Saturday, 31 January 2009

Ferret Op

Ferrets you either like them or hate them. I happen to be in the like them camp. They can be smelly but so can a lot of things and they are generally sweet natured. They do not often bite but if they do then those teeth really do lock into their meal, and if it is your finger, their logic is simple, it was there, so obviously it was meant to be their meal.
Ferrets are very playful and can bend into amazing shapes, not to mention get through incredibly small holes.

Ferret Females are called “jills” if you are not going to breed them they should be spayed. If not mated they will remain in season. You can use a male ferret that has had a vasectomy to bring them out but spaying is a lot easier.
If they are left in season they may get infection via the vulva but that is of minor concern. The real danger is she will also continue to produce estrogen which will lead to bone marrow suppression and anaemia and finally death if left untreated.

Tonight we had a very worried owner turn up with her ferret, it had been spayed yesterday and the sharp little teeth had chewed through the sutures. This resulted in the incision opening up and a sloge of fat called omentum hanging out.
The owner, and most people mistake this for intestines. Luckily though animals that break sutures in their abdomen through chewing or other methods do not generally dump intestines out, although l have seen it happen but only a couple of times.
It is almost impossible to use a buster collar on a ferret, if they are going to get their stitches out then they are gonna do it and nothing anyone can do will stop them. In a dog or cat though, if you are given a buster collar, use it.

The owner needless to say was distraught; l calmed her, promised her that the little ferret would be fine it was not as bad as it looked (and no, it really wasn’t too bad) and left her filling in paperwork. I took the little maniac into the back.
She was most unhappy at being restrained especially as she was a meat eater and could smell blood and wanted a snack the fact it was herself was immaterial. One of the nurses tried to sort a buster collar so l could let go the writhing ferret but it was impossible to keep it on her so l held her, in every conceivable shape she was bending herself into.

She was given a GA as soon as all the paperwork was filled in and was thankfully soon sleeping peacefully. I had cramp in my hands. My main worry was the wriggle bot would decide my fingers smeared with blood were a snack and try to take a chunk out of me, to be fair she was very well behaved though.

Within half an hour everything was stitched back inside. This time she had sub-cut (under the surface hidden stitches) so that there was nothing to “worry” on and chew through, and a line of surgical glue was a final layer over the incision. The bruising on the incision site is due to her teeth chomping away and nails scrabbling. She was snuggled into a blanket, given a couple of “hot hands” (silicone gloves filled with hot water) and allowed to come round slowly till her reversal injection was due shortly after l left.

As you can see by her pre op photo l snapped, she is not worried and just wants to know what is going on and who is who. It took about 6 photos to get that one she was so wriggly, l had almost given up.

Hey Where Am l?

Asleep and about to be preped

Omentum Cleaned and Trimmed

All Hidden, Start Resuture

What Incision?


Thursday, 29 January 2009

Providing Fluids

I decided to explain some of the basic ways that we provide fluids and medications to animals that are hospitalised. And figured l would pop up some photos of animals l have got catheters in. I remembered to take photos of 2 of the puppies l do not usually bother to take photos iv catheters are so routine. The kitten was so pathetic looking l had to take a photo.
The iv catheter is hidden in the blanket on the second pup l wanted to show his size and forgot the leg.
I am lucky that because of the emergency work l see so varied an array of patients in size and type.

On admit most animals have an IV catheter placed so we can give them fluids and certain medications directly into the vein. The smaller animals can be a nightmare to get an iv catheter in. The problem with the smallies is that there is no decent handles on them to grab. They generally wriggle a lot and your fingers trying to raise the vein are somehow always in the way.

Puppies are usually the worst, as they get better they often end up with a buster collar on or they chew out their iv. If the nibbling has not been noticed this brings the “It is your turn to go play with the little git” comments.

You can give fluids various ways. Into the scruff off the neck but not much at a time, it takes a long time to absorb and it often hurts.
Birds are crop fed via syringe and a special long curved sort of blunt feed ended needle.

Interperitoneal (into the abdomen) but in the youngsters it is always nerve racking that they may move at the wrong point and are so small everything so tight.

In rabbits iv catheters are generally placed in the ear. I have never liked ear veins they are so fiddly and easy to damage. We tend to pop on some local anaesthetic cream but the rabbit still jumps at just the wrong moment. And no matter how much you clip the hair is so fine it is almost impossible to totally remove so you have it covering the area you need to see.
As an added bonus we often need to syringe feed a lot of rabbits. Some take it well others cause more stress damage to their mental health than the good of getting food into them can do.

For the very young animals there is the syringe feed. You can be sure you get these in when you are rushed off your feet. And it is never a quick job. First they hate the syringe, they hate the replacement milk. To fast the milk goes into their lungs and they risk inhalation pneumonia, then there is peeing and pooping them. And often after you have done this they want more food as there is now more room so the repeat takes place, usually after the second lot they will sleep. If they are gluttons and love the syringe and replacement milk then they try and gulp it and scream when you decide they have had enough for that feed. So you end up taking even longer as they want more and won't settle.

The bird and the rabbit ear l admit to borrowing from the web as l have none handy l will place the rabbit ears onto my need to photo list. The other patients in these photos survived and were discharged, enjoy the awww factor.

Puppy with Haemorrhagic Gastro Enteritis (vomiting and shitting blood)

Another HGE Puppy with a pen leaning against him to show size

Abandoned Kitten Being Syringe Fed

Rabbit Ear Clipped for Catheter into Vein

Crop Feeding

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Top 21 Dog Walks UK

Hill's Pet Nutrition and National Tourist Boards, Enjoy England, VisitWales and VisitScotland have announced the UK's 21 top dog walks

Voted for by more than 5,500 members of the public, the list includes places all over the UK, stretching from the Fife Coastal Path all the way down to the Portsmouth Seafront. Amanda Smyth, Head of Marketing at Enjoy England says: "With the current economic climate and weak pound making holidays abroad much more expensive, we expect the number of families choosing to holiday in their own country next year to increase dramatically. What's more, a domestic break is often the easiest and best way to holiday with a pet, and with these 21 walks, if you holiday in the country, coast or even a city, there's no excuse not to take the dog!"

Now into its second year, the 21 Top Dog Walks campaign was set up to help increase awareness of canine obesity, which now affects up to 50 per cent of dogs.

The 21 top dog walks for 2008 are (in alphabetical order):

Beaulieu - Hampshire
Chislet to Marshside - Kent
Cuerdon Valley Park - Lancashire
Daisy Nook - Lancashire
Dinder common & Sharcombe Park Woods - Somerset
Dinton Pastures - Berkshire
Druridge Bay - Northumberland
Fife Coastal Path - Fife
Halkyns Four Peaks - Flintshire
Heysham Old Village - Lancashire
Limekilns and Quarries - Flintshire
Looe to Polperro along the Coast Path - Cornwall
Milford Common to Shugborough Hall - Staffordshire
Millenium Ribble Link - Lancashire
Portsmouth Seafront - Hampshire
Preston Junction Nature Reserve - Lancashire
Round Chesterfield Walk - Derbyshire
Royden Park to Thurstaston Hill - Mersyside
Stoke Prior Canal - Worcestershire
Thieves' Wood - Nottinghamshire
Woods, Buffalo and Hill Forts - Flintshire

The shortlist is also available on the same website

Monday, 26 January 2009

Cleaning Up

Sorry l have been a bit slow in writing the last few days. l have come over the other side of the country to help a friend. Her father died in mid December and the house has needed a major sort out and clean. He was a bit of a pack rat. l have only come in on the tail end of it, post the major sort and removal of a couple of skips.
This week has seen me with buckets of hot water, sponges and dust cloths and a home made dust brush, a small hand brush taped to a walking stick to reach high places.
Wibble has been shunted from room to room but so long as she has her bed and knows l am within view so if she peeps round a door she is happy bless her.

He was one of the few model makers in the world that made his steam engines from scratch, most people buy kits he did not. His work was highly sought from steam engine collectors worldwide it was done on the 1” to 1ft scale.
He was a skilled cabinet maker and she is keeping a lovely desk and glass cabinet all hand crafted that he made.
Gardening was not her dad’s forte, though it will look nice when someone takes the time to do the garden.

He also loved birds, and wrens have a special place. There is a nest box in the garage that they use and he left a hole in the garage roof for them to get in and out the garage. The post box has a double floor in so that they can nest inside that. The top half is a working post box the lower is “ma and pa” wren and their little ones. Going back about 25 years of wren generations have used the garage and post box that must be a record for bird houses.

There is a hell of a lot of boxes to lift. The boot of my car is full of books we are doing them in relays, lifting boxes into the flat and collapse a box and collapse. Still quite a bit to bring back to the flat from the house.
A friend of hers is taking loads to his place, to store as he has room. He is also taking her pride and joy, a 1958 James that needs restoring her long term project. Dismantled in about 1983 she intended to put it back together the bits are all there it has been one of those “sometime” jobs.

If anyone is interested in buying a lovely bungalow in the Lincolnshire area please let me know l will pass the details on.

I am leaving here late Thursday evening so l miss the M62 traffic around Leeds. I will try and get some blogs up during this week but please bear with me if they are a bit slow going up.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Bloat (Photos Warning)

Had a busy night on Wednesday first a caesarean, a fast clean in theatre and a GDV/spleenectomy. The German Shepherd was a lucky dog. The owners thought that he had some fluid in his abdomen as he looked big and was retching.
The collection driver took one look got the dog into the van, verbal permission for starting treatment and got back to us fast. Bloat is a killer and every time l think people know about it l realise that there is someone that doesn’t.

Bloat or give it the fancy titles used, GDV, Gastric Dialated Volvulus, Gastric Torsion, Gastric Dilatation. This little gem has one outlook if not treated, a very nasty painful death. Bloat can affect any breed of dog however it is very rare that it will affect the small breeds. Usually it is the large or deep chested breeds. Amongst them Great Danes, Mastiffs, German Shepherd, Weimaraner. It is easier to say if you have a large breed dog then it carries a risk of GDV.

Several reasons seem to apply to why bloat happens but no one is really sure. Hereditary is defiantly a part of the reason. Some sort of chemical imbalance, exercise after a meal so there is a lot of lots of puffing sucks in air, enough goes to the stomach for problems to start. Often dogs that are fed one large meal a day are at higher risk and several smaller meals a day is often the better way to feed. Post GDV that is always the meal regime recommended.

The dog’s abdomen will look “bloated” as it fills with air which does not escape. The stomach does one of 2 things. It either twists or the entry and exit sphincters close off trapping air and food in the stomach. The food starts to ferment and produces more gas with no way out.
Dogs start to retch but nothing except sometimes froth may come up, known as unproductive retching/vomiting. Dogs will often cry as it is very painful.
As the stomach gets bigger it presses on the main blood supply as well as twisting other blood vessels and the body goes into shock. The blood supply cut off to the stomach which starts to die as necrosis sets in.
Sometimes as in the case the other night the spleen becomes caught up in the torsion and had to be removed as it became damaged. The spleen is full of blood when removed, last nights one was about 4 times normal size so there is a possibility of blood transfusion being needed.

Recognising the signs of bloat is easy dealing with it if you are used to it is easy. The emergency clinic l work at has what has been assessed as having the highest GDV case load in the country and there a GDV is a messy and backbreaking, because it is the big dogs that get them standard op. To give an idea there was a blot in Monday night and one in Wednesday.
The general vet practices go pale at the thought of a GDV it is the big ugly scary unknown operation, probably the one vets and vet nurses dread the most. In fact if they are unlucky they will get 1 a year.

Quick idea of protocol is:
1) Give strongest painkiller available to the practice
2) Place 2 iv catheters of the biggest bore you can. May not be possible as veins are in such a state but one must be placed.
3) Take bloods although may not be run (checked).
4) Place dog onto fluid and waz in the first 2* litres at high speed. (*Amount based on animal size)
5) A size 14G 2" catheter to decompress if needed by inserting into the stomach, this buys time for examination, lowers some of the pain and compression on blood vessels.
6) An ET tube and oxygen etc must be handy, they can collapse during decompress
7) An x-ray conscious or under GA can be taken or jump that and start to place stomach tube.
8) Other drugs as the vet deems needed.
Assuming the tube goes in then it is a dilatation if not under GA then needs a GA (general anaesthetic:
A) Have an empty bucket (stomach gunk to go into)
B) A bucket of water and a funnel
C) Pour water into stomach tube to flush stomach
D) Lots of incontinence sheets around op theatre
E) A step to stand on when pouring water, need to hold it high, then jump off stool and aim at end of tube at bucket. May need to jiggle tube and rock dog to get contents out and repeat for as long as it takes stool>>pour>> bucket>>stool>>pour>>bucket...
This in theory is easy but the vet wants things passed over or you need to check the patient and the tube falls out of the bucket and floods everywhere.
You slip getting off the stool, try not to fall and damage yourself on walls, tables or whatever and drop the tube which adds more smelly slodge to the walls and floor.
The paperwork you are trying to keep the op details on gets wet and of course not only rips but is impossible to write on properly.

Once the stomach is empty and the bucket and op theatre are full of smelly fermenting brown sludge the vet may do one of two things. Wake the patient up and arrange when it is better to do an elective gastropexy. This is an operation to suture the stomach to the abdominal wall to stop it twisting in the future. Or he will go in and do the op there and then. It is surgeon’s choice. There is a high probability that the dilatation may occur again and may turn into the dreaded torsion.

If the tube will not advance then the patient is prepped for surgery. The vet is threatened with castration via his throat if he tries to scrub before helping shift the dog from prep to op theatre. You would be surprised how many try this ploy and it is always the male ones.
Once the patient is “unzipped” the vet will then untwist the stomach manually. They may need to carry out a spleenectomy if the spleen is involved. Then flushing as per A to E is carried out.
If the stomach is badly damaged the necrotic dead black part is removed. This is done after the flushing so that stomach contents do not flood the abdomen.
Finally a gastropexy is carried out.
Once closed and cleaned they are back in critical care. General fluid therapy is continued, monitoring needs to be kept for heart arrhythmias that can occur and an eye on blood loss. Blood transfusions may be needed.

A long hard clean in a filthy op theatre it is amazing where the gunk gets to and it sticks like glue where it is thin and in other areas is a slimey drippy ick. Think l will go do human nursing they do not have this at 3:15am.

Intestines the thick red sausages the spleen is the black wadge on the right of them, everything is massively swollen.

The spleen when removed l laid it out for the photo, hard to see size but it is about 3 to 4 times the size it should be.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Wildlife Vet Work

Working with wildlife can be challenging and this video explains some of the pitfalls.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Kennels & Catteries

Despite the credit crunch I decided l would do a post for those who are going on holiday and what to look for in choosing a Kennels or Cattery for their pets.It is around the time of year to start looking as the good kennels are snapped up. On the face of it quite easy just open your telephone directory prod a finger at a selection, check the cost and maybe go down to look at them. Maybe ask a friend but their dogs and standards will be different to yours.

Well, if you want to do it that way fine, but l very much doubt that you will end up getting the best for your animals. You take them to kennels or catteries to be safe, so should you not apply a bit more examination in choosing the holiday home for pets?

I looked through nearly 30 kennels in looking for a suitable kennels for my lot to go into when we went back to Tenerife to do some work a couple of years after we had arrived back in the UK. Speaking to people l realise that there is a lack of knowledge over what should (ok by my standards) constitute a good safe environment. The list is not definitive just some points l look for and the reasons for it.

As l live in the NW l use the following Glenbrittle Kennels and Cattery Since then l have passed the name to many people. I advise people to go and check out the kennels to see that the standards are still high and they find them acceptable. I do not know if they used the kennels or not, then last year l know 2 people one a veterinary nurse friend of mine who used them after l recommended Glenbrittle both said the standards were still very high for both dogs and cats.

The following generally applies to dogs and cats, l have commented on some species specific things to watch for.

1) Are you welcome to call in and visit without an appointment to inspect them. I just turn up and see what sort of reception l get.

2) Do they insist on vaccinations being up to date and check the vaccination cards.

3) What are the security arrangements? The kennels l use has CCTV, someone on the premises 24hours a day. Animal areas are surrounded by a high security fence inward bent wire tops to prevent climb outs. And double door and roofed cat areas so that cats can not get out. Some kennels have double doors on kennel areas also a good policy but l feel critical for cat areas.

4) If your pet has special needs can they handle them. Discuss it and see if they know how to give and keep the medications or any injectable.

5) What vet do they use and are they willing to use your vet, assuming they are close enough. Make sure all health info is written out anyway if the pet has special needs and the kennels have details of your vet (even if unable to use them say due to distance). Clear with your vet that information can be given while you are away. Although it will automatically be exchanged between vets the kennels may have a query.

6) What are the kennels or catteries made from?
Wood is porous and can not be cleaned properly. It is often chewed so splintered, often has nails, screws or bits sticking out and is a lot easier for the determined dog to escape from.
Brick tiled is easier clean although cracked tiles will absorb gunk and can be mouldy from washing.
Plaster on brick walls are they chipped and dirty or kept clean and painted.

7) Floors should be non slip and sloped slightly downwards to the drains which should run across the front (outside) of the kennels. Concrete and drains should be clean and surround all animal living areas.

8) Catteries should be brick with forward facing views. The problem is that cats can become very stressed having strange cats looking in on them. If they do have views to the next door cat it should be glass separating them from the next door cat to avoid passing any of the cat viruses.

9) Dog kennels I prefer brick with forward facing views between dogs to avoid stressing dogs. Aggressive or nervous dogs should be in kennels where they can not see the dogs next to them for obvious reasons.
With dogs if there is mesh between kennels it should be double with a suitable gap so that there can be no bites through the wire. The mesh should be in good condition with no sharp or broken bits.

10) Doors should be metal frame and mesh door or metal frame and half metal and mesh door, not wood. They are easier to clean and more secure re comments on wood.

11) Each dog should have a separate and safe area sleep area and run, for cats a separate hidey house usually in the “run”.
I remember my Mum using a cattery that had a couple of big communal areas and all the cats went into them in groups. This causes huge stress for the cat, often leads to fights, health problems will be missed like bite wounds and urinary problems. If it is something like FUS (blocked bladders) these are classed as life threatening to the less dangerous cystitis. Food, water and toilet facilities will be in limited supply to nervous animals.

12) How are the kennels and catteries cleaned? do they use disinfectant and what sort and how? Are they just poured in or used at the correct concentration? Too weak will not only not kill the nasty’s it will allow them to become immune. Too strong and it may prove toxic, and set up problems for the animals.

13) What are the beds bedding and policy. I have seen places with raised metal beds you supply bedding, it was never washed looking at the state of it. Those whose owners had not brought bedding there was just metal beds. I have seen similar with plastic dog beds. If wood is used watch problems re wood.

The kennels l used have shredded paper, very warm, very deep and cleaned every day. They did not allow pets own bedding but this was not a problem and sensible.
It gets wet, needs drying has health implications if not kept clean and so adds to the work load. Will get lost in the wash, if it did not then it would not be getting cleaned. And after being in a pile of bedding and then washed will have lost all smell anyhow.
Pet bedding may be supplied like vet bed or other from the kennels but it should be clean and washed daily.

14) What form of heating is in use and arrange to have it used as much as your pet may need. You pay for it so you choose and ensure it is available and suitable. If overhead lamps are they protected by a guard against accidents. Heating on walls is it clean behind it or full of crud what about a guard to prevent burns? I have seen a dog who got a leg stuck and nasty burns on the leg.

15) I looked at one place that had a set of separate dog runs. The dogs were put in them. It was a boiling hot day there was no water or shade. The kennels were proud of these hell holes and said “oh we are getting shelters built” when l asked about shade. Every kennel had a dog run attached but they were not used the dogs not out in the “fancy paddocks” were locked into their kennel house section. I could get no answer for that or why water was not supplied.

Glenbrittle l use has a walking paddock, surrounded by a high security fence, dogs were only walked on leads and do not run around. This means that they have less risk off injury and staff are not running after dogs that are disobedient. If it is a free run paddock who pays any vets fee’s for injury? For me, possible vet fees were not a problem for lead walked dogs you may want to check anyway.

One kennels l know, have as well as a walking area a communal play area. If you want to use it l would advise taking your dog down first and being there to see how they interact, in fact they may insist on that.
Check the credentials of who and how it is supervised, can they handle a mass fight if one happens and who pays the bills?

16) Can they also handle big dogs? What size kennels are there and do they have special family ones if you have several dogs and how many/run if they do.

17) What is their food policy, if they can not supply the food your pet needs then they should be willing to use yours. This avoids upset stomach and more pet stress. Have a look in the pet kitchen is it clean, would you eat food from there? Is there clean fresh water in each kennel.

18) Are there enough staff for the animals? How old do they look, are they a lot of very young people that look “high turnover” type and how long have they been there? Are you able to hold a sensible discussion with them and do they answer your questions or evade them. There is a difference between being honest and asking you to ask the manager/reception some questions but if they are evasive and do not want to answer anything stop and think what is their reason.

19) If other people are there dropping off, collecting their pets or looking round. Stop and talk to them, ask what they think about the place.

20) Look at the animals there. Do the animals look happy in general, some will be pining but allowing for that take a good look. Some kennels dope noisy dogs!!! Do the kennels and area smell clean or have a heavy faecal or disinfectant smell - Ick.

A kennels or cattery may not tick all the boxes it is up to you if you decide to use them or look further afield. The kennels l use are miles away from our house but l trust them. If in doubt about the kennels do not use them.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Viagra and D-Dimers

The D-Dimers are back Mike says that The D dimers are normal. This means that any embolism was likely not too recent and that fibrinolysis is not ongoing. So she can go onto asprin as there are no clots to breakdown.

Wibble and l are awaiting the order of viagra l sent off for last night. The active ingredient Sildenafil has been found to be excellent in treating Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) which Wibble has, probably from her thrombus.

I have seen viagra in action over the last couple of weeks. We had a poodle in 2 weeks ago with very high pulmonary pressures and at retest last week, after one week of viagra the pressure had dropped by half.

There is no guarantee that the tablets will work as well or at all on Wib but without trying we won’t know. I was a bit worried when Mike J said viagra as it is horrendously expensive but the generic is fine.
My other problem will be to break a 100mg tablet into small pieces as they are to big but l could not get smaller ones, ahh well l have a tablet cutter and glasses.

I will get her started on the viagra first and let her get used to that check that there are no side effects then the asprin after a week or two if all goes well with the viagra.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Unknown Cause

I was called by the front desk to go and triage an injured lurcher in the car park. As l went out the dog was getting out of the car.
“It does not look to bad was my first thought”, l could see a red patch on his side. Mind you, as it was night, and l was not wearing my glasses so was blind as a bat.
The dog was yelping which as it is a lurcher and they and their kin greyhounds can be very wimpy did not concern me. Till l got a bit closer and then it was “ohhh boy not good”.

Apparently they had been out for a walk. Taffy* (*not his real name) running off a lead had come back somehow wounded. It was like someone had taken a knife and cut out an almost nice circle. There was no shredded flesh or anything, a total mystery.

I got the owners to sign in while l took Taffy out the back to get a vet to have a closer look and get some antibiotics, anti inflammatory and pain relief into him and for me to get a dressing over the wound.

The vet took one look winced and said to go ahead with the drugs l had drawn up on standby and dress the wound. I grabbed a passing auxiliary to help hold while l put a dressing on.

As soon as l started to dress the wound Taffy screamed the place down. I decided to see how he was when l had done and covered the wound. Taffy made it clear he was going to scream non stop.
The dressing was not tight. Pre wrap you could touch around the wound, he would just not tolerate a dressing so l undid all my nice neat belly wrap and we stared at each other.
Plan 2 I needed a cover till he was operated on later that night. I dug through the dressings draw awaiting inspiration.
2 large melolin inspired me. I taped them together to make a big “block”. Then a roll of elastoplast was stuck carefully down the sides of my block and pressed firmly over the wound. He looked unhappy but at least did not scream.

I picked up a buster collar to stop him getting to the wound but he freaked so we left the muzzle on him in case he tried to bite the wound/dressing. All seemed well and he was happy if such a word could be used to tolerate my temporary dressing.

Taffy was stitched up later that night after l had gone home. A lot of the skin just pulled back up, apparently it had flopped down. When awake you could not tell there was loose skin there. Once Taffy was under GA it pulled back, a bit tight but at least no major grafting or anything was needed. There was no abdominal wall rupture, another big worry. Although when he was awake there had been none to see. Taffy went home the next day.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Toggie -The Goat

When l worked at the Greyhound Kennels the goat came in as a small bundle of fluff. Laura one of the kennel maids had bought him as a pet. She called him Toggie.
I do not know if he was a Toggenburg or cross or what. He was a big goat when fully grown and had huge swept back scimitar type horns.
Within a short space of time only 3 of us could or would handle him. Sue, the head nurse at horsefalls kennels where l worked, Laura who owned him and myself. He would not tolerate anyone else.
He hating having his horns touched but would let us pull them if need, be to point his head in the direction we wanted him to go. You had to be careful though as he may try and back sweep you with them in revenge.

There was 6 blocks of Kennels at the Layhams road Greyhound Complex. Each block was a long passage with kennels either side of the passage and the top end having a couple of bedrooms, lounge, couple small toilets, bathroom and an office. Home for Toggie was the unused block next to Horsefalls.
The block had been locked up and unused for years but was in good condition when Toggie went in. When he moved out about 4 years later it was a scene of devastation.
Initially he had only been allowed in a kennel. As he got bigger though he explored, and did not belive in locked doors. He ripped off all the doors, ripped out the bars in the kennels, broke glass, ripped the door into the human end and went through that. A demolition crew would have been hard pushed to do what he did. Smashed the boards on the dog beds bashed holes through internal brick and breeze block walls and in a few places punched holes in the roof.
Because only 3 of us ever went in with him no one else saw what was happening and none of us felt inclined to tell anyone in case Laura got into trouble and Toggie was evicted.
When the new trainer moved in around 1986 (about 2 years after Toggie left)l am told that it cost him nearly £30.000 to repair, it was gutted and because of the design had a lot of custom work hence the cost.

Laura moved on due to marriage and left him for us to keep an eye on for a couple of years till she got a house and land sorted. He was not fed concentrate, just grazed in the paddock, I do not actually remember him even being wormed, and worse still he lived alone which is not ideal. However he seemed happy, l would take him out for walks on a long dog lead. Once the local rugby club saw us walking past and wanted to adopt him as their mascot unfortunately it did not come.

One day l was going out on and found Toggie had got out. He had one of the greyhound trainers pinned to the side of his van. Peter Harding looked terrified. Toggie was doing mock charges on his back legs and dropping down his horns just missing Harding. Harding was trying to scream for help but was doing it quiet so he did not upset Toggie more, of course no one heard him.
Toggie was a BIG goat and on back legs topped about 5ft 8in (he looked Peter in the eye) add his horn size on top and he was daunting.

Harding was relieved to see me I stopped the bike and had a really good laugh. Toggie knew that his play time was coming to an end and kept an eye for me to make my move but continued his charges. Finally l recovered breath and walked over, grabbed his horn mid leap and pushed it downwards.
He flopped down and gave me a spoilsport look.
“Dammit Peter l told him you shouldn’t have been so mean to the poor little thing, what did you do too scare him?”
Harding gave me a daggers look and muttered rude words under his breath while he slid like he was greased to the van door and leapt in. “Bloody thing is dangerous” he snapped at me.
“Oh buggar off or l will let Toggie have more fun when he is bored” l told him.
Toggie by now was munching nettles and l gave him a pull towards the kennel and back to home. He had broken the fence and so l did a temp. repair till l had time to sort it properly and went on my way.
Harding had long gone in a cloud of dust.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

A.T.E (Aortic Thromboembolism)

Well you learn something new every day. I am very used, thanks to the emergency work, to dealing with cats that have had an ATE (Aortic Thromboembolism) In other words the clot of blood that breaks free and lodges, generally speaking at the branch of the where the Aorta separates down the cats back legs.
It is intensely painful and a very high percentage of cats die. If they do recover it is a very guarded prognosis.
Sometimes the clot travels round and lodges in the lungs. Usually this is less painful as blood is still circulating past it but it still causes a lot of problems. And again a guarded prognosis.

When we did the pacemaker on the cat Mike explained that one of the risks is that cats blood clots very easily, like a humans does. A dog’s blood is different so they were able to do a lot more heart operations on dogs.
I never though to ask about thrombus in dog's. I did not think l had seen (as far as l knew) any in dogs and we were discussing a cat and a very big operation on it.

Today was one of those rude awakening days. Wibble has been a bit puffy for about 3 weeks but l thought with central heating being up, l did not want to be a paranoid owner, would just keep an eye and if l was still not 100% happy l would speak to the 2 Mikes today.
The problem is working, especially like l do, with a major part of my work emergencys you get paranoid that every little thing is a major 'thing'. The animal suffers endless needles and exams to go to the other extreme of dismissing everything as paranoia. So l tend to end up on a bit of a tightrope and often the vets check my dogs and find nothing, but l try and withold endless tests and needles etc.
Mike J beat me to it. Last night he stayed behind to chat about Wibs and that they had been worried about her breathing, he did not remember her being like that before. I agreed and asked if he could check her. He was happy to, so today we put her through the heart and respiratory ‘book’.

First was auscultation (listening with a stethoscope) not a quick listen but very involved, different areas for several minutes per area. There was just a slight grade 2 murmur lots have that and l was not worried.

Then onto fluoroscopy, live moving x-ray of how her breathing was, anything obvious like collapsing airway, or nasty looking areas.
She was settled for a few minutes then went into freak panic mode just because Mike not me was holding her head, l was holding her legs but oh no not good enough. After she settled Mike and l swapped places and he finished the flouro, nothing showed up.

Then a heart scan. Now we were headed towards the problem. She had a minor bit of valve disease and a bit of ‘regurg’ (swirly blood going back and forwards instead of just one way through the valve) but considering she is 15 nothing to worry about.

The pulmonary artery was the problem it was greatly enlarged and had a high pressure. Normally the dog and cat pressures are up to 3 meters Wibble is 4 so why and what caused this?
Well she had had heart worm years ago so possibly a hangover of damage but unlikely as it was an acute cause. She did not appear to have lung worm, so more working out.

The thought is that she has had an ATE. And it has lodged in her lungs. Apparently in dogs although rare they get 2 sorts. An acute ATE that causes extreme pain and the animal dies within about 2 hours (very rare) The dog gets a lesser clot, it shows no signs other than the breathlessness on exercise and if active possibly intermittent collapse. Wibs is not active so that didn’t show but the breathlessness does.

After lunch we took x-rays. Mike J asked if l thought we should sedate her perfect timing as at the same time l was saying we need to sedate her. It was to much hassle to do conscious she would have been kicking and getting annoyed at being positioned. So a break while the dozey juice kicked in and several x-rays later. Again nothing showed. Heart size was fine, no lung worm patterns, no nasty shadows.

Mike J then did an abdominal scan to check spleen and liver and kidneys for anything that looked wrong to see if the clot was as a result of that, all was clear. This scan was great she was nicely sedated and did not care who held what or did what to her.

Final test was blood, and yes, Mike J held her while l shoved a needle into her jugular and pulled out 5ml.
Blood smears and various tubes have gone to the labs to measure the levels of a by-product of clotting material called D-dimer, a tube of blood for a general haematology and a couple of blood smears.

Treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension is on hold until results are back next week probably Tuesday. If it is an ATE she will go onto aspirin and a heparin drug to help thin her blood down and Mike says that it is a pretty good diagnosis and should more or less clear her up. So we will see how she does. (on the link scroll down to Pathogenesis it explains things well)

She is so lucky that we are at the top Cardio Respiratory Referral Centre, in Europe and one of the best in the world. We (Wibble and l) owe a big thank you to every one here.
Sitting in the fridge is 2 very very chocolate cakes and l have planned a couple of other personal gifts but as l can not get to the shops till Saturday l am not saying in case one of the Mikes reads this.

l have the fluoroscopy on DVD l may try and upload some when l get home and work out how. I have clips of the heart scan again may try an upload. Finally l have her x-rays.

Wibs - "WTF hit me" recovering post sedation. I threw my jersey over her so she could snuggle.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009



Ahh the little tricolour brat hiding under a blanket in the corner of the room as l type. She was also a Teide collection. We went up to one of the high restaurants looking for kittens. They had none only her. All her siblings were dead, her mum was off scrounging as all food was battened down. Less than a week before heavy snows smothered the mountain like vanilla ice cream and colder than that. Wibs had sores on her feet as she staggered round. She was about 2 or 3 weeks old her eyes still baby blue. I did hunt for her mum but no luck.
The decision was l would bring her on to about 9weeks old then re-home in Germany, ummm ok did not go to plan did it? 15 or so years later.
Santa was a fantastic mum just Santa had a thing about whiskers and none of her “babies” were allowed them, all got chewed off as soon as they grew back.

I used to take Wibble in with me to the original home of K9 some kennels at someone’s house, at about 7 weeks distemper went through there she thankfully did not catch it. Then Demodex patches and finally spayed about 10 weeks old.

She has always been nervous and since the other 2 have gone very clingy to me. To the degree that even if l am at home and go to the kitchen l do not need to turn round to know a little face is just checking me out.
At Mike Martins (heart referral) it is great she sleeps in the office. I do have to tie her up though. She keeps sneaking over to Mike M desk and lying by it. When he stands up you hear a yelp and scream as they meet. What is it about animals they never learn.
The emergency place l work she sleeps by the desk in medical prep and pretty much doesn’t budge from her bed but tries to compromise that back legs are on the bed. Other places she is kennelled (she hates) or free range or tied up in an area like prep. If she is not allowed l do not go.

Santa and Poca were her mentors and when Poca peed she squatted and cocked her back leg. So she did not get her long “feathers” wet. When Santa peed she would squat a bit then kick sand or whatever back over the patch.
Wibble now squats, cocks her leg then kicks sand backwards when done.

Well that’s Wibbles story l am sure in time l will mention all the animals but l just wanted to tell about the trio in the heading and whose photo’s heads my profile. That was taken the day they got home from quarantine still confused about what was happening but glad to be back with us. There is loads more l will put up as short stories over time about all 3 and other animals but thats enough gooey stuff from me for 3 days.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009



White and black dog back of the line up in the main picture. She was a sweetheart and no one human or animal was nasty, she was very dim. Santa was the most psychic animal we had and l trusted her judgement on humans totally. She had been abused and could sense things in people even if they looked normal. She did not growl but her body language changed.

We went up Teide taking hubs Mum for a drive on Boxing Day. A car was by the side of the road and as it drove off a dog ran out. I bellowed “they dumped that dog”
Hub slammed on brakes and started to reverse. We got back to her and both jumped out the car. She took one look and ran off about 30feet looking up the road. When hub moved she was terrified so he sneaked slowly back to the car, every move he made she jumped and l attempted to catch her.
This was finally accomplished after 20 rounds of ring around the car and we continued with our drive. It took months till she trusted him totally and never felt safe around men.

Santa’s skin was appalling. I don’t think it was Scabies and it did not smell like Demodex whatever it was it was raw and sore. We decided the best thing was to have her put down.
The next day we went to the vet, and spent about 3 hours outside. One of us would say ok the best thing is to have her put down, the other would agree. Then the one that said have her put down decided maybe not. Talk about indecisive!
In the end we went in and spoke to Sara the vet. She said there was nothing she could do about the skin and that Sana had an infection pointing to her vulva. Actually Santa was just in season not a pyo, we left.
Later that day we went to a decent vet and he got Santa started on baths. It took about 6months but finally she was clear.
Tony neutered her as soon as her skin cleared up and he was happy with it also it had to coincide to when he was next out. It was a long time in between and we acquired Wibble and a kitten (Ginger) and Santa gave them milk till we had her spayed.

Santa was such a sweetheart, she always seemed to be in the wars and never complained and gulped any medication. She always had a bad eye, it never usually bothered her if it did we would put cream in, she chipped a bone in quarantine, that had to be removed, she got bad arthritis- treated, she had incontinence – treated.

I would take her into work to keep a closer eye on her. If she saw an open kennel she would jump into it the occupant would look at her confused and she would give them a dopey look and a lick. No matter how nasty the dog was, they never got nasty at her. She would lie in prep next to the desk and never needed tying up, the only time she moved was if she needed the loo would walk to the back door and await someone opening it.
If we met strange dogs when l was walking my 3 l found it was best to let Santa say hi and establish friendships first. That meant Wibble would then feel less scared and because the other 2 were ok Poca lost her excuse to jump in and rip the throat out of the poor passing dog for saying hello.

I used to hand raise a lot of kittens & some puppies. Santa would do the work, however if she trod on one and they cried she would jump up in the air very upset. She would not jump sideways and you needed to grab her and move her sideways, there was always a look of relief that the babies had stopped crying.
Her biggest brain wave was when a tiny kitten walked between her front legs and tried to get into her food bowl. No luck it was to small, so it planted a paw on her leg and tried, still no use. Santa woke up from her munching daydream, looked down, you could almost hear her mutter “ola baby” as she picked up a mouth full of food and spat it out by the bowl. Kitten happy, Santa happy she had solved something for one of her babies, me not happy and scooped kitten out of dog food and cleaned up mess.

She lived to about 14years old (we guessed her age at 1 when found). Around 4 years ago l got home and hub said she wasn’t “right” one look and you could see she had decided “no more” it was in her eyes. We took her in and after she had gone the vet felt a tumour in her abdomen. There had been no sign, l feel bad l had missed things. The only consolation was she did not show anything and it was only when she had gone that the lump could be felt. Very often tumours can not be felt in the abdomen as the animal ‘boards up’ but she had seemed happy till the end and l am sure she is surrounded by loads of babies, that would be her idea of heaven.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Poca, Santa and Wibble

I decide to give a short history over the next few days of my last 3 dogs from Tenerife as their photo is at the header of the blog.


Small hairy in the middle in the main blog photo. She was the first of the trio. We went to help some folks who moved onto a banana finca (farm) in Tenerife. The farm worker who also managed it moved out and left her. He could not afford to look after his family let alone the dog. We arrived to see this little dog sitting miserably by the gate. I fell for her from the start although never a “small dog” person she got to me. I used the water on rock technique on hub to get him to agree we could adopt her.

She was a fantastic ratter and we would sit and look at her after rats in the banana groves very fast and the rat was dead. Because the finca worker was so poor he did not feed her other than the odd scraps so she had had to forage for food. She would hold her own against any dog that wandered into her territory. When we got the other dogs they fell under her protective remit. Heaven help any animal that scared her pack.
Like me she did not think much of children or babies but she was not biased Poca added animals to the list she just did not see a reason for children or babies, human or animal to be on earth.

We had her when we moved from Tenerife to Lanzerote. On the boat trip over she ambled to the side of the ferry looked over and her eyes went as wide as saucers, she shot to the other side to be confronted by the same site and moved into the middle shaking. I had to chuckle while l gave her a reassuring cuddle.

She has been in the news papers world-wide. We lived in Lanzer’grottie (grottie because we did not like it, very flat, few trees, very windy) for 6 months.
While there we were commissioned by a TV station to cover the Gorbachev’s visit.
We decided to use some bait to get some nice footage so when they went out for their morning walk Poca trotted along with me as we filmed. Raisa noticed Poca as soon as she set foot outside the gates and homed in on her, asked a few questions and permission to walk her then set off leading her.
I have never met power walkers before, everyone else was almost running to keep up with the Gorbachev’s apparently normal walking pace. The results of the set-up were in papers around the world, several friends reported seeing her and as far as l know TV’s around the world carried the pictures also. If got us a couple of meals from the Daily Telegraph reporters who had been in on things and were grateful for the shots, mind you we did a lot more for them than that so it was the least they owed and l never once looked at the cost of the meal and ordered the cheapest meal. I went for the tastiest.

She would not tolerate animal visitors unless we brought them in. Her biggest cull was about 14 starlings one day. Don’t how she got them but she often killed birds, till they learnt to stay away. If we brought an animal in then into the house that was fine. Well apart from puppies or kittens did we really have to thrust these useless bits of fluff into her orderly life “ick” She would never hurt them but would lie on the settee or window ledge out of their way.
I would leave her to lay down the food bowl rule. Santa and Wibble’s bowls were for anyone. Pocas bowl was for Poca she would watch them go to her bowl and then dash over, lift them with her nose and throw them across the room. Then eat her food. That was all it took to teach them and easier than me keep saying no to them.

There was only one way to cut her nails. I would take her into work and would gas her down. While she was asleep l would also give her a good grooming. It was the least stressful way for both of us. As soon as she saw scissors, comb or brush she was gone..... Although she had a long coat she kept herself groomed and l just needed to undo the odd snarl in her coat, thank goodness.

Poca passed on about 3 years ago at about 18years of age. Up till she was15 she had always been fit but then she started bouts of pancreatitis. One night it reoccurred and l took her into work and we popped her onto a drip.
I was busy that night and did not look at her to close. In the morning she had a very small bit of blood from her nose. We ran bloods and her renal parameters were bad but we had to keep a high flow rate for a dialysis.
I looked at the vet and said “It isn’t fair is it”.
He said “Well we can possibly pull her through, give her a few more months maybe more maybe less, but it is up to you, but no she is not good and it will only be temporary whatever we do”
I rang hub who doted on her as well and he left the decision to me, l asked the vet to speak to him and hub still wouldn’t say as l was the one with knowledge and with her.
I held her while the vet gave her the injection and asked one of the newly arrived day shift to take care of her body.
If we had kept her going it would have been for us not her and l owed her more than that.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Weekend Off

Woppeee l am off to see some friends for the weekend down in Maidstone. I have driven everyone mad trying to decide if l would go down tonight or stay here overnight and leave first thing in the morning. Every time l have been asked l just could not decide. With 2 choices to make it has been very stressful for me however decision made. I finally decided to go now as l have to go on the M25 and just know that saturday it will be chocka with traffic.
I come back to the Heart ref. on Sunday evening proably late so l will be out of blog range until monday evening when normal service will be resumed. If l get a chance l will log on and check emails and update any comments posted.

The above is all based on the assumption that l will not be let down by Tom who is my navigator (tom tom).

Thursday, 8 January 2009


This is a request for help from all dog and cat owners of any breed but specific sizes and certain requirements.

It was just over a week ago l was placing a PBBuk blood bag onto a canine patient post op, relieved we had the blood in as it was midnight and did not have to play hunt the donar. True it was a fluke we had the correct type in for this patient, the one it was ordered in for had died but we had the blood in store. Dogs can take their first transfusion from any of the canine groups but idealy it should be the correct one.

I do not know about humans and blood but with animals we take a pre placement measurement of temperature, pulse, respiration (TPR)and check the gum CRT(capillary refil time). We then put the blood on at a very low flow rate and monitor TPR every 5min while sitting by the patient. If they stay stable for about 20mins then we move to 10min TPR for a few checks then 20(ditto) and finally we will up the flow rate, monitor them again for the first 15 min. If all stays stable we place them on full flow. If they have a bad reaction to the blood we are able to react instantly.

Until not long ago the law would not allow the storing of pet blood. When it was needed then donars were rung and blood sought for immediate use. Thankfully this has all changed and now storage is allowed. This has led to the setting up of the Pet Blood Bank UK

The website is based around dogs and you will not find cats mentioned there. However in 2008, PBBuk was awarded $15,000 from the Waltham Foundation, an organisation which provides funding towards research that directly improves the health and welfare of animals world-wide, which has enabled PBBuk to start the research project into collecting feline blood.

Like canine donors, feline donors will be required to meet certain criteria before they are able to donate. Cats should be indoor cats, fully vaccinated, friendly in nature, aged 1 - 7 years, in good health and a few other requirements. Full info for cat requirements are available via phone

PBBuk break the blood down into whole blood, packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, frozen plasma, cryoprecipitate and cryo-supernatant just the same as the human blood service and this is then available all over the country to vets, sent via courier.
Yes vets do pay for the blood/products it is not free however it is not cheap to run the service and yes the cost is passed onto the owners of animals that have received the end product.

Some times it is not possible for the vets to order blood in and they need to use local donors but the PBBuk has made a huge difference. Before we only had whole blood from local donars. If a practice does not have many blood donors available and they have just given or do not have suitable blood type, or the one that did has owners on holiday etc.

Blood (and their byproducts) are not just a life saver for humans but for dogs and cats so if you think your dog or cat would fit the criteria and are interested in helping, please go to Pet Blood Bank UK and if you fit the criteria apply.

I have helped with a lot of donar dogs and cats and they all come off the table happy to have a bicci and a bowl of food. None have been harmed and many are multiple donors.

There was a situation l was peripherally involved in. A patient had died and the vet decided that the owners that were away may like an autopsy. Bodies for PM must not be frozen so it was left on the side in the back with orders to keep it cool. I asked an auxiliary to sling some wet towels into the freezer these could be placed over the body at various intervals.

One of the nurses decided to place some ice packs around the body to help. A lot of lab slides and tests are sent though chilled with blue ice packs. Practices keep these as they are useful. So the nurse slung a big blue “ice pack” on the dog.

A week later l went back to work and was asked about the dog as l had been there. I explained my part, the nurse asking then broke into shreiks of laughter. It was not a large ice pack but actually several bags of plasma in a blue outer bag.
I stared in astonishment, asking if no one had marked the bags on arrival. I was told well they were marked…inside the blue outer bag.
I am afraid l joined in the general laughter especially when told that it was now about £1000 worth of worthless mush, ok so it was not politcially correct but it was not a small one man practice, then l would have been upset, it was one of the big national groups in the UK and tough tits to them.
Just a pity that the donar dogs blood products ended up useless in that case.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

A Ramble and a Rant

Today’s blog is a vague ramble through life. I have made a wonderful discovery. Up to now l have been unable to eat kiwi fruit. The initial taste was great then l got an awful taste in my throat that had me choking for hours and swilling coffee, coke cola and orange juice to try and flush the taste.

No more is that a problem, now l can eat kiwi fruit. The secret was found by accident. Before the 3 or so l have ever eaten l had peeled. The other day when l was looking at the fruit basket delivered to work l was drooling at the, for me, inedible kiwi fruit, l was told you can eat the skins.

I decided to take a chance as they did look nice. I discovered that if l eat kiwi fruit with the skin on, and make sure l get some skin in each mouthful (not hard given their size) l can eat them with only a very small after taste that goes within a few minutes and not the hours before.

On the subject of food l will be so glad when the hordes of Christmas chocolates are gone. No is a very flexible word with chocolates.

Speaking of insanity. Mike the vet has been away on a 2 day course on canoe rescue. He does a lot of canoeing. The thing is it is mid winter, it is many – below freezing and he said they will have to spend a lot of time in the river. We have a nice book running on if he comes back with a cold, frostbite or both, l hope both as thats what my money is on.

Just been having a read of veterinary type news and seen this which l may look at. I have tried Wibble on dog a car harnesses before but it end up all twisted and more of a danger than a help. And that was after one normal journey when all she did was sleep.
Being as how this is a Roger Mugfords Company of Animals item so l recon it should work.

Was cheered up reading an article that some liberal lord is trying to get the Dangerous Dogs act scrapped and put in place a proper act based on behaviour not breed. The change can not come quick enough as far as many of us are concerned.

The DD act is very much abused. I know of one dog warden who has had what probably amounts upto a couple of hundred dogs destroyed as they are pit bull or pit bull types.
The destroyed dogs are Staffordshire Bull Terriers or crosses. And that info comes from veterinary staff, not some wannabe that wants to be an expert.
Certainly the decision is visual there is no DNA test l know of that can say otherwise. And l trust the veterinary staff’s judgements not the wannabe expert.
99.5% of the dogs have temperaments that range from big babies to very sweet. Only a few at most 0.5% have been nasty and were justifiable to be put down on grounds of temperament. I am told this cretin did a one day course and is now considers its self some sort of expert.

The dogs destroyed include puppies of barely 10weeks through all ages to dogs that are old and crippled. Once marked then there is no choice but to destroy them as there is no way any rescue home will touch them.
The persons behaviour is building an even more totally unjustifiable position on the pit bull breed, availability and temperament. Believe me a lot more dogs from other breeds deserve the title of dangerous a hell of a lot more.

If the rescue homes are full, if the dogs are injured or ill and cost has to be taken into account including rehab, if they have a behavioural problem. Then l can use reason and accept PTS (put to sleep) but on the grounds given l find it abhorrent and repulsive.

Ahh well thats my bit of a rant for tonight. I am off to walk Wibble and the inpatients and consider falling into my pit and awaiting the morning.


Mike just came in darn l lost my bet he only has a cold :-))

Monday, 5 January 2009

Hearts and Rascals

I am back at my favourite practice for the next 2 weeks the Heart Referral. I wish they were closer l would have applied for full time work. The only place l would consider doing that for. I like my freedom as locum so it says a lot about the place.

Driving down in the pitch black at 5am was not much fun. I envied Wibble snoring in the back in her bed all snuggled under the blanket. As l got to Warrington there was snow on the sides of the roads and quite a bit down here.
It reminded me of when we arrived in UK. During the early 80s the winters were much colder and we lived down south.
I worked for 7 years with racing greyhounds at a kennels based at Biggin Hill, for a trainer called John Horsefall. We were licensed to Catford now sadly closed.

One very bad winter l was on the way to work at the Greyhound Kennels at about 05:30 and going along Layhams Road where the kennels were based. In winter a cold and miserable trip, the road runs alongside the Met Police Dog Training estab. One section of the road glided under bare, overhanging trees, which made a dark tunnel, the road covered with dead slippery leaves into a sharp bend that ran alongside the graveyard of police dogs killed in action.
In summer it is very different, wildflowers grew around the graves and a green canopy overhead it was very peaceful.
Layhams Rd then swept up past the main training section. The rest of Layhams rd runs between either steep banks or open windswept fields.

A small van, l call a “scallywagon”, the Rascal came towards me. Three men walked by it’s side. Every few paces the van would slip and fall onto its side and they would skurry round to whichever side was lying either on the floor or snowbank and push it back upright.
l stopped, tucked myself and Honda tight into a snow bank and watched them. It seemed a bit unsafe to try and ride past them as the road was very narrow with high snow banks either side. They were chatting away having a good gossip as though this was a normal job for anyone.
They gave me a cheerful hello and l wish l had got the courage to ask where they were going from, too but l was shy back then.
It was so cheering to meet them on a freezing morning when l was cold and miserable. I often think of them if the roads are snowy and l am driving. l never saw them again l hope they got to where they were going, in one piece.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

The Eye

Eye injuries curl my toes. As soon as l see a damaged eye, my eyes start to get sore in sympathy. This cat was a total toe curler when he came in.
He had somehow stabbed him self in the eye when he was climbing, the stick had broken off and was protruding from the corner. Amazingly he did not appear to feel the problem and was calmly sitting on his bed looking out at the world.

We sedated him and Puss proved he was one of life’s lucky creatures. The stick slid around the orb of the eye, stayed outside of the whole globe and had not damaged anything. It came out when the vet applied firm but gentle pulling pressure. It was a smidge under 2 inches long, l measured it in disbelief.

Puss went home later in the evening when he came round. He was annoyed that we had put a buster collar on him to stop him touching his face for a few days that really did bug him.

Looking down at the stick from behind puss

The Stick from the front

Friday, 2 January 2009

A Croc in the Hand

New year made me think of when l was at Tenerife Sur zoo and new enclosures. Paco who owns the zoo decided to build a couple of new crocodile ponds, one for the 7 or so Nile crocs only about 3 to 4ft long at that point.

It was a lovely area and he worked bloody hard on the landscaping and habitat. When he had finally completed the building and the move l was sitting with Marco who owned the reptilarium within the zoo grounds. We were sprawled out having a coffee looking at the crocs.
“Crocs climb well” l said looking at the new home.
“Yes” mumbled Marco
Did you not sort of mention it to Paco, l tried but he told me to bug off, he knew that and that it was too nice an enclosure for them to try and get out from” l said
“Well l tried to warn him but he told me similar” replied Marco.

We slurped our coffees watching the crocs having a “new house explore”. They approached the low fence, about 2 or 3 ft high mesh, very different from the solid brick and concrete 4 or 5ft high wall of their old home.
“What’s the betting they climb out soon as they get to the fence” l asked Marco.
Marco’s English was not too good (he was Italian) but he got the gist of what l asked and said that he was not going to loose money by saying they wouldn’t climb out.

Croc one got to the fence and set up it like a monkey up a tree, 4 more followed in quick succession. We sat and drank our coffees, trying to decide how far they would get before Paco discovered them. It was a very quiet day no public were in the zoo. It was a Friday which is a big change over day for holidaymakers, hence the lack of concern on our part.
The escapees set off with different ideas. A couple headed for the main entrance to do some sightseeing around the area, one went back towards his old home and a couple sunbathed on the warm concrete pathway.

The ones heading for the exit were spotted by Paco who was doing the gate that day. He came out of there like a scalded cat and was off like a weasel on steroids to catch them. We sat and drank our coffees and munching on some peanuts l found in my pocket.
As fast as Paco got one miscreant rounded up and back in the new house area and went to grab another one of the others made a break up the wire climbing to freedom. By now all crocs were at some stage of being repatriated, climbing out or walking nonchalantly around the zoo. We pointed out helpfully where the escapees were and had a very entertaining half hour trying to guess who would head in what direction. In the end Paco "dumped" them all back into theor old housing unit till he arranged and carried out a redesign and rebuilt the surrounding mesh.

He marched up to us and asked what the hell we were doing just sitting watching him, why hadn’t we come and told him and helped him. Marco told him that we had warned him some weeks before about what would happen and as he had told us to piss off and do something useful we felt it was our duty to not interfere.

You did not have to speak Spanish to understand what he said to us before he stormed off back to the gate. We finished our coffees and ambled back to work. We had work to do and no time like some to go and play with crocodiles all morning.