Gone to the Dogs

Alice Clark looks at how veterinary nursing has changed her views as a pet owner

Animals engulf my life. I work with them and I live with them and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My views on pet ownership and how I treat my own animals have changed considerably since embarking on my veterinary nursing career three years ago.

I hope that I can share some of this knowledge to help Riddle readers make informed decisions that could affect their pets’ lives. Here are a few important lessons I’ve learnt along the way.

Lesson number one – do your homework and then do some more. My Boston Terrier Etty was meant to be a gift to myself when I qualified. Puppy fever took over and the tiny black and white whirlwind actually appeared in my life with two years of studying still to complete.

In hindsight, the breeder I purchased her from could have been a lot more responsible. I have nursed many sickly puppies that were bought from untrustworthy sources, so assumed I would spot the signs. It was only after I brought Etty home that I discovered her mother had been used as a puppy machine, giving birth to three litters of puppies in a year. Less than a year later, after her breeding career had ended, my parents took on Etty’s mother. At four years old, she now spends her ‘retirement’ completely doted upon.

It just goes to show that you can’t be too careful with where you find your new companion. Having said that, Etty (and her sister Flo, the Wirehaired Vizsla) turned out to be lovely – although slightly mad!

Lesson number two – always be prepared. Accidents and illnesses happen. For me, purchasing pet insurance is an absolute must. Large veterinary bills are almost always unexpected and having the money to pay for complicated operations and treatments is not always feasible.

Insurance policies vary hugely in type and price, so shop around. Prices also depend on the breed and age of your pet and your postcode. You really do get what you pay for with pet insurance, so read the small print and choose the best ‘covered for life’ policy you can afford.

After injuring her knee earlier this year, poor Flo has endured x-rays, CT scans, hydrotherapy and most recently, stem-cell therapy – which I would not have been able to afford without insurance.

Lesson number three – saying goodbye is hard. People often assume that the worst part of my job is assisting veterinary surgeons with the act of euthanasia. In an odd way, this is almost the best part of my job.

Five months ago, I said a final goodbye to one of my best friends and assisted the veterinary surgeon, so I fully understand how difficult it is to make this final decision for your pet. Izzy was my first dog and taught me a lot about pet ownership. It’s safe to say that I probably would not be nursing today if she hadn’t come into my life.

I feel incredibly privileged to be able to help end an animal’s life with the least suffering possible, providing that the act is carried out at the correct time. Although this can sometimes be an every day occurrence, I will never feel indifferent about this aspect of the job.

So, despite on a daily basis asking myself, ‘animals, who’d have them?’ I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without them.

Each month, my column will feature relevant topics from food to fireworks and fleas to fat pets. I cannot guarantee that there won’t be any graphic stories thrown in – so hold on tight whilst I (with a little help from Etty and Flo) share the ins and outs of pet ownership. riddle_stop 2


Enquiries: Alice Clark RVN, MediK9 LTD, 10 Gorse Knoll Drive, Verwood, Dorset, BH31 7PL / 1202 823175 / alice@medik9.co.uk / www.medik9.co.uk 

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