To vet or not to vet

Last Sunday, Betty and I drove down to Oxshott for a seminar at which Amber Batson was speaking on ‘to vet or not to vet?’. A few things to note here. Firstly, I made a cake for the seminar attendees and I can highly recommend it. I have now done it twice. And it’s worked twice. And people like it. It’s Nigella’s warm lemon and raspberry cake. It seems to be remarkably tolerant and rises nicely … no dips in the middle which is what normally happens to my cakes. I used semolina rather polenta, and it worked. See … I even fannied about with the ingredients and it still worked.

Secondly, Betty was co-pilot – she can’t drive. Yet. But Cambozola is automatic, so I don’t think it will take her long to master. Reaching the peddles slightly more problematic. Thirdly, how nice is Oxshott? I planned to get down there early for a walk on Oxshott Common and in the woods near the village hall we were using for the seminar. Glad I did, but I wasted some of our walk time driving around at 2 mph head swivelling like a meerkat looking at the palatial houses. Stunning. But what’s slightly weird is that these sort of houses would normally be the ‘big house’ of a village and here they all are nestled next to each, cheek by jowl. I love a Palladian look and a few columns … keep buying the lottery tickets.

Amber’s talk: fascinating. Amber is a vet and her top tips of what you can do at home (and should in fact, you should know your dog’s baseline normal) and what is helpful to tell a vet is stuff we would benefit from. Also fascinating is how to triage an accident and what is a ‘fix what you can on the spot and get it to a vet pronto’ vs something that needs keeping an eye on that is fine for a vet to see in 24 hours. I hope I never ever have to give Betty mouth to mouth resuscitation, but I also hope that if I do, I will be less totally useless and know just enough to apply in a moment of severe crisis. We all jumped off our chairs when Amber showed how hard you have to thump a choking dog’s ribs. Poor Stuffy (soft toy, which was Betty sized) was positively walloped. But, if that’s what it takes … good to know. She also discussed how many vets are now owned by corporates and how, contrary to public belief, your vet is not getting rich by getting you to bring your itchy dog in on a Sunday night – they want to help you in emergencies – but are probably not getting more than 4% profit on every £100. Also, a very thought provoking discussion on dog insurance. I don’t think insurance works hand in hand with those who want to vaccinate as little as they can, and treat symptoms rather than prevention. Hmmmm. What to do. Amber had plenty of funny asides too – her dogs do seem to have a healthy variety of ailments – we shouldn’t think that being owned by a vet means they never get ill. Dogs belonging to anyone will swallow what they shouldn’t, it seems!

I snuck Betty in for the last section after tea. I thought she would like a break from the car – though she had been out at elevenses, lunch time and tea break and had a social with Pete, Maisie and Elvis. She thought it was marvellous – an opportunity to introduce herself to over 20 people and give them all a thorough licking. I had to disappoint her and keep her on her little bed. A fair bit of huffing and puffing and turning around. She does not like to be thwarted.

We were home around 5.30pm and mooched around the Estate, checking her peemails. She had had a good walk in the morning in the Oxshott woods and I gloried in morning views of the trees. All in all, a good Sunday. And then Bodyguard on that night. Gripping stuff.


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