While the Yorkshire Vet, Julian Norton is given an "unusual" Christmas gift, Jack Russell Emmy finds her own special present under the tree

At this time of year, more than any other, I am constantly amazed by the generosity of people.

Emmy found her present under the tree but didn't unwrap it.

Grateful clients appear bearing gifts. Not gold, frankincense or myrrh, but bottles, chocolates and cards.

This week however, I had a more unusual gift – a framed oil painting, no less! Its subject, rather startlingly, was me. I was clutching a lamb and wore a maniacal smile. It was a good likeness of the lamb.

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Quirky as the oil painting was, it did have the obvious benefit of not adding to the girth of my waist – a perennial problem in December. The electronic dog scales in the waiting room get more use by staff than animals at this calorific time of the year!

Chris and Carol, with their Christmassy names, made their annual pre-Christmas visit for Sandy V to receive his vaccination.

Sandy V is one of my favourite patients, because he was my very first appointment three years ago, when I started working in Boroughbridge. The ‘V’, unlike the ‘V’ in ‘Sputnik V’, the

Russian Covid vaccine (that stands for vaccine), is like the ‘V’ after a king – that is to say, ‘Sandy the Fifth’. The stumpy Border terrier is the fifth in a long line of Borders owned by Chris and Carol.

He was supremely healthy as usual. As they were leaving, Chris and Carol handed over a huge bag of festive gifts: some square and selection-box shaped with my kids’ names on, two bottle shaped, one for the staff and one for Anne and me, and one in the shape of a bone, labelled for Emmy.

When I got home, and despite the protestations of my younger son Archie, who wanted his chocolate right away, I put the Norton presents under the Christmas tree, ready for the day itself.

We have seen a handful of dogs over the last couple of weeks who have shown a lack of self-restraint similar to Archie’s where selection boxes under the Christmas tree are concerned.

Chocolate is toxic to dogs, but luckily the actual amount of cocoa in most dairy-type chocolate is low, so disaster was averted in these cases. There are other challenges and dangers, too.

I vividly remember, while at vet school, trying unsuccessfully to nurse a lurcher back to health after he had eaten a whole Christmas cake. Intravenous fluids, exploratory laparotomy and periton-eal lavage were all in vain. I think about that poor dog every time I see a greedy dog at Christmas.

The kitten who had started to vomit shortly after developing an interest in tinsel was another worry. Sparkly and cheerful as this festive decoration undoubtedly is, it is a very bad thing if ingested by a cat or dog.

Tinsel definitely loses its appeal when it is surgically resected from mangled intestines. It happens quite frequently. I don’t know why cats find it so tempting to swallow, but I wish they wouldn’t.

Back at home, there was someone else struggling to exercise restraint in the face of festive excitement. Emmy, during a few hours left home alone one afternoon, had investigated under the tree. Much like Paddy, the Jack Russell, the memorable dog of my childhood, who would savagely eviscerate every single chocolate-containing present, Emmy had sniffed out her gift from Sandy V. But she’s a good girl.

The patient dog had pulled it out into the middle of the room, but had not removed the wrapping paper. She, at least, had decided she could wait until Christmas Day!

The Yorkshire Vet: A Christmas Carol is on Channel 5 at 8pm on December 22.