Barking Blondes: Town vets, country vets and stoned dogs
There we were, lapping up the September sun and enjoying an alfresco lunch in the country when Matilda the bulldog appears from behind the lavender bed, head swollen to the size of a football and eyes like slits. Everybody gasped. British bulldogs are not known for their chiseled profiles but she was as disturbing as a gargoyle.
If this had happened in London, our home town, we would have put her on the lead, or even carried her to our vet round the corner. However, we were in deepest Kent staying with our only celebrity friend, a soufflé was in the oven and the nearest vet twenty miles away.
One guest dialled the veterinary practice, another hunted for car keys whilst the two of us panicked at the hives breaking out over Matilda’s body. She was becoming Linda Blair in front of our eyes.
We were told an appointment was necessary but we pulled rank by naming our celebrity friend then piled into the car, put the dog on a lap and put our foot down. Country lanes are frustrating in an emergency. A tractor, a scout group, a horse and rider, would you believe, all decided to be enjoying the same route in the sunshine.
Matilda’s breathing was becoming more pronounced. Her eyes, by now had completely disappeared. Like something out of The Sweeney, we screeched to a halt outside the village vet and burst into the waiting room. A man with a goat was in the queue before us! A goat! In Islington the most diverse it gets in reception is a hamster.
In front of the vet, everything calmed down. Two injections were given, one antihistamine and the other a steroid.
“Does it have to be a steroid?” we asked. “We have been trying to treat both of our dogs holistically.”
The vet attempted a look of patience.
The bill seemed cheaper than ANY vet bill we have ever paid in London.
“Is there an emergency vet available should she take a turn for the worse at night?” we asked, not doubting the professionalism of the practice but knowing in London we had a choice of many. There was. It was twenty miles away, in Ashford.
Matilda is now recognizable after her allergic reaction. Her Margaret Rutherford features have returned. The question we ask is how did her visit to a country vet compare to one in the city? Well, there were fewer frills. There were no tempting products for sale, such as fruit dog-friendly sorbets from an ice cabinet. There were no women of indeterminate age (apart from us) sitting in reception, with dogs on their laps demanding to be “next in because they have double parked”.
What would we have done if it was after hours and we didn’t have a car? The local bus stops at 6pm. If we had insisted on homeopathy, where could he have referred us? Urban vets deal mainly with cats and dogs and the occasional rodent. Would my city vet be equipped to deal with a goat in his surgery on a Tuesday night? Are the demands of his patients stranger than those in rural parts? I remember one summer being told that dogs were eating abandoned hash cakes, left behind from a rock festival in one London park. They survived but were obviously stoned.
Is the country vet bemused by the sight of a spoilt townie bulldog, in a gold collar, that’s allergic to something in the fresh air? Do we always choose the nearest surgery? Apart from geography, what makes us decide on the vet we use? Reputation? Price? Whatever the choice, we would like to thank those involved in Matilda’s recovery. She is back on form along with her flatulence.
Barking at the Moon is on every Thursday from 10pm to midnight on BBC London 94.9FMTagged in: dogs, pet care, vets
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