Consultations, cakes for dogs and a fizzy end to the day for Yorkshire Vet Julian Norton

Consulting non-stop from 2 o’clock until 6.30 on an afternoon seems to be a regular occurrence at the moment.

A combination of our veterinary practices being popular and a national shortage of veterinary manpower means that most days are very busy, often without the chance to stop for a coffee, or even a comfort break. This is a good thing though (not the lack of toilet breaks), because it’s better to be busy.

Having said that, I’m not sure how next Monday is going to work out, with an ops list extending off the page and already including three complicated surgeries. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Today followed the same pattern of a full list with extras squeezed in. The final appointment of the afternoon threatened to eat into the time that we set aside for cleaning, but instead of the usual vomiting and diarrhoea or scratching written beside the animal’s name, it said ‘Ziggy, birthday. Bringing prosecco and cake’.

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    There was a “happy first birthday” helium-filled balloon and a special dog cake. A cake for dogs, rather than a cake in the shape of a dog. Obviously. Ziggy’s owner had put a candle on top, although it became evident that this was not a great idea for a dog, as he didn’t understand how to blow it out, and just wanted to get on with the eating. Various photos were taken with the assembled guests and toasts were raised. Ziggy wagged his tail and tucked into his special cake, with enthusiasm.

    “It’s exactly a year since you delivered him, Julian,” explained Ziggy’s owner, holding her mug of prosecco in the air. I have to admit, I hadn’t remembered exactly the details, but fortunately she jogged my memory.

    “His mum was struggling to give birth. She’d had four or five pups during the day –Charlie, Humphrey, Freddie and Booboo – but Ziggy was stuck. Mum was exhausted and her contractions had fizzled out. Anne had been dealing with it, but she had to go for her Covid jab and you were drafted in at the last minute to do an emergency Caesarean. If it wasn’t for you he wouldn’t be here. He wouldn’t be celebrating his first birthday!”

    Now I remembered! I’d rushed back from Sandbeck as evening surgery was coming to a close to help out. It was back in the first few months of our Thirsk practice being open. A time when everything was a blur. Like a supercharged sports car, the practice had gone from nought to sixty in about as many days. Every day was hectic as new clients and old faces flooded in.

    At the time, I felt that we were all riding the wave with composure, but evidently some of it disappeared from my memory in the whirl. A lot has changed in a year.

    Thirsk Veterinary Centre feels like a long-established practice, with fabulous clients and pets and ops lists replete with all manner of investigations and treatments. We have a cohort of lovely staff who feel like family and have helped to train two veterinary nurses.

    We’ve saved lives and brought new life to the world. One of whom was standing right in front of me, polishing off the final morsels of dog cake until there was just an inedible candle left.