A study in tenacity


I have spent some time at the Royal Veterinary College in Potters Bar this week. Oscar presented his poor nose to lots of specialist doctors including some top canine Ear, Nose and Throat experts. For the moment it appears that Oscar’s nose condition, Idiopathic Lymphoplasmacitic Destructive Rhinitis, is going through a calm phase. The most recent CT scan showed more internal destruction of his upper nose but no exposed sore lesions. Oscar is not bleeding at the moment and does not appear to be in pain so, for the moment at least, we are not faced with any difficult decisions.

I wanted to share a thing on here, though. Oscar was cared for whilst in the Queen Mother Hospital for Sick Animals by a final-year veterinary student, whose grandparents had had flat coated retrievers. The memory of her time spent with them prompted her to take the opportunity to look after ours and I think she quickly fell in love with him, as most people do.

I am fascinated and intrigued by vets. Admission to the few UK vet schools sets the toughest criteria for the brightest young things who have also had to gain work experience with animals in a variety of environments BEFORE they apply. It is, sadly, no accident that the overwhelming majority of Vet students are girls. I think this is because most girls mature earlier than boys and seem to be able to settle down earlier than most boys  on the long, grinding road to the career of their dreams. I think this imbalance is a pity.

The vet course lasts five years and I can only begin to imagine the whole range of animal anatomies, drug reactions, species-related variation and all sorts of things they have to learn about patients who are unable to tell them how they feel. When we add the ethical dilemmas they have to face about keeping animals alive with ever more advanced surgical procedures despite quality of life issues and also of having to euthanise perfectly healthy animals who have no home or whose families can no longer afford their care, I am in utter awe of vets and I can understand why their fees are so high. There is, of course, no National Health Service for animals.

I was asking our student whether she had enjoyed her vet training and whether she thought it was all worth the trouble. She was certain that it was. Her path to vet school had been complicated by more than one attempt at getting top A level grades, a university course in animal science that she had not enjoyed and FIVE attempts to get into the Vet course at the Royal Veterinary College. FIVE. I had to share with you, Dear Reader, my complete admiration for her tenacity, her single-mindedness, her unwavering ambition, her resilience. I hope she will enjoy her life as a vet when she graduates next year.


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