I returned to the consulting room triumphantly clutching a glass and scooped Hammy into it - Julian Norton

It had been another long day, with operations in the morning and visits to see horses and llamas in the afternoon.

Julian found a novel way to examine a hamster this week.
Julian found a novel way to examine a hamster this week.

There were lots of llamas, too. One had a sore leg; he’d been running in the mud and strained a ligament in his stifle (an injury usually seen in over-active spaniels and football players).

Another was suffering from a lumpy face, which I hoped was an abscess and nothing more sinister, and third was losing condition despite eating like a horse, necessitating blood and faecal samples.

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And, as usual, there was a check-up on the enigmatic llama with the heart murmur, which I always had a listen to, just to make sure things hadn’t changed or deteriorated too much.

Then there was a half-hour drive back to Boroughbridge, to tackle evening surgery.

After that, it was home time, although it was hard to call it ‘home time’ because I was on call. If an emergency reared its head I might not be at home for very long.

Depending when that emergency might appear, I might not even get home!

I explained to him that he’s built to last, a vital characteristic living where we do - Jill ThorpWithin minutes of the animals meeting Holly and Phillip on This Morning, tension developed - Julian NortonEvening surgery was uneventful and the idea of a nice meal and some time with the family or sitting on the sofa watching TV was gradually filling my thoughts.

But it was not to be. At least not just yet, because there was one final patient, added to the end of my list. It was a hamster.

I really like hamsters, mainly because of their endless energy and constant enthusiasm, which is hard not to admire.

Not all vets, however, are keen on these little mammals, because they have a bad habit of sinking their sharp and long incisors into the fingers of those who prod them, and not letting go.

Within the profession, there are salutary tales of vets who, in an attempt to remove a hamster dangling angrily from a pinky, have shaken their hand so vigorously that the poor creature has been flung across the consulting room.

It has never happened to me, but I retain a healthy respect for these feisty little mammals.

The hamster on this evening’s list was, as usual, called Hammy. He had a sore tummy – or, at least, some sort of swelling or bulging lump on his underside.

As I peered into the shoebox that was acting as a pet carrier and watched him scuttle around the sawdust, I wondered how I was going to manage an effective examination.

Then I had a brilliant idea. I’m not sure if it was because my mind swings towards the idea of wine once the clock has chimed six on a Friday evening, but I found myself rummaging in a cupboard in the kitchen at the practice for a wine glass.

The cupboard is mostly full of coffee mugs and biscuits, but I’d spotted a couple of glasses, presumably either for special occasions at the practice or for desperate vets.

Anyhow, I returned from the cupboard to the consulting room, triumphantly clutching the glass.

I scooped Hammy up in it and raised him, not so much as a toast, but more so I could safely inspect his undercarriage. It worked a treat.

The glass could have almost been designed for the purpose. Hammy had a patch of dermatitis on his tummy and nothing worse.

I prescribed some ointment and took my customary photograph (I take photos of anything vaguely interesting/amusing/cute/gooey these days), before returning the little dude to his shoebox.

I was soon out of the door and heading for the comfort and relaxation of my sofa, and it would not be long before I had another wine glass well and truly in my hand. This time though, it would be full of Cote du Rhone and not Chateauneuf-du-Hamster.