No two days as a veterinary surgeon are the same and nothing can prepare you for the constant upheaval in your emotions. I’ve sat on the floor with a distraught drug addict unable to come to terms with his dog’s terminal illness. I’ve been spat on, sworn at and threatened. I’ve also been trusted, respected and loved. I’ve seen cases of cruelty and neglect but also moments of extreme tenderness and dedication, I’ve known people go without food so they can afford medication for their pets and I’ve known people whose only reason for getting up in the morning is their animals. The consulting room is a privileged place and consulting effectively is an art as well as a science. The ability to draw out the back story and to get to the heart of the matter is a skill that is learnt over time. The farm is also a unique environment and farmers have that particular mix of bluntness and practical capability, there’s a roughness there but a gentleness too. The beasts they look after have an honesty and in the case of cattle and horses a majesty as well, which I still find awe inspiring. Seeing people’s interactions with their animals is a window into their own emotions and whatever secrets people have they can rarely conceal the truth where their pets are concerned.
This is an extract from an article I wrote for Poetry News earlier this year.