Yorkshire vet Julian Norton draws straws after night fighting colic

I had been up for much of the night, treating a horse with colic. His name was ‘Dot Com’. I’d been to see him several times over the course of the afternoon and evening.

Murphy felt entirely at home on the vets table - the perfect patient for Julian after a busy night treating a horse for colic.
Murphy felt entirely at home on the vets table - the perfect patient for Julian after a busy night treating a horse for colic.

Each time, I measured his parameters fastidiously – heart rate, gut sounds and rectal findings all suggested the colic was not too serious, but it persisted stubbornly. After each visit, the signs he showed of kicking at his belly and looking at his flank improved, only to return a few hours later.

His home, on a cold and windy hilltop farm, was beginning to feel like my home as the night wore on. Even between visits, I didn’t get much sleep, anxious as I was that the ‘Dot Com’ bubble might burst. Thankfully, a phone call at the next morning confirmed he was back to normal health.

But, tired as I was after the non-stop night, there was still a day’s work ahead. There was a cat in need of attention and another horse to see, standing in a field, lame. I drew straws with a colleague to see who got the outside job in the grim February gloom, and who stayed to repair the large laceration on the cat’s tummy.

I got the horse visit. It was a long drive to get there, so at least I could relax and listen to the car radio as I headed south with extra boxes of antibiotic powders – from the conversation on the phone, it sounded like a case of cellulitis.

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My afternoon appointment list was a much more relaxed affair – post op checks, vaccinations, follow-up consultations and no major dramas. One of the appointments on the list was every vet’s favourite. A puppy called Murphy for his first vaccination.

The little Labrador was cute and friendly in equal measure and examining him before administering the protective injections could hardly be called work. The ups and downs of veterinary practice have a happy way of evening themselves out.

It’s amazing how a cute puppy always comes along to cheer you up when you are tired or have been dealing with something sad.

He didn’t bat an eyelid as I injected the vaccine, continuing to wag, snuffle and investigate all the interesting things on the examination table. I chatted with his owners, confirming that he was in perfect health and discussing all aspects of puppyhood, offering advice on feeding, a suitable worming regime and socialisation.

Meanwhile little Murphy, oblivious to the discussion, which was centred entirely upon him, fell completely asleep on the table. I’m sure it wasn’t because he was bored. I wish all the patients were so at home at the vets that they fell asleep!

I took a photo, just to prove it. I could very easily have snuggled next to him and closed my own eyes. I’m sure if I had, I’d have been fast asleep in no time at all!

I woke Murphy up, ruffled him behind the ears and bade him farewell. I’d be seeing him again in a couple of weeks for his second dose of vaccine. I returned to my computer. An extra appointment had been added at the end of the list. It promised to be much less relaxing than Murphy. I read the notes for the dog, who was (amusingly) called ‘Busy’. The owners, who were on holiday from Hampshire, were called ‘Hazard’.

“Dog going completely mad,” was the reason given for the appointment. A dog called ‘Busy Hazard’, going completely mad. There was zero chance of any sleeping there!

A special episode of The Yorkshire Vet featuring Jean and Steve Green will be shown on Channel 5 this Tuesday at 8pm.