A bio for bio-veterinary

Less than a week away from Easter break and 2 weeks away from the Liverpool half marathon. I have no chance of a “break” with the amount of uni work, running and work experience to be done. Second year is nearly over and this time next year I’ll be preparing for my final year exams; the deciders! With each semester flying by, I’ve realised that it’s about time I answered some all-important questions (mainly for my family’s sake). Quite a lengthy post, like my step-dad would say about me; long but worth it.

Firstly, “What on Earth is bio-veterinary science?”. During Fresher’s week, besides meeting the lovely Abbie Louise in Fusion of all places, I must have been asked ‘the basics’ over a hundred times. Name, age, where in ‘the North’ I’m from. Fellow Yorkshiremen, trying to convince you that West Yorkshire is the place to be… clearly haven’t visited the North Yorkshire moors. After establishing that my accent isn’t as strong I like my tea. The exchange of University’s and courses takes place. With numerous anti-JMU chants and t-shirts labelling the posh from the polys, it all comes down to your course. When I tell people I am a bio-vet their usual response is either; I have zero idea what that is – “Ooh that sounds hard” or the dreaded – “so you’re a vet, cool”. No, unfortunately I am not on the 5/6 year degree programme to qualify as a MRCVS. It’s like a ‘baby’, three-year version without the hands-on part or the qualification part (I roll around in shit and do the vet stuff voluntarily). No, it’s not a “shit alternative course for people without the grades, like bio-med for medics”!. A third-year bio-vet told me that most bio-vets get sick of explaining and just tell people they are vets or settle for biology. “It’s a life science, you know like biology… for animals?”. Believe it or not, some of my course mates have no interest in post-grad vet med at all. But most are like myself and want to achieve a higher qualification to apply for vet med. Few had original offers and fewer had conditional places… guess they saved themselves the disappointment on results day. Some medicine schools offer transfers, sadly there is no comparative pathway for vet students, unless you meet certain criteria for gateway or foundation courses. Only RVC offers a 4 year post-grad course now, Liverpool once offered post-grads entry into year 2/5 instead of year 1/5.

“So why didn’t you just resit your A-Levels?”. I wish it was that simple. The changing exam layout of A-Levels and repeating the same curriculum put me off the most. I had given AS and A2 equally strong effort, if I resat I could run the risk of the same grades and lose my last chance for vet med. UCAS allows each applicant to apply for 4 vet med courses and 1 ‘back-up’/ insurance. With only 8 unis in the UK offering vet med, the competition for places on the degree programme means applicants are only allowed two applications for the D100 course. Taking the above into consideration, you’d have to be Einstein himself or incredibly lucky to get a place; I fell into the latter category. I applied and visited Edinburgh (which turned into a weekend away), Liverpool (where Mum got herself lost in China town), Nottingham (we made it eventually after the alarm clock fiasco) and Surrey (I was prepared for all eventualities, even the South). Of all my reasons for leaving sixth form behind me, I was ready for a change. I had grown up quickly, ironic for the youngest in my year group. I was organising my own placements and worked part-time since I was 13. Uni was the next logical step for me to challenge my independence further, learn new sports and develop my cooking skills. Uni work is unlike GCSE and A-Level, there is no set specifications. I am examined bi-annually and have deadlines to meet throughout the year. I have fine-tuned my communication and study skills, but also my hangover-productivity skills – an essential for any first year.

“Does that girl ever work?”. My Grandad thinks I’m on a constant holiday when he hears what I’ve been up to… I like to think that I balance my time appropriately and somewhat wisely; studying, eating, extra-curricular, socialising, work experience, sport and occasionally I sleep. Liverpool is fab for tourism too, just check out the past two years of my insta. I’ve always worked best under pressure, being busy and rushing around is all fun and games but in fact, my “hobbies” support my application and personal statement. Before the days of prospective university degrees, I favoured baking, reading and playing inside. It’s hard to believe that I once feared the cold, wet and muddy. I still devour books and bake for special occasions but prior to DofE and work experience, I never challenged myself physically or embraced the benefits of sport. My childhood friend taught me what I consider, the most important lesson of my life whilst on holiday in Scotland. Neither of us enjoyed mountain biking, kayaking or water sports but the Jackson’s thought we’d both benefit from ‘the fresh air’ if anything. We biked miles each day and I pushed myself for the reward of a sweet treat (I’ll do most things for cake). I had been successfully avoiding the tea-stained loch and activities involving neoprene. By mid-week my friend was done with my “cotton wool wrapped” attitude and regretted inviting me. At risk of losing my best-friend, I forced myself into the ‘lumber jack’ wetsuit…Turns out I LOVE WATERSPORTS. Having learnt from my mistakes as a teen, I now take every opportunity thrown my way, grateful for my fitness and health. Uni has strengthened my determination, both academically and in sport. Having the freedom to engage in opportunities at my own leisure has lead to my involvement in event first aiding (St John’s Ambulance), charity hikes (Yorkshire Three Peaks and soon Snowdon),10ks (half marathons…), triathlon training, yoga classes, lacrosse (or lac-rosè as Floss calls it), the sailing team committee, peer mentoring and course repping. In first year I played Life Science netball and tried out loads of Fresher’s tasters like paint balling, climbing, canoeing and windsailing. Besides the interesting, loveable and hilarious friends I have made, the endorphins and sense of accomplishment (not just from time-management) are overwhelming. I would, whole-heartedly recommend uni to anyone. Even my sister who hates education with a passion is going!

So far, so good but for those of you wondering, “what’s all this money she keeps banging on about?”. Basically I have to find, beg, borrow (and steal?), £45,000+ for my next degree. Definitely puts paying for a weekly tutor at A-level into perspective. Unlike medicine, the NHS will not “fund” post-grad applications for under-grad courses. This means you get your first degree paid for by the government (which you pay back in instalments, WITH INTEREST, when you earn over £21,000 a year) and you have to self-fund/ loan from the bank of Mummy and Daddy for your second degree. Vet med is not considered a post-grad study, neither it a masters. As I could have (should have) graduated from the vet med degree straight from A-level, the government do not assist with the £9,250/ year tuition fees. At a triathlon event in the summer a friend’s sister, encouraged my bio-vet studies, having studied vet med alongside post-grads herself and referred me to one of her friends for financial advice. I broke down on NYE to my parents, panicked and distraught. We’d have to sell our house! I started researching the funding options before realising there are none. I have been applying for/ working part-time jobs in Liverpool also. I will be writing to charities, businesses, bursaries and scholarships for financial support. Alongside my fundraising and family donations, I am saving everything I have to afford the future 5 years of vet school. Once I have my place, If I have issues with funding I will have no option but to drop out of vet school, waving goodbye to 6 years of hard-work and my future. That’s why I need YOUR help. £1, a text, a hug, a like/ share anything! I am more than happy to open up on my own experience and advice those from my mistakes. For any future vets and students alike, drop me your queries, big or small. I’ve learnt that the key to a successful vet application is passed from one generation of students to the next. At my school there was usually just the one prospective vet each year, learning from the applicant the year before. I am grateful to both Chris and Fran for their advice and guidance and hopefully others will learn from my mistakes. My next post will detail the essential supporting material to ALL applications, work experience. Read my anecdotes from over the years, the blood, guts, gore, frustration, satisfaction and a hell of a lot of cow shit. Big loves, Evie xx

BIG THANKS to my sisters for their kind support and inspiration (yes Alice this includes you), my lovely card from Mum, donations from my teachers and friends from school. Last but not least, my Nan who tackled the PayPal link, despite her fear of online banking. I can assure it’s easy to donate, follow the links at the top of the page or you can click here for PayPal or my Crowdfunding page. LESS THAN 2 WEEKS AWAY and the sun is finally shining down on Liverpool! My half marathon will be my longest, hardest and I can guarantee the sweatiest run I’ve ever attempted. Tom will be there on the finish line and your support will keep me going for Trusty Paws.

Post-grad funds – like finding a needle in a haystack

Loch Ken, Scotland

My Baltimore girls

SJA volunteers

Lacrosse 2nds team


3 grades, 2 chances, 1 place

Blog post numero 2. My previous post was difficult to write, mainly because I have SO many reasons behind why I want to be a vet. However, this post has definitely been the hardest. Usually I forgive, forget and move on from things that knock me down, but my A-level results (2016) changed my life; financially, temporally and socially.
Now that may sound dramatic (probably from spending too much time with Jaydene), so I’ll start from the beginning… drag it all back up.

“A vet?, you’re not clever enough to be vet”.
I’m not trying to prove anyone wrong, but I reflect on this comment times have get hard and remind myself that nothing worth having comes easy. No one is born clever. I must go over things numerous times before they begin to make sense. My teachers hated me; always asking questions, always writing too much, always defending my grades. I’ve been programmed to aim high and work hard. From SATs, GCSEs through to my AS and A2 levels, they’re all serving one purpose to me. Knowledge may be a power, but my grades were my place at vet school. Science, forever a favourite of mine, maths was more love-hate and P.E was a drain until I started DofE. I began running with my family, a skill I overlook but thank them for teaching me. Since year 10 work experience, my time revolved around school work and my local vet practice. I worked in my parent’s café on weekends, went on ski trips, fieldtrips, hikes and the odd DofE training weekend. I knuckled down at GCSE and spent hours revising. The hard-work payed off. I stayed on at my sixth form for my A-levels, I played an active role as Deputy Head Girl. I achieved top grades in English language and reluctantly dropped it at A2. My application was due in well-before the rest of my peers. I had a 43% chance of getting an offer (less than that because I am female). I’d practiced my interview answers on anyone that would listen and spent hours perfecting my personal statement (and helping someone with a very late application). I was invited to interviews and later confirmed my first choice at Liverpool vet school.

At A2, the new head of science took me under her wing, we spent hours devouring the biology AQA textbook until we’d practically memorised it. I had a genuine love for geography, and my teachers. Lastly, my Achilles’ heel; chemistry. I could say a lot about my beloved chemistry lessons, but unless you have been faced with a 9 mark essay, at the end of what can only be described as the dog shit of all exams… you wouldn’t understand. An older, ex-student tutored me, I went on multiple ‘exam success’ courses, but it still wasn’t enough. Three days after my 18th, my birthday week came to a disastrous end. Results day; the worst day of my life. I hadn’t checked on UCAS, if I hadn’t gotten I’d panic, helplessly until I had my grades. I waited it out. My friends knew they were in, I was so excited to join in on their excitement. I deserved this, I’d worked hard for this. But sadly, the proof was not in the Yorkshire pudding. Some random nobody, I had never seen in my whole 7 years at school handed me my results and asked, excitedly, ‘Is this what you wanted?’. Much like a fight or flight response, I ran from the room. I cried for the best part of half an hour and then something came over me. I had two options: I could re-sit, give it my all (again) and risk losing out (again) on my final chance for a place at vet school, since you’re only allowed two applications. Alternatively, I could apply as a postgraduate three years later. Desperate to leave the school I’d given my all with little to no support or sympathy in return, and no understanding of UCAS clearing AT ALL. I grabbed the head of science and we spent 3+ hours on numerous phones to reject my biochem offer from Nottingham; plan Z, if I lost an arm and wasn’t physically capable of being a vet. My friends and their mothers managed to get me on the phone to my first choice. I needed an A in chemistry to be reconsidered, which equated to 3 more marks in that bloody exam. My place had gone to someone else. I signed up for zoology and I was then moved on to biovet during first semester. After my success, if you can call it that, I helped some others through clearing, and the year after too. None of them were quite as devastated as me, nor had three simple letters shattered their dreams. Everyone went out or results night, but I was so disappointed I knew I would end up being ‘the Debbie’. After a dog walk on the beach, a friend assured me I could still be a vet, her brother had gone on to do vet after completing his biovet degree.

My positivity and determination has kept me a float, despite the Titanic-like throwbacks. Since coming to uni and meeting several ‘gap yah’, re-sit, post-grad and masters students. It makes you realise that age really is but a number. I should hopefully graduate at 26, but no one will be able to take away my first degree, I have matured, learnt, revised and developed skills I never thought I’d need until I came to uni. Biovet has not been a mistake but trying to blame people for my misfortune would be. The more I talk about my results day nightmare, the easier it gets. I was so proud of my friends that day, and that’s what I choose to remember, the rest is just a minor, 3-year, £45,000 setback… I have, and always will, have fond memories of my 7 years at school, I made friends for life, had the funniest times and learnt the true meaning of resilience. Next week I plan to explain the no-funding/ £45,000 uni fee shit, but also let you in on my hobbies and fab uni life in Liverpool. And on that note, big loves to all of my lovely teachers and best-friends, I wouldn’t be here without you, Evie xxx

P.S Thank you for the lovely comments and motivational texts, they really do make my day and keep me going. Please support me through my page or PayPal , the half marathon is weeks away! The freezing weather has been a challenge for everyone but especially the homeless and their dogs. Do your good deed of the day and donate your takeaway coffee money. The Trusty Paws Clinic are doing everything they can but their funds are limited.

Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s veterinary

My first and arguably the most important blog post!
Here’s why I want to be a vet. At first, I thought I’d be a fishmonger, until I realised how much I’d smell. Then it was fascinated by the mounted police force, but that was to emotional and stressful. Or a paramedic? Far too much blood and responsibility. So maybe I’d be a jockey, but I kept on growing… When I was old enough to write my first Christmas list I think it was clear I had something in mind.

Much to my family’s amusement, I decided I’d commit my whole life’s purpose, to the most intensive, tiring, empathetic, smelliest, goriest, busiest and challenging careers out there. My height was never a problem either. They always said I was born in the wrong era, as my family owned a farm with donkeys, geese, dogs, sheep, horses, calves, the lot. They even lived in what is now a vet practice, where I did my initial work experience.

My beloved Rubin had recently died and after we owned a branch of Animal Hospital in our loft and later Schleich animals, my family bought a rabbit. Noticing my connection with animals somewhat resembled Dr Doolittle, it was clear what we needed was a real pet. My very intelligent and hairy dog Benji lives with my grandparents, he’s 14 but Cushing’s disease isn’t stopping him. With my first vet kit and scrubs, I started traumatising the poor dog (and my sister) ‘playing vet’. Years later I received my first stethoscope from a family, paramedic friend.

I was never asked ‘why’ as I was growing up. At a Vet-Medlink conference every student was asked what gave them ‘The Edge’ (see my old blog posts), and we all had similar answers. No one had a eureka moment. It took some digging, but after my interviews I realised I had a pretty good answer to their question.

Working with animals and people: supportively, productively and emotionally. The One Health Initiative is the perfect example of vet’s role in government positions and education. Working with consumers and producers is essential if we want to maintain antibiotic use. Animal care inside and out: quite literally, with surgery, emergencies and consults inside vs large animal surgery, sample collecting and testing outdoor, just to name a few. Which leads me on to “the spice of life”, as an Edinburgh Vet from my Sixth Form described; variety: I’ve always said that when I am asked “what have you done today?” as I tuck into my dinner (be it 7pm or 4am, depending on my hours), I want to answer with something different from the day before, and the day before that. How many people can save a life, cuddle puppies, perform intricate surgery and expel anal gland sacs before the first tea of the day? And that’s just for small animal vets. There’s equine, zoo, large animal, abattoir, government, locum, educational (although I’m not too keen after all this strike malarkey), research, specialist… I could be the next super vet! Who knows, and that’s why I’ve got to give it my best shot. The opportunities are indeed endless. And if 8 years of Uni (21 years of education) wasn’t enough for me, the world’s my oyster, with CPD. Loving what you do doesn’t make you a workaholic, it makes you passionate and driven: Seeing jobs through, beginning to end, again quite literally, as the lifespan of pets and livestock usually means they will be under your practice’s care their whole lives. Building a relationship with clients, farmers, respecting food to fork, meeting people, loving your team and work family (am I selling it to you?). I don’t want a dead-end, day in day out, living for the holidays job. I want to take pride, be reliable and responsible, and most importantly, enjoy what I do.
I am sure its not going to be plane sailing and I’d be stupid to think I wouldn’t question my choices. But I do know this, I have confidence and faith that I will achieve my dream job and I’ll die trying than be in a job thinking “what if?”.
Maybe I’ve inspired you or maybe I’ve put you off. Back in the archives is my original post ‘The Edge’, which is still true, my views haven’t changed but I have learnt and developed my knowledge and understanding of what it means and takes to be a vet through my degree and from recent work experience. My dedication, commitment, enthusiasm, motivation and determination remain 3 years later, stronger than ever.
My next blog you can expect to read all about my A-levels and how I ended up as a prospective financial burden, that so desperately needs your help and support. Big loves, Evie xx

Thank you to my house, boyfriend, friends, family and Café customers who have donated so far. Your kind support is truly overwhelming. Please donate if you can spare, I’ve been training in these arctic conditions and praying for good weather on the day of the Liverpool BTR half and your sponsors keep me going. 
The Trusty Paws Clinic have been working hard to open their new Liverpool branch, see their progress on Facebook @trustypaws and their online Wish List.
My grandad warned me of the 5% crowdfunding fee… which is a lot for poor, little me to lose. If you’d rather the doggos and I receive the full amount, here’s my PayPal or you can message me for my bank details (and I’ll thank you on my blog).

Liverpool Half Marathon

My first challenge is a month away! Please sponsor me for the Liverpool Half Marathon. 50% of my sponsorships for this run will be donated to The Trusty Paws Clinic. My first ever half and what a struggle it’s been training over the Winter but nothing on what the homeless dogs have been going through. I previously walked the Yorkshire Three Peaks for this charity with the vet students behind it all. But don’t just take my word for it, visit their website or Facebook page @trusypaws to see the amazing work they do for the homeless.

It’s easy to donate just follow the links, Just Giving Fundraising  or to avoid the crowdfunding fee here’s my link to PayPal, thank you so much. Big loves, Evie xx


Welcome to my blog ‘The Wannabe Vet’. I am going to post as often as I can to keep you all updated on my roller coaster (more like rodeo bull) journey to becoming a post-grad vet student. Here’s a brief introduction to my story and why I desperately need to raise £45,000!

I’m going to try and keep this brief (she says). I plan to post about why I want to be a vet, A-levels, work experience, bio-vet degree, hobbies, interests and my application for 2018, very soon!

Back in 2016, after a lot of tears and phone calls, I found myself in my first year of uni at Liverpool. With plan A (part 2) under way, I soon realised I had a lot of work ahead of me. It wasn’t until NYE 2017 when I realised just how many arms and legs applying to vet as a post-grad would cost. I love my degree and bio-vet science has taught me so much about myself and prepared me for vet medicine. BUT the problem is, SFE will ONLY fund £9000/ year for my first degree… leaving me up a very shitty creek with ZERO paddles. Unfortunately, Santa didn’t have £45,000 going spare, so I have had to think on my feet, literally. Throughout the year (and the next 5), I am going to run, swim, tri, climb, walk, work, I’ll even shave my head if I have too, to get to my target. I am going to fundraise and save as much as possible, with my friends and family supporting me in every way that they can. As you read my future blogs you’ll hopefully begin to understand just why I’m bankrupting my family. With your support I CAN DO THIS. I got a place on the course once, so in true Yorkshire spirit, I’ll pull up my overalls, lift my chin and crack on with it.

Thank you for reading my first blog post. I have left my old, cringey posts up from when I first was first applying for vet med. Not only as a mental reminder of how far I’ve come but for anyone who wants to see how my enthusiasm, dedication and determination has flourished over the past three years.

Don’t forget to visit my fundraising page or (to avoid crowdfunding fees) my PayPal link,  I am so grateful for every donation, every penny means the world. Watch this space for more blogs and my latest challenge. Big loves, Evie.

Poisonous Presents

A quick update from me, I now have three invites to interview and I am waiting for one more response. The formal interview at Bristol was very insightful… as most of the candidates wore denim jeans?! Having just passed my theory test, next up is a trip to Liverpool for an MMI styled interview, which I have been told are very interesting and engaging so I am looking forward to that, and the Christmas holidays of course.
Speaking of Christmas, nobody wants to end up at the vets on Christmas Eve with a poorly pet due to eating something poisonous that their owners were oblivious to.
1. Chocolate
The most commonly known pet poison. The indulgent variety of chocolate at Christmas is baffling, Quality Street, Ferrero Rocher, Toblerone’s, it’s everywhere and at some point or another the beautifully wrapped Cadbury’s selection box is left under the tree just waiting for a wet nose to sniff it out. So make sure that if your pets are prone to breaking into food containers, that you tell your family and friends to worn you if a gift is food based so that it can be placed in the cupboard instead of under the tree.
Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine the amount of differs from high in dark chocolate to low in white chocolate.
2. Christmas Tree
Who would have thought your innocent evergreen could hurt anyone? Well here’s how:
Most species are not extremely toxic but some can cause intestinal upset if chewed on. Tinsel and decorations can cause intestinal blockages if swallowed. Even your Christmas lights are deadly if your pet chews through the electrical cable. As romantic as mistletoe, alongside holly it is also very toxic to dogs.
Watch out for that potpourri as well!
N.B I have also posted lately about acorns and their toxicity to remember when out on winter walks.
3. The Cheese Board
Not quite Russian roulette with the cheese board Lazy Suzanne, but your pet would be in a serious situation if they came across any of these:
Macadamia nuts, 12 hours after ingestion can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia.
Blue cheese contains a substance called roquefortine C, which is a substance produced by the fungus used to produce these cheeses.
In extreme cases this can lead to muscle tremors and seizures.
Don’t forget about grapes and raisins! They are known to be poisonous but are very case specific, some pets can eat two or three and be fine whereas some cases lead to extreme renal failure.
Which leads nicely on to:
4. Christmas cake, pudding, mince pies or fruit loaves. Left around not only would leave your pet feeling sluggish from all of the sugar but the dried fruit will leave them very sick indeed.
5. Left over turkey is a great treat for your pets but the bones can splinter when consumed, causing choking, internal intestinal damage and blockages if they become lodged. So do keep carcasses out of the way of paws.
If you are unlucky enough to be found in the vets on Christmas Eve, don’t panic! As soon as you notice something has gone missing or you catch your pet in the act of eating a poisonous substance, get yourself down to the vets as soon as possible.
Your pet will be given an injection of a solution that stimulates vomiting followed by some active charcoal that lines the stomach to prevent absorption of harmful toxins. It’s not just naughty children that get coal for Christmas, and on that subject, oranges and other citrus fruits can be harmful in differing quantities.  Once your pet is deemed “clear” they will give an anti-vomit injection to prevent damage to the stomach and oesophagus from stomach acid and straining from the vomiting.
I hope this has informed you of the risks associated with festive foods and decorations. Liverpool here I come!

It’s easy as 123, ADV!

An alergy, disease and virus.
Over the past few weeks three topics have interested me whilst at my weekly vet placement and also online newsletters. So here goes, a little insight into the danger of acorns to dogs, FIV in cats and Addison’s Disease (in dogs).
Acorns contain a substance called gallaotannin, when eaten in large quantities gallaotannin can cause severe gastrointestinal upsets with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation and kidney failure. When whole they can cause blockages, whilst broken down they release more toxins and sharp pieces can irritate the gastrointestinal tract.
Green acorns are more toxic than brown, and the outer shell contains the most gallotannin. Some veterinarian suggest that anything contaminated by the oak tree, be it it’s bark, leaves or surrounding water can be a risk to dogs.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), is similar to HIV/AIDS in humans. Despite this, cats can live a good quality life as it rarely leads to “acquired ID syndrome” like in humans, secondary infection usually causes more problems.
There is no cure as of yet but there are preventions. The diagnosis isn’t that simple, the initial test is the ELISA; testing for both FIV and FeLV.
Despite this, ELISA can give false positives, so a lab test is done to confirm that FIV antibodies are in the blood.

A vaccine is one prevention method, although it is risky as it will then show the cat and possibly kittens, as positive under lab tests. FIV is a retrovirus transmitted by saliva to blood, hence cat fights, dish sharing, mural grooming, sex and via the womb to kittens are all sources of the spread. Treating all cat illnesses severely, such as bladder infections and preventing flea bites, combined with a good diet all reduces the risk of FIV to cats.

Addison’s disease otherwise known as canine hypoadrebocorticism, has multiple symptoms so it is hard to diagnose. Once diagnosed treatment is effective and life long. The symptoms include fatigue, diarrhea, sweating, and muscle pain, overall Addison’s disease effects the adrenal glands. Some breeds are more susceptible than others although Secondary Addison’s can be a result of damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus during surgery. Generally, most cases of Addison’s disease are seen in young or middle-aged female dogs. Adrenal glands regulate corticosteroids, Cushings disease can result in Addison’s disease as they both effect the corticosteroids. The effect on the adrenal hormones can be controlled by drugs and a dog can function in everyday life successfully.

Not your average dog walk.

Visiting a normal kennels where dogs are brought when owners go on holiday, or a charity kennels would have been extremely educational on how to care for a dog, but I’ve had dogs all of my life, and my knowledge is not lacking.
Hence, I organised my kennel placement at the Derwent Hunt kennels. With 35 pairs (70 hounds) the overall volume of dogs to care for is triple the amount of a standard dog kennel. The hounds are vital for the hunt as they track and capture the hunted fox. Their tradition in rural villages is still appreciated in today’s society, but not by everyone. As we all know, fox hunting is an extremely controversial issue, with those for and against it for a number of valid reasons. Working with the first whip, j have been able to come to an opinion on the matter, having gathered both sides of the argument with further research to supplement. The days task include, cleaning kennels, changing beds, walking out and finally… feeding! Hounds are fed flesh  (from the abattoir) and hound mix (doggy porridge) on alternate days. Handling flesh has given me more confidence around dead animals, especially horses, which I am sure will be helpful when it comes to practicing on cadavers at uni.
The hounds are taught to act as a pack, they are not your average pet. Teaching them is like teaching a child, it must be repetitive and clear. They are taught their name, sex and simple movement commands such as come back, move out of the way of public and how to move into a line behind their master. Being taught their sex allows them to be split before they are put in to their kennels on an evening. There are three kennels, one for dog hounds, bitches and bitches that come into season for 21 days twice a year. Their naming system is strategic in that the hounds name begins with the first two letters of the mothers name, for example Beatrice the offspring will begin with Be.
Their discipline makes controlling them as individuals easier also, especially when medical issues occur, for example I assisted in the stapling of a barbed wire wound. I’ve also helped to clean a blackthorn paw wound with iodine and treat lameness with penicillin in the form of tablets or injection.
I have loved my time with hunt kennels men and the morning walks with the 70 dogs will always entertain me as the younger pups that have been out on “whelp” are tied to an older, mature dog to learn the rules, dragging them round as they go.

With cereal, in tea or by the glass, what am I?


Over the summer I have been working away both at my parents cafe and also an organic dairy farm!
Howarth’s have roughly 300 cattle that go out to pasture throughout the year and stay in barns during the winter months when they have their 60 day dry period. They are fed fermented grass, known as silage, during this time.
I have gained so much confidence around them and patience! Patience is most definitely the key when working with young calves who don’t quite understand how to suckle. Coloured tape on the cows tail tells you what quantity of food they require, and also which have had antibiotics and so must not have their milk enter the tank.
As part of the organic ethos, use of antibiotics must be limited to cases that are severe, such as scour or watery mouth in calves.
The herringbone parlour has 48 stalls with automatic milk clusters that detach once the milk is emptied. Some cows only have three tests that release milk, along with teats that have warts, lumps and bumps, these are not attached to a cluster as it would cause pain, and the somatic cell count of the milk would be unfit for consumption.
Once a fortnight the cows milk is sampled and tested for somatic cell count and tells the farmer how much cattle mix they need for their weight and milk production.
The milk from the tank is collected every other day, with calf milk being tapped off from this supply, and sometime supplemented by dry milk that is mixed with water. Calves are fed twice a day with up to 2 litres of milk into buckets with plastic teats, some calves are however tubed if they struggle to adapt to this. The harsh reality of milking became clear to me when the calf is immediately take away from its mother to prevent a bond forming, but I realised that this was necessary otherwise their would be no milk for the production line that we rely on so heavily. Working in the cafe I realised how profitless we would be without milk! Lattes, butter, cheese all standard cafe products are all derived from milk.
The 6 am start was tough at first but once I got to work I now enjoy the physical challenge, although it can be messy at times! Despite this, once the teats have been wiped with diluted peracetic acid, the clusters can be attached, the whole process is very clean.
It’s safe to say, milking has now become a part of my everyday week, I enjoy spending time at the farm and helping out where I can because in the long run I learn so much and I play a valuable part to their team. I have assured with dehorning and tagging which are difficult concepts for calves to understand. I was even able to imply some knowledge from lambing on how to keep them still when the hot iron was at work on their horns,  just tie their back legs together.
Work experience has made me realise how worthwhile the time I spend with animals and employers is to gain the perspectives from both the vet and the client.

Diversity: The feathered and the blubbery.

So this week I’ve been mainly stationed at Flamingo Land zoo, assisting the at the Parrot and Sealion Department.

As I started my placement mating season had just begun. Flamingo Land have four male sea lions of rang in ages. Clive, the alpha male who weighs roughly 42 stone, struggles with the basic trainings of a sea lion in captivity, such as ball balancing which they carry out with their whiskers and catching hoops using their binocular vision. Having thought about this, I figured that Clive would not be able to compete in “survival of the fittest” out in the wild, hence why I would like to questions whether the animals in captivity are being bred to their natural standards, as in Clive’s case he does not display natural survival characteristics which would allow him to breed offspring that have good adaptations needed in their natural environment.
Once fed, the water in the three pools is tested, this ensures the water is acceptable for the sea lions, as unlike seals they are not dependent water dwellers they simply use the pools for cooling down as in the wild it is safer on land. The water tests include pH, chlorine and ammonia, all of which are vital in keeping the water at its highest quality. Only one of the pools contains salt water, due to its corrosive properties. Chlorine pools however, can cause ulceration to the eyes of sea mammals and so a salt water pool is essential for cleansing their eyes and skin. Cleaning their enclosures is extensive and extremely wet! Sea lion snot, with its maroon colouring, is notoriously difficult to remove, especially from white walls.
Each sea lion is taught basic skills needed incase of veterinary treatment, such as clearing their nostrils on command for sampling, and placing their head between the keepers toes for a full body exam.
Like the sea lions, parrots are taught using a method known as positive reinforcement this means that they are given a treat (peanuts), a whistle/ bridge or a clap from the audience, these all work as a reward. However, those who show negative behaviour, such as showing predictive instincts towards humans, is not tolerated and can lead to he bird not being flown for a period of time, this is something I struggled to stomach as I feel zoos restrict animals in a way they are punished for their natural characteristics, but I am sure this is not always the case.
Parrot diets consist of fruit, parrot seed and also feed supplements for vitamin balance. Sea lions receive a diet based on fish with added salt as frozen fish loses this vital mineral, also iron and other vitamin supplements are given. Harry the trumpeter hornbill also receives ground insects as he is an insectivore, due to live insects prone to escaping he is given the protein he requires through this method. Larger birds of prey, such as barn owls, vultures and eagle owls receive meat based diets with day old male chicks making up the majority of this diet with capling (small fish) and beef also added. I was shown how to de- yolk defrosted chicks, which I cannot say was my favourite task here but it shows how the audience are given only the best show in terms of reward cleanliness. I also had the opportunity to feed and fly kookaburras and barn owls. The barn owls are used in weddings as ring bearers and so test flying them in different environments is essential.
In terms of medicines and treatments, the need for a vet is a rare occasion as the animals in this department are treated usually by over the counter treatments, such as Aloe Vera for dry feet as the enclosures can cause the birds to develop scabs on their feet. The vets do however prescribe a Frontline spray to kill fleas and ticks and Metacam for beak ache, both of which are used in domesticated pets. The sea lions generally suffer from manly respiratory and eye issues, such as ulcers but also other nose and throat conditions.
I have learnt a lot whilst working here, especially during the hands on experiences such as a sea lion encounter, but also listening to the show scripts. Despite their best efforts I am not yet convinced that I agree with captivity of all animals species, however those that have been bred in captivity no little different and they are all treated to excellent standards. Without the work of zoos, species would be lost due to endangerment and research into their field would be minimal, so I can understand the importance, the economy and business associates with zoos does sometime leave me to question their true reason for existence.
So, as you can see I have been a busy bee even in the holidays, now for a bit of personal statement writing, getting ahead for A2 and hopefully some milking very soon.