Armed with my sandwich, a dog lead and a poo bag we set off along the banks of the Ure. We could both have continued for much longer than lunchtime allowed, but there was enough time to sit down for a few minutes by the lock at Milby. I ate my sandwich while Emmy rummaged in the hedge, looking for adventures.
On the way back, we met a family – father, three children and their multiple dogs – as they headed out for an afternoon beside the river.
“Hello, Julian,” exclaimed one of the young children. The familiarity of her tone suggested that we knew each other or, at least, had met before. Since every one of the four was wearing sunglasses, I didn’t recognise them straight away.
The father lifted his sunglasses and explained: “It’s a while since we’ve seen you – we are the bottom family!”
This was not so much help as you might think. I couldn’t think of many friends who would describe themselves in such a way.
“Princess…. from a year or two ago?”
This was the piece of information I required.
“Oh, yes, of course. I didn’t recognise you with all these dogs!” I said, which was a reason as genuine as the sunglasses were an excuse.
Princess was a cat who I treated late in the summer of 2017. The accident-prone cat had been out doing what cats do, when major calamity befell her. She appeared back at home with the most enormous injury, extending under her tail, across her back legs and all around her sensitive and important bits.
Nobody knew what had happened and I could not offer any explanation – it was an injury unlike any I had seen before.
Needless to say, I took her straight to theatre and embarked on what turned out to be pretty epic surgery, which took me late into the night.
Perineal reconstruction is a fiddly thing, but the surgery went well and, after an hour or so, Princess looked almost as good as new – or at least, all the bits were back in the right places.
I was really pleased with how it had come together, and I knew that when Princess woke from her anaesthetic she would be a lot happier. The third delighted person was Laura, my camera girl at the time.
“Julian, that was totally amazing. Thank you for letting me film it!” she said, brimming with enthusiasm, before giving me a hug and rushing off to save the exciting footage. It would be a strong story for one of the later episodes of series five of The Yorkshire Vet. On this sunny afternoon by the river, that seemed like a lifetime ago.
“And how is she getting on?” I asked. The last time I had seen her, the injury was healing spectacularly well, as much due to the powers of the body to repair itself as to my painstaking suture placement, I suspected. But I hadn’t seen her since then and I hoped not only had her wounds healed, but also, given the mangling their external orifices had received, her bowel and bladder function was intact.
“She’s fine,” enthused the father. “You’d never have known there had been a problem. That reminds me. One of our dogs has a problem with his anal glands. We must bring him in to see you. We know you’re an expert down there!”
Julian Norton’s new book, On Call with a Yorkshire Vet, is available for £11.99 at www.ypbookoffer.co.uk or call 01274 735056.