady were chatting away happily.

"Ok- I'm going to pop this abscess," I explained. 

I took the scalpel, and jabbed it into the middle of the swelling, then cut a cross shaped hole, so it could drain well. Pus welled out, and the smell galloped through the room, assaulting our nostrils. It was one of the smelliest cat abscesses I had ever had the misfortune to encounter. Marianne was standing nearby, watching. As the smell hit her, her face went pale, and her legs grew wobbly.

"I feel a bit strange," she said, "like the world is wobbly."

"I'd sit down right now, If I was you," I said.

She collapsed on the couch, looking rather pale, and I pressed on, squeezing what seemed like gallons of pus out the poor cats foot, absorbing it into the swabs, then flushing out the wound. I cleaned it all up, bagged up the smelly mess, and gave him the injection to wake him up. About five minutes later he was wriggling, and soon after was sitting up and carefully cleaning his wound. the growling was all gone.

"Are you ok?" I asked Marianne.

"I think so, I went all over funny there for a bit, but I'm fine now."

"He looks so much happier already," The cat's mum said.

"Yes," I said. "As soon as you let the pressure off, they feel so much better. Make sure he gets his antibiotics every day, and he'll be just fine."

*I am in the process of writing a book based on these stories, so if you'd like the occasional story only available to my email list, and to have an opportunity to be a first reader, click here and sign up! You can also check out my website, where all these stories will be archived on the blog.* 
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"Hello dear - my little budgie needs his nails clipping again, would you be able to come around and see to him for me?" the old voice was familiar, one of my old clients. Old in several ways - firstly because I saw her every month or so, and secondly because she had at least one foot in the grave on a bad day.

"Of course I can," I replied.

"What did you say, dear? I'm a bit deaf, really..."

"I CAN COME AROUND TOMORROW MORNING," I shouted as gently as I could down the phone.

"Ooh, that would be perfect, see you then, dear," she said, and hung up the phone with a thump.

The next  day I pulled up outside a block of generic public housing flats, with straggling gardens out the front, and a healthy dose of poverty on the inside. I walked up along the path, and knocked on her door. The little budgie squeaked and chirped away inside.

"Hang on dear, I'll be just a minute, I can't move too fast these days," she shouted from inside.

She tottered to the door, unlocked it and let me in. There were two threadbare chairs, a TV, some faded knickknacks, and a cage with the bird inside. She tottered back to the chair and eased herself carefully back down into it's grasp. I sat on the other chair, and got my nail clippers out.

"She's such a lovely little bird," the old lady told me, smiling gently and rocking in her chair. "She talks away to me all day long, keeps me company, she does!"

I gently extracted the little budgie from her cage, making sure that I had her head held gently but firmly, so she couldn't bite me. I carefully clipped off the long and twisted nails and then set her free in the cage. She fluttered up to the perch and sat there grumbling and chirping away, putting her feathers to rights, glaring at me now and then.

"She's all done," I told the old lady.

"Oh, thanks dear, I can rest easier now I know my little bird's alright again," she said. "How much is it then?"

"Same as always, twenty dollars," I said.

"Are you sure that's enough, dear?" she asked, peering at me through her glasses.

I looked at her, thinking of the first time I came to see her bird, and the delicate balance I had to find, charging just enough to conserve her pride, but the absolute minimum that I could, because I knew that she was as poor as a church mouse, eking out an existence on the pension. That little bird was the brightest spark in her life and I just wanted to help out without making her go hungry this week.

"It's plenty, it was only a quick job!" I assured her.

"Very well dear," she said, as she fumbled a well worn twenty dollar bill out of a very old and worn purse. "There you go, and thanks so much for looking after my little friend."

I picked up my bag, and went back out into the steaming hot sun. Behind me I could hear the old lady chatting away to her little bird, and the bird chirping back to her. It warmed my heart.

 *I am in the process of writing a book based on these stories, so if you'd like the occasional story only available to my email list, and to have an opportunity to be a first reader, click here and sign up! You can also check out my website, where all these stories will be archived on the blog.* 
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Finally, I was getting to do some horse work. The only reason for this was that the boss and his family were away on a holiday, so for a couple of weeks, I was feeling like a real horse vet. The young colt was nervy, ears twitching, eyes rolling, ready to jump and fright at the slightest movement. I eased up to him, let him sniff my hand, and took a while to let him get to know me. I rubbed him between the eyes for a little, and some of the tension started to relax out of his body. Then he started chewing and licking at his lips, and I knew he would be ok with me. 

"He's a lovely little fella, isn't he?" I said  to the owner.

"Yes, he'll make a grand gelding, that's for sure," he replied. 

I went back to the truck and got all the things I needed together - a syringe loaded up with a sedative, a bucket with antiseptic to clean up before making the cut, scalpel blades, a couple of syringes of local anaesthetic with a long needle attached to numb the testicles with, cotton wool, tetanus injection, and me, nervous at my first ever horse castration on my own. I took a deep breath, checked that I had everything I needed for the tenth time, and then picked it all up and walked back out to the horse. I took the lead, and gently tipped his nose towards me, as I slipped the needle into the bulge of his jugular vein, drew back a puff of blood, and then slowly injected the sedative into his bloodstream.

"He'll be sleepy in a minute," I said, covering up my nerves with outward confidence. "Just keep quiet, let him settle..."

"OK, I will do," came the reply.

We stood quietly in the sun for the next five minutes and the little horses head nodded slowly towards the ground, bottom lip hanging loosely.  It was time, so I had the owner stand to the same side as me, and keep the horses nose tipped towards me. I gently eased my way along his side, stroking, and being careful to keep my left hand on his hip, so if he kicked out, I'd be pushed away, safely. I had the bucket with me, and I soaped up and cleaned the surgical site. Then came the nervous bit, inserting the needle. I held the syringe in my teeth, and got a firm grip on the far side testicle. I positioned the needle, and then flicked it right in! He twitched a little, and settled, and I let out a breath I didn't know I'd been holding. I attached the syringe, and gently, slowly, squeezed a generous amount of local anaesthetic into the testicle. I repeated this with the near side one. He lifted his hind foot, this time, just a little, but enough to make my heart jump into my mouth.

I left him for another 10 minutes for it all to go very numb indeed, then got back into position - disturbingly vulnerable, and very close to his hind legs. I made a bold incision in one stroke, and then clamped and cut off the testicle with the special crushing and cutting tool, holding it as tightly as my hands could grip for 5 minutes before releasing it's grip, and again breathing with relief when there was no bleeding. I did the other side, cleaned him up, and gave him all the injections, before heading off to my next call. 

Suddenly the radio crackled into life.

"The horse you just saw!" - her voice was tense with urgency, and my gut tensed up in response - "the owner says he got cast in his stall and was down struggling for a bit, and now he's got something hanging out of the wound. You'd better get back as soon as you can and see what's going on."

I was already turning around, and I flogged that poor old ute unmercilessly, seeing visions of disaster, a major hernia, a terrible bleeder, having to euthanize the horse, how the boss would respond when he got back, my mind a whirl of fear and tension. I don't think I drew breath for the whole quarter of an hour it took me to get back there.

"He's in the stall!" a pale, worried face informed me.

I rushed in, and found him quite contentedly nibbling on some hay. I had a look underneath, and there was a bit of a blood clotabout two inches long hanging down, but he was just fine.

"He's ok," I told them, with a big grin of relief. "He must have just torn the skin wound a little when he was down, and there's a bit of bleeding form that, but nothing serious."

I got back on the road, very relieved indeed.

*I am in the process of writing a book based on these stories, so if you'd like the occasional story only available to my email list, and to have an opportunity to be a first reader, click here and sign up! You can also check out my website, where all these stories will be archived on the blog.* 
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I was lurking in the staff nook, a couple of hard and uncomfortable chairs, lonely in a bare little room. A library of mostly old and worn text books adorned the wall, and one of them lay on my lap, protective camouflage against the disapproving gaze of the boss's wife, our inestimable practice manager. I wasn't actually reading it, just whiling away the dead time before the next small animal consult came in, and I had to head out for a bite to eat, and go around on large animal calls. I bent my head to the page, just before her face popped around the door to check on me, wrinkles set in a map of misery and woe. Her face brightened as much as it humanly could to see me reading the textbook, then a car crunched to a halt on the gravel, and she vanished. I could hear a scuffle, panting, a few excited yelps, and before long I was handed the patient card. A brand new, fresh one! Fresh, white, unsullied by the foul and undecipherable scratchings of veterinarians, or at least for a few more minutes... I walked out to the waiting room. A half grown staffy puppy saw me, and bounced out to the end of his lead, straining to get to me, eyes bugging out with joy, feet churning on the slippery floor, whimpering and yelping. His mum hang onto the lead tightly, eyes wide, arms nearly being pulled out of their sockets. "Would you like to bring him in?" I asked, with a smile. "Sure," she said. Her dog towed her in it's wake as we went into the consult room, and I closed the door. I had to endure the crazy onslaught, a tsunami of jumping, licking, waggling frenzy! I squatted down and collared him, and did a little quick and dirty training around respecting my personal space. Before long he'd chilled out a bit, and was only moderately insane. He still ran around the room, sniffing, tail lashing, and occasionally throwing himself on one or the other of us for a pat. "What's up with him?" I asked. "Well, as you can see, he's pretty lively, but he seems to be looking a bit moth eaten, patchy in the coat," she explained. "I was wondering if he had mange or something?" "I did see that," I replied. "I'll give him a good check all over, then I'll take a skin scraping to check for mange mites." He thought me examining him was a play wrestle, so it took a while to get him up on the table, let alone examine him, and I was panting a bit (though not as much as him) and sweating gently by the time I'd finished. "He certainly seems rudely healthy except for the hair loss," I said. "I just need to nip out to get what I need to take the skin scraping, and also to recruit a bit of help to hold him still while I do it!" I collected a scalpel blade, some microscope slides, and a little bottle of paraffin oil. I also asked the boss's wife to come and help hold him. She bustled in, and got him in a vice like grip. He was going nowhere, and it was the matter of a moment's work to scrape the skin and hair off two or three tiny spots where he was looking a bit threadbare. I carefully scraped the results onto a slide, and dropped a bit of oil onto it all before gently spreading it out. I left her with the dog, and popped out to the microscope. I placed the slide on the platform, turned the light on, and clicked the lowest magnification lens into place before peering down and rotating the focus knob until everything leapt into sharp focus. The hairs were like big black sticks, and in among them were the squat, grub like forms of many, many, demodex mites. "He is mangy!" I told her. "Heaps and heaps of the little devils. We'll have to treat him with some medicine every day for a while, and have him back in for a skin scraping every two weeks until we get two clear ones. Staffies seem a bit prone to this, and they often get a bit of it when they are young. It should clear up pretty easily though." "Thanks so much," she said. "I was worried about him. He's such a dear little fellow." I scribbled my notes on the card as neatly as I could, and saw them out to the waiting room. I handed the card to the bosses wife, who was wearing a friendly smile for the client, veneered over the unhappy foundation of her normal state of being. I had my list of visits for the day, and I took my chance to escape while she was talking to the client. Freedom! Into the truck and away from the oppressive presence, free to be my own master for a few hours...

*I am in the process of writing a book based on these stories, so if you'd like the occasional story only available to my email list, and to have an opportunity to be a first reader, click here and sign up! You can also check out my website, where all these stories will be archived on the blog.* 
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The smell of cat, pungent and sharp, started to tickle my nostrils well before my hand actually touched the door, and I could see half a dozen feline faces peering out the window at me. A couple gave me a very put out look, and smartly vanished, the others stared at me with royal indifference. I knocked... "Hang on, hang on, I'll be there in a second," a terse voice came from inside, along with some clattering and thumping noises. The door opened. "Come on in then, don't let them escape!" - She was short, and a bit dumpy, looking up at me, impatient and restless. "Here- take a seat." I looked around. There were about 20 cats in the room, resting here and there on tables, shelves, in corners, on the arms of chairs - a few sat around her hubby, a man who seemed almost transparent as he read his newspaper. He glanced around the edge, and his face was blank, completely indifferent. The paper rose back up, a shield against the world and the cats. They were all orientals, slim, disdainful, and their penetrating voices filled the room. Litter trays were scattered hither and yon, many holding half hidden cat poos. The carpet was old and tired, and interweaved with cat hair, and the shelves were crowded with china nick nacks, dusty and kitch. "Right- it's this little girl whose sick," she told me, handing me a scrawny kitten before I could even open my bag and unlimber my computer. I was nonplussed, but I took her in my hands. "She's been off colour for a couple of weeks," I was informed, in no uncertain terms, but that was all I could elicit. She didn't know if she was eating, or not eating, or anything much at all, really. Her bones stuck through her dull and ragged coat under my fingers. "Has she been wormed?" I asked. "Of course she has!" Came the machine gun reply. I checked her all over, and took her temperature. She had a mild fever, so I prescribed some antibiotics, and told her to call me if she didn't improve. "Is this all of your cats?" I asked. "Oh no," she said, proudly. "These are only the house cats. All the toms, and the rest of them, are in the cattery. Come and have a look." She swept off, out the back door- and the smell of cat got a lot sharper as we walked through, almost making my eyes water. There were ranks of cages, 3 big stinky old tom cats, and a lot of queens, a couple calling plaintively to be mated, and 4 or 5 litters of kittens. "Do you vaccinate them?" I asked. "Oh- I do all that myself," she informed me. "You vets cost too much." I was ushered back into the room, extracted a couple of cats from my seat, and did up the bill. I made it as cheap as I could, and told her the price. Her face shrunk up in disbelief, and she slumped back into her chair. I was watching with a fair measure of disbelief myself, as if I'd reduced the price any more, it would have cost me money to do the job. "Jeez, that's a lot," she gasped. "Mmmm," I said, not allowing the slightest gap for any discussion. She pulled a cheque book out, and scribbled away, grunting and carrying on as if I was extracting a tooth without anaesthetic. She thrust it towards me, and unwillingly released the slip of paper into my grasp. I made my escape, stepping out of the catty fug and back into the fresh air. She never called me in again, but I really didn't miss that terribly much!    

*I am in the process of writing a book based on these stories, so if you'd like the occasional story only available to my email list, and to have an opportunity to be a first reader, click here and sign up! You can also check out my website, where all these stories will be archived on the blog.* 
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Her unsmiling, unhappy face popped through the doorway, and then out again, to the front desk. The phone rang, and with a huff, she answered it, dealt with the call. I was feeling that something was going on, but what? I pulled a text book out of the library, and sat down again, looking (I hoped) as if I were researching some case. Her head popped into view again, she took a breath as if to say something, and then disappeared again. Finally she walked in. "There's an alpaca needs vet checking, and blood collecting, and Peter's too far away to be able to do it, and it needs to be done now!" she blurted out. "You'd better go and do it. These are VERY valuable animals, so make sure you do a good job." She thrust a bit of paper with an address towards me, gave a sniff dripping with frustration and disapproval, and turned on her heel. I got myself together, and walked out through the waiting room to my truck. Her dark eyes followed me, glaring, a palpable pressure on my back as I stepped out the door. The constant weight of her displeasure lifted off my shoulders as I shut the door and turned the key. The old truck kicked into life, and I took off, simply happy to be out on the road, and away from the pit of gloom and misery that was the main clinic. It was a long drive, plenty of time to enjoy the day. The sun, a clear, burning spark in the huge blue bowl of the sky, an early autumn day, warm, dry, and a sense of deep contentment washed through me. I had an afternoon to myself! I'd never seen an alpaca before - they were the next big thing, people were paying tens of thousands for them, and a baby one was worth a lot of money as soon as it hit the ground. Hence the examination and blood collection, for insurance purposes. I meandered from the flat sandy coastal plains, up into more hilly country, with the twisted beauty of trees dancing across the landscape. Finally I pulled up at the farmhouse, and a cheery fellow in a stained hat and well worn work clothes unfolded himself from the steps, taking my hand in a firm grasp, and introducing himself, quietly. "They're just down the back," he informed me. "Could you give me a lift? "Sure," I replied. I had to collect the pile of worksheets and papers from the passenger seat to make a clear space for him, and we rolled off up the hill. He was a man of few words, but the silence was companionable, comfortable. "There they are," he said. I pulled over, and killed the clatter and racket of the diesel engine. The silence of the bush, embellished with occasional bird calls, embraced us. I gathered a stethoscope, a syringe, vacutainers for the blood, and went over with him to the alpaca, and her cria. She looked at me with big, liquid eyes, and I looked back with a little trepidation. I knew they were inclined to spit big gobs of foul smelling spit on people! "She'll be ok," he told me, with a quiet smile. "I'll hold her, you check the little one over." The little one was asleep, and I squatted down. As I touched her, she opened her eyes, and gently stretched, but stayed there, all curled up. I checked her all over, listened to her heart, took her temperature, all fine. As I did so, the head of her mother gently and anxiously danced around my vision, as her long neck craned here and there, and she carefully observed what I was doing to her baby. She sniffed at me, and gently checked me out. Finally, I got the man to help me hold the little one, and drew out a couple of tubes full of blood from her gently pulsing jugular vein. "She seem totally fine," I told him. I just need to fill in all the paperwork for you, and get the bloods processed, but I can't see any problem." He just nodded, a man of few words. He had a deep happiness about him though, and nothing needed to be said. I got back in the truck, and cruised gently back towards the home base. I was even out of reach of the two way radio, a rare and wonderful thing. It wasn't too long before the boss's wife's voice crackled and cut through my revery, though... "Edward! Can you hear me? I've been calling you for ages! There's a calving to do on your way home, they've been waiting for an hour now, and I need you to get there right now! Are you there?" Her displeasure was clear in the tone, abrasive and cutting. She signed off with an audible sniff, and I replied after a moment or two, stealing a last little bit of peace before being sucked back into the vortex of work.

*I am in the process of writing a book based on these stories, so if you'd like the occasional story only available to my email list, and to have an opportunity to be a first reader, click here and sign up! You can also check out my website, where all these stories will be archived on the blog.* 
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The front door was open, and the trolley of the Coles delivery truck sat empty just outside. The delivery man and the lady whose puppy I was about to vaccinate (yes, I do vaccinate puppies, I just don't re-vaccinate dogs unless they really need it, which is hardly ever) suddenly popped out.

"I knew you were going to turn up at the same time," she smiled.

Before long we were settled inside. Her little boy was carrying the puppy around, happily, and it took quite a bit of persuasion to winkle the little fellow out of his grasp. The puppy was a joyful little wriggle on my lap, very small, a miniature foxie. I carefully checked him all over, and then went out to get the injection. We had to persuade her son to release the little fella once more after I came back in, and he watched with big eyes as I slipped the needle under the puppies skin. He yelped a bit, and the little boy's face crumpled up with worry.

"It's ok, darling," his mum told him, with a hug. "He need to have this needle to stop him getting sick."

I handed the puppy back to her son, and he walked off, chattering away to the puppy nineteen to the dozen.

"He's been carrying that puppy everywhere," she told me. "It's funny, he really listened to you teaching him how to carry the puppy on your last visit."

"Yes, I noticed he's not being lugged around by his head any more," I smiled.

"We had a birthday party for my son the other day, and you should have seen him teaching the other kids, and even the grown ups, the proper way to pick up the puppy. He was straight up to a couple of the mum's and dad's 'This is how you pick him up, the vet told me how to do it!' Really made me smile."

"It's funny how they listen to someone else more than their parents like that, isn't it?" I commented.

"It is," She replied. "He loves that puppy, it's feet seldom get a chance to hit the ground. I'm having a bit of trouble with toilet training him though, because as soon as I put the puppy outside, he lets him straight back in again!"

"Having a timer might help," I suggested. "Set it for 10 or 15 minutes when you put him out, and then your kids can see when he's allowed back in again. Also, during the day, so you don't forget, what with having two kids keeping you on your toes, set a timer to go off every two hours or so, so you put him out before he needs to go to the toilet, and does it on your floor."

"Those are good ideas!" she said. "I'll try them out."

I am in the process of writing a book based on these stories, so if you'd like the occasional story only available to my email list, and to have an opportunity to be a first reader, click here and sign up! You can also check out my website, where all these stories will be archived on the blog.
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I had just managed to get my lunch on the table, when the goddamned phone rang. I looked at it like it was a viper. And then bowed to the inevitable and picked it up. At my job in Western Australia, the bosses wife usually fielded the after hours calls, and then called me. She was away, and today it was their eldest daughter who was on the job. Her voice was worried... "Hi Ed," she said, all in a rush, words tumbling one over the next, "There's a little girl here been stung by a bee, and she's having trouble breathing - we've rung the ambulance, but they will take longer to get here than you could, and she might need to have some adrenalin. Could you get over here as soon as you can?" "I'm on my way," I replied, popping my plate of food in the fridge. "See you when I get there." I hopped in my work car, the old nissan ute, and squeezed every bit of acceleration I could out of the old girl, engine bellowing as I worked her up through the gears. I was more than a little stressed as I drove through the sandy, dried out, brown landscape. Animals I could deal with. Having to inject a human? That was a different story, and disastrous scenarios played themselves out in my head as I sped on my way to the clinic. Before long, my wheels were crunching on the gravel driveway. I hopped out, and hurried inside. A young girl was sitting on a chair in the consult room, looking pale, and in a bit of distress, but not really struggling to breathe. Her mum was hovering in the background, and the bosses daughter was fluttering about, pale faced and in distress. You could have cut the tension in the room with a knife, and I had to take a deep breath, try to hold my space. "You took long enough to get here!" she told me. "I've been on the phone to the ambulance people three times since I called you, they told me to ring them back again as soon as you got here." She was punching numbers into the phone as she spoke to me, and it took her three goes to get the number right. She spoke to the person on the other end of the line, then handed me the phone. "Hello - you the vet?" a calm voice asked me. "How are things going there?" "Well, I just got here, and the little gorl who has been stung seems to be going ok. She's having a little difficulty in breathing, but not a lot..." "Ok - it sounds like There's a bit of a panic going on with everyone else, am I right?" he asked me. "Yes, you could say that," I replied. "I think it would be a good idea to give her one millileter of adrenalin subcutaneously. It can only help, and won't do any harm. The ambulance will be there in about 15 minutes," he explained.  I hung up the phone, and quickly cracked the top off the little glass vial of adrenalin before drawing the clear liquid up into a syringe. I was totally focused on injecting this into a very unfamiliar leg. No hair! A human! I was freaking out, and so focused that I'd clean forgotten about the kid who I was about to inject this into.  "Look away, darling," her mum said, as I gently pinched up a fold of skin on her leg. I looked up, into a pair of scared eyes, and connected with her. "Yes," I said, "look away, this will sting just a little bit, then you might feel a bit funny, but your breathing will get easier." I slipped the needle under her skin, and gently squeezed the adrenalin in. I took a deep breath in relief, and sat back on my heels. Her mum hugged her, relief graven deep on her face. The bosses daughter was still fluttering ineffectively around the room, not helping anyone much at all. "Thank you so much," the kid's mum said, holding her close. "You're welcome," I said. I tidied up, and left them to have a little privacy, as much as I could. It seemed like only half a minute before the ambulance pulled up out the front, and the two uniformed men came in, all cool, calm efficiency. They checked the girl out, and then decided to take her back to the hospital for observation. The clinic was empty, silent, except for me and the bosses daughter. I escaped just as soon as I politely could, and drove home, wondering at the craziness of my life as a vet!

*I am in the process of writing a book based on these stories, so if you'd like the occasional story only available to my email list, and to have an opportunity to be a first reader, click here and sign up! You can also check out my website, where all these stories will be archived on the blog.*
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"Hi there," the voice echoed on my phone. "Are you the healing vet fella?" "Yes, I am," I replied. "How can I help?" "We got a new kitten, and he went outside last night, and we think he got attacked by something. He seems ok this morning, but I would really like for you to come and check him over, just to be sure..." "I can do that," I replied, and got the address. Later that day I was driving through the curving, extraordinarily potholed road from Uki towards Kyogle. Sweeping bends, all lined with the curving rough branched and deep shiny greens of camphor laurel trees (feral, invasive, not native to Australia) and the tall, straight, white trunks of eucalypt trees reaching for the sky. The weedy tangle of lantana often choked out the undergrowth, and then there would be the short, neat, cropped contrast of paddocks, dotted with grazing cattle. The sun shone fitfully through a damp cloak of clouds, and the world rang with the songs of birds, and the thrumming, unheard intensity of sub-tropical life. I pulled into the driveway, after opening the gate. A bumpy dirt track led me to a small house, surrounded by veggie patches, and nestled under some trees, looking out over the valley. A warm smile and layers of hippy clothes welcomed me in, and gave me a cup of tea. "We just got this little fellow a few days ago, for my daughter," she explained (a small tabby kitten was furiously attacking the fringe of a cloth hanging down from a chair, lying on his back, legs kicking, teeth embedded in his imaginary prey, before he suddenly leaped up and bolted off, bouncing in many directions like a furry little rubber ball. "Last night he went outside, we thought just to go to the toilet, when we heard an awful scream. I rushed out to see what was happening, and I found him- he'd pooed himself, had it all over him, and seemed a bit shocked, so I brought him back in, and we gave him a bath to get the poo off. He didn't like that much, I tell you. He seemed ok, and as you can see, he's pretty lively today, but I just wanted to make sure." I managed to catch the little kitten, though it took a while, because he moved like quicksilver, and wanted nothing more than to be left to play. I picked him up, and did my best to examine him. He was a dark tabby, and really didn't want to be confined, so he attacked my hand, with sharp little teeth and then went to killing it with his back feet, raking them both as fast as he could. It was all play, however, as he didn't draw any blood. In the end I had to gently restrain him by the scruff, while my fingers searched and palpated all over his body. I could feel a spot on his side, the tummy wall, where the muscles had been torn, and there was a small hernia through to the abdominal cavity. He hissed and spat a bit, especially when I took his temperature.. He went all sideways, puffed up his tail, and started to hunt and kill a bit of paper on the floor, sway and pouncing. "I can't find a thing wrong with him," I explained. "I think he probably ran into a fox, and you are very lucky indeed to still have a kitten. I'd say the fox grabbed him, but not hard enough to injure him too badly. It does feel like one tooth has torn the muscles in his side, but it doesn't seem to be hampering him much!" The kitten made a tremendous leap onto a bead on the floor, and started batting it with his paws, and chasing it here and there. "He must have frightened the fox enough with his cream, and pooing himself, to make it let him go... " "We're pretty lucky then," She said. "You sure are. Keep an eye on him, and watch that funny spot on his side. There is a very small chance that some of his insides could buldge through there and get pinched off. He'd need emergency surgery if that happens. If it did, the swelling would get bigger, hard, and very painful to touch, and he'd be obviously sick. I'm really only explaining this as a precaution though, I don't think it's likely to happen." "Ok, we'll keep an eye on him then," she told me. We finished out cuppa, and talked about the world for a while, before i was seen off with a cheery wave.

*I am in the process of writing a book based on these stories, so if you'd like the occasional story only available to my email list, and to have an opportunity to be a first reader, click here and sign up! You can also check out my website, where all these stories will be archived on the blog.*
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