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A park visit
01/07

I waited patiently behind the boat trailer, indicator ticking away. Finally, a break in the traffic eased us both into the carpark. For once there were empty spaces, and I parked the van. My client gave me a friendly wave from the back of her car, where she was talking to her dogs. I hopped out, and went over to give them a pat.

“Welcome to my office,” I said with a smile. It was a cool, grey old day, but the river was fresh and clean, and a few people were braving the lazy breeze to walk their dogs in the park.

“It’s a bit cold, it is,” she replied. “Are you ready to titre test them? I have my young fellow, he’s due for his first yearly booster, and this old Dachy belongs to a friend of mine, he’s had yearly vaccinations every year for 10 years.”

“Yes, I have it all ready to go in the van – I just have to get the test kit out, warm it up and get it all organised, then we can collect a little bit of blood from them and run the test.”

I went to my van, pulled the test kit out of the fridge, and then popped the little plastic device with the wells of reagent in it into some warm water I’d brought along in a thermos. While it was warming up to the right temperature to make the test functional, I got a couple of syringes with needles prepared; and everything else I needed – the tiny glass tube with a wire plunger to draw up a precisely measured 10 microlitres of blood, my phone to act as a timer, and the scale to read the tests with after they were done. By the time I’d done all of that everything was warmed up and ready to go.

“Ok, lets start with the first one,” I said.

She brought the little old Dachy over, and I clipped a patch of hair off over his vein on the front leg – and a very short little leg it was, too, but I managed to get some blood out, all the same.

“Can you get blood out my little fellow without clipping any hair off?” she asked “He’s a poodle, and I don’t want to ruin his hair cut!”

“I’ll do my best to,” I replied, “but I’ll probably have to clip a little bit off so I can see the vein.”

Sure enough, despite the complaints, I had to clip som of his hair of the immaculately coiffed front leg. He was one of those dogs with an invisible vein, and I’m sorry to say I made a bit of a pin cushion of the poor little bloke before a spot of blood finally welled up in the syringe.

“Righto, I’ll need to run the test now, which involves a whole lot of sitting and watching the timer, and moving these little plastic test sticks from one well to another. I think you’ll be a whole lot warmer in your car, it’ll take about 20 minutes.”

She vanished rapidly to get out of the wind, and I sat there, watching the numbers get smaller and smaller before shifting the tests into their next tiny bath. In the end (no surprise to me), they were both strongly positive to all three vaccines – Parvo, Canine Hepatitis, and Distemper. Their owner was very happy to avoid the need to vaccinate any further, and I was happy to help two more dogs avoid having a potentially harmful biological medicine!

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