Even though we’ve seen thousands of kittens or puppies over the course of a career, it’s still life affirming on a daily basis. Luckily, on a difficult day, when the stresses and strains and the constant demands seem overwhelming, a cute puppy usually comes along at just the right moment to lift everyone’s spirits.
I remember one terrible day when a young Labrador belonging to a practice nurse had to be euthanased because of an inoperable tumour. Everyone was devastated, but there was no time to dwell on sad thoughts because the very next surgical case was a whelping bitch who needed a caesarean.
The sadness was at least in some part washed away by the twelve bundles of squeaking fluff which had been brought into the world, completing yet another circle of life.
Recently, there seems to have been new life aplenty.
A friend messaged me to see if I could help rehome some unexpected baby ferrets. Baby ferrets are called kits and I think the expectation was that I would take a kit off her hands. Much as I love ferrets – I used to have one when I was a young boy – a pet ferret would be totally incompatible with my rabbits, so I had to decline.
The best I could do was make a couple of phone calls and before long, acting as go between, I’d managed to match up the last spare kit with a new owner.
Later that week, I was surrounded by more babies. This time baby alpacas, which are called cria. Jackie had several new-borns, and a visit for post-natal checks on both mothers and babies left me cooing with wonder at these amazing creatures.
If you think a baby ferret is cute (which it is), then cria which are just a few days old take cuteness to a different level all together. They look like balls of snow-white cotton wool on legs.
Julia, a baby which I delivered a few weeks ago by emergency caesarean section, had not formed a proper bond with her mum.
Or rather, her mum had not formed a proper bond with her, which is not uncommon after a caesarean because the natural hormones are not secreted sufficiently to trigger maternal bonds.
This can be a problem, but not in Julia’s case, because she quickly imprinted on Jackie herself and followed her around everywhere she went.
As if that wasn’t enough cute baby animals for one week, I was surprised to find a four-day-old chick waiting for me in afternoon surgery. It chirped and cheeped as it hopped around its basket. Apparently, its condition was called ‘pasty bottom’, because it had, well, a pasty bottom.
The little bird did not seem poorly, but the anxiety of the owner necessitated that I try to get to the bottom of the cause of the pasty bottom. As my swab went in to test for the pathogens which might be to blame, the little bird let out a higher pitched chirp than before, more by surprise than anything. We are all waiting patiently for the lab results, which should identify the cause.
Also waiting patiently was another ferret. Not a kit but an adult. He was waiting to get his pet passport so he could go on his holidays to Europe.
The Pet Passport Scheme allows international travel between participating countries. It’s applicable to dogs, cats and ferrets. I’ve never completed one for a ferret and nor has any vet I know, but everyone wants to. There is sure to be a big queue for this job too…
*Series 11 of The Yorkshire Vet starts on August 11 at 8pm on Channel 5.