Monday, 21 April 2008

Fix the little faker

Animals have a strange habit of letting you down or proving you wrong. Like the time we get visitors and the horse runs off as we are showing how good he is, or the goat jumping from car roof to car roof because she can, or the cat running for the cat flap with your steak in its mouth, our list is almost endless.

Jess, the little bottle fed lamb who in the previous post I accused of faking an illness in order to exploit our sympathies and allow her further creature comforts, was in fact really ill. Almost as soon as the post was published she started to do an energetic form of lamb break dancing, spinning on the cushion, jumping up, staggering sideways and falling over to repeat the process. Her breathing became very forced and laboured and her stomach looked like it would explode. Clearly she was in distress, a lot of pain and as my diagnostic skills were well out of their depth professional help was needed.

We had to call the Vet!

A quick consultation with Tracey confirmed that Vets help was necessary as our do it yourself sheep illness cured book was telling us we were either dealing with cold sores, worms, epilepsy or rabies. All of which in a new lamb would be fatal.

Jess was now being comforted in the arms of my lovely wife who was understandably upset. I rashly promised to sell my other kidney to pay for the Vets time in order to save the little beasty and the call to the emergency Vet was made.

Now Vets are a law unto themselves who practice medicine in extremely difficult circumstances with a variety of patients who cant talk and who have their every move scrutinised by the patients owner. I myself wanted to be a vet while at school until I realised where they had to put their hands, took seven years before they earned any money and had to learn Latin. As that was all Greek to me I got on a different bus at school and ended up in the Police. But that's a different set of stories.

We used to use a practice for years where Deb the vet was extremely tolerant of mental patient owners like me who brought in such interesting cases as a rabbit with a ruptured penis. I sat quietly in the waiting room alongside the other anxious owners whose precious charges were entrusted to the veterinary skills of Deb. She tried not to laugh when she handed my rabbit back, no it hadn't ruptured its penis, it was giving birth. Ah, right thanks Deb.

I had just lived this down when I then took a female cat to be spayed and returned home with a neutered male and a note from Deb asking if I needed a lesson in biology.

I stuck with it and Deb has been our vet for years and she is great, a top vet. However she works for a large practice with huge overheads and when we were charged a huge sum of money for a booster for Rocky and seven sets of worming tablets , a sum so large it necessitated the sale of a small internal organ (OK I exaggerate, but I had to sell some of my toys) we decided we would look elsewhere.

A new practice opened almost opposite our offices in town, the Teme Veterinary Practice, and when my techy friend Sara can be persuaded there will be a link to their website, we tried them when Reba was ill and they were good. In fact they were excellent, so it was them that got our frantic call late last night.

Andy is a very down to earth chap and unlike most Vets I've met is not at all precious about his work. He talks you through the options and if possible gives you the knowledge and skills to deal with it yourself. Exactly what a panicking novice shepherd needed when one of his little lambs is poorly was Andy talking calmly about what was going on and what needed doing.

Jess had wind.

This might seem harmless but it would be fatal to the poor mite if we couldn't sort it. Andy explained that as the lamb was bottle fed she would be gulping down air with her milk causing her pain and restricting her breathing. We needed to release the trapped air that had built up over the days otherwise it would be curtains for Jess. Fighting the temptation to deliver the we don't have any curtains punch line I listened carefully to the instructions from the everso patient Andy. The way he explained it instilled me with confidence and knowing that if it all went horribly wrong I could rely on him to come over and fix the little faker I set about the Florence Nightingale routine with Jess.

First off I made her swallow some olive oil in an attempt to shift the wind and provoke a bout of burping. Not too successful and she didn't like the taste. Next option was to put a feeding pipe down her throat into her stomach which would hopefully release the gas. This seemed to do the trick and after some very strange noises Jess started to breath a lot easier and looked a bit more comfortable.


Two hours later Jess was break dancing again, her stomach swollen and she was in a right state. It was time for the ultimate wind deterrent, the Nuclear option as it were. I got a large hypodermic syringe needle and got Tracey to wrap Jess in a towel, primarily to stop her struggling but also as a precaution against Jess bursting. I gathered my thoughts and replayed Andy's very matter of fact instructions in my head, no one wants to do this but if you have to, look at the lamb, imagine its a ball floating in the water and on the highest point as it floats in the water on the left hand side stick the needle. Not really knowing what to expect I stuck the needle in.

Jess looked at me.

Thankfully she didn't go bang.

She did go down, gently, all the gases escaping through the needle. The smell, like roses, roses that had been kept in a vat of cow shit for a year. Oh the smell, even to dogs took cover. Luckily for me I lost most of my sense of smell climbing in the Alps, Tracey on the other hand was suffering.

Meanwhile Jess was cured. Totally. In fact she wanted feeding. As did the others. As did the dogs. No time to pat ourselves on our backs, we had jobs to do.

But we would take time to thank Andy when we saw him.

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