SO MANY OTHER THINGS is an long-form photo-essay about what it means to work in a suburban small/exotic animal veterinary practice, from the rewarding to the risks and the challenges.
For Dr Louise Grey, family is a way of finding balance alongside being a veterinarian.5 March, 2018. ACT.
Having children has changed the way I think about my job. To an extent, it was just a job before, it was a job I was passionate about but I would like to think that if something happened and I could no longer work as a vet, then I’d still find meaning and value in the act of doing some other career. But for me, now, work is a relief. Children is the hard stuff, the challenging stuff, and going to work is easy. Like, it’s really easy compared to dealing with small people at home who have big emotions. … clinics can be crazy work environments but, oh man, it is so organised compared to little kids.
Nurse Chelsea Rose puts Sushi into recovery following surgery.6 March, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Some of us like surgery, some of us like recovery. Most people will say their favourite role is surgery. I hate it! I hate surgery. I prefer to recover them.
Dr Louise Grey and Nurse Julie Marten perform dental surgery to remove top and bottom incisors from a Netherlands Dwarf Rabbit suffering from dental malocclusion. Rabbit teeth continues growing and chewing teeth against teeth keeps them to a suitable length. Dental malocclusion is a genetic disease that Netherlands Dwarf Rabbits suffer from and it causes the incisors to not grow together; since they don’t meet, they don't grind and continue growing, eventually causing injury and infection.28 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Essentially, I do things to them [animals] that they don’t like very much, and they’re often not in a very good mood, and they often don’t have a very positive outcome. So, if it was a love of dogs and cats, then I think that maybe breeding dogs and cats or training dogs and cats might be a better option.
I think I got into it because I loved animals but if it was just a love of animals as a sentient entity, I don’t that’s a sustainable way to stay a vet, because it would be too heartbreaking. You have to move beyond the, ’I really love the relationship that people have with their dog or cat or horse or rabbit,’ to the medicine side of it and the surgical side of it, the technical side of being a vet because if what attracts you to the industry is a human-animal bond, you’re going to get your heart broken.
Dr Fiona Starr watches Dr Gwen Shirlow extract a woollen chew toy from an unfortunate dog. It had become trapped in the pylorus and, like a plug, stopped anything leaving the stomach. Afatal condition.20 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
I love the diversity – you never know what’s going to walk through the door of a vet clinic. Every day is different, every procedure is different, every surgical case is different. I’m a very physical worker; I like being on my feet running around all day long. … Even though you have a brief idea about what’s going to happen today, there’s always a curveball.
Dr Louise Grey calls a client to let them know the pets they had brought in for testing were both suffering from terminal illnesses, and would likely have days to weeks to live.31 January, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Strays are brought into the practice on a frequent basis. The local veterinary practice is likely to be the first port of call to take stray dogs, and to check if a runaway dog is in their care.6 July, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
The stray dog was neither microchipped nor had dog tags. Receptionist Kelly Haslop had called the Department of Animal Services to collect the dog although, since the call, a person had called the practice looking for a dog with the same jacket. Eventually, the dog was returned to its owner.6 July, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Nurse Chelsea Rose stands outside of the blast radius of the x-ray machine - although the scatter is very limited, staff take precautions to minimise contact to x-ray radiation.28 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Nurse Julie Marten (left) and Dr Karen Viggers, during surgery (anal sacculectomy) to remove anal glands from a dog. It seems like having tonsils out in humans ie if they get infected enough, they come out. The benefit in removing anal glands for the human owner is there is no more distinctive odour and no more bringing a dog (or cat) it to have swollen anal glands squeezed out by veterinary practice staff.23 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
When an interesting surgery is going on, other staff will duck in to see what's going on, if they can't scrub in for it.Dr Karen Viggers (left) and Dr Gwen Shirlow.8 March, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Bill Frost grieves the loss of Ziggy who has just passed away after a losing battle with a massive infection. [TODO: actual case facts.]28 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
I think when I was younger, I was more under the impression that it was more of a positive workplace. I mean, the workplace itself is positive, the people are positive, but the things they have to deal with aren’t always positive. And you have to see a lot of people suffering. … So I would suggest to anyone who was interested to see if they can do a work experience placement or something like that to come in and see what it is they have to do each day.
Dr Karen Viggers mid Anal Sacculectomy, an operation to surgically remove a dog's or cat's anal glands. This surgery is called for if an animal's anal glands repeatedly suffer from infection or impaction.23 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Dr Jess Winsall's shows her parents, Kristin and [TODO: name] around the practice. Kristin kept records of Jess's adventures in a baby book. Early entries show that Jess was very likely to become a veterinarian.29 March, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Mum had a baby book in which she also wrote down all the weird and wonderful things I said. She’s still writing in it today whenever I say something stupid.[Baby Book Entry]5 yrs. 18.11.96. I had a dead baby turkey, ‘Mum don’t throw it out, can we see its heart first?’
Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson (left), Dr Grace Butler (middle) and Dr Jess Winsall.12 April, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Dr Louise Grey (right) gives advice to Dr Grace Butler about suturing a fairly long incision with the same angles as Grey's right arm. It is Butler's first major surgery: debriding a serious amount of necrotic tissue from a cat after it had been bitten by a dog.24 January, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Louise is a really good teacher, ... and I think she’s got a lot to learn from. And she’s more than happy to teach you.
Cosmo, only a few minutes before, was found during regular observation to be non-responsive and in cardiac arrest. Staff administer CPR, adrenaline, and prep to ultrasound the heart for any blockages. Sadly, Cosmo could not be resuscitated. Cosmo had been in for testing, which yielded nothing conclusive and nothing indicative of anything like cardiac arrest. Even with x-rays after Cosmo's death, staff were unable to determine what caused Cosmo's death. It was a hard situation for staff, made harder as they were unable to give Cosmo's owner the gift of the reason why. It was a devastating event.22 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
That typifies the hard part of being a vet, the most devastating, horrible part of being a vet is when something like that happens. You kind of don’t want to do it anymore. ... You start questioning whether this is for you.
It’s like one of those unexpected things, when you know an animal’s dying, you can expect it’s probably going to get euthanised, or its going to die or something like that, and you know it’s happening. When you get an unexpected death, it’s a shock. It’s like, you wonder, ‘Did I do everything right? Was it going to happen anyway?’ The fact that it’s unexpected can be a bit of a shock. That probably is one of the hard things.
Mouth's eye view of an intubation.6 April, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
After examining a young wild Galah brought in by a member of the public, Dr Louise Grey calls [TODO: who?] from [TODO: which organisation], the organisation who would take the bird if it was healthy enough to be rehabilitated. Unfortunately, it was too far gone and subsequently had to be euthanised.28 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Dr Karen Viggers uses a portable x-ray machine to take dental x-rays.9 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Dr Fiona Starr takes a quick look at Teresa Bailey's dog, Hunter. Bailey was concerned by a change in Hunter's behaviour - he was less bright than usual - and felt he needed a checkup.3 April, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Being a veterinarian or a veterinary nurse requires constant learning about new medicines, techniques, diagnostics and treatments.26 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
What's more rare than staff congregating in numbers during the afternoon is that there is the time for them to do that at all.27 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
This fatty lump was removed from the neck of a dog. Disturbingly, it seemed to be its own lifeform, complete with a vascular system.6 April, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Ultrasound is one of an ever-increasing suite of diagnostic tools in veterinary care that parallels human medicine.15 March, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
It's hard to predict the tempo of a veterinary practice. Despite the appointment schedule and the hospital board being attempts to manage practice workload in a predictable way, days can very quickly veer off course as walk-ins, emergencies and consultations extend. It can be suddenly very difficult to grab lunch or even a break.3 April, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
It was just the most peaceful end of life you could imagine. In its home environment, in its own chair, and looking out over its friends. That, to me, would be like how I’d want to go. And that was rewarding because this dog was going to suffer otherwise, and we got to give it its final dignity in its favourite spot.
[TODO: who?] has a bad re-entry during recovery following surgery. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are known for being vocal during recovery.16 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Dr Butler seems to always be nearby when there's a bit of laughter going on. It's the kind of thing a practice needs, particularly during the harder times.19 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
For all the dignity and respect and relief from suffering that euthanasia can provide, the deceased animal ultimately goes into a plastic bag, if not home with its owner. The bag is for hygiene, storage and transport purposes.6 July, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Receptionists Sorrel Nation (right) and Rebekah Morton with [TODO: not bailey].28 January, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Not many people enjoyed doing dentals, particularly with grim scenes like these and the subsequent sounds of metal and bone whining and grinding. Little older dogs seemed to be the main culprits of bad teeth. One approach recommended by staff was to stick a finger in a stocking and rub a dog's teeth, if the dog didn't eat bones regularly, or wasn't interested in bones or any other dentally-oriented foods designed to do the same.6 April, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Practice Manager Bri Smith and her mum, Dr Deborah Williams, do some administration work. Smith is handing over her work ahead of her imminent resignation and move to the UK to live. Williams will be going with her for 6 months but will be able to work remotely while she's away. It's the end of their practice-based partnership which has spanned 17 years, starting when Williams rented the house above the practice she worked at and would buy a few years later. Bri moved from coming downstairs to hang out, to reception at 15 and to practice management a few years later.19 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Success is not the key to happinessHappiness is the key to success.If you love what you are doingYou will be successful.
Nobody with any kind of heart complains when they see a dog like Bailey in reception.15 March, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Kathryn Mattress (right) with Dr Jess Winsall and Bailey. How many clients realise that their vet's previous consultation might have been an unhappy euthanasia? Or how hard a day it's been for practice staff, and how much, sometimes, they need to pull themselves together for the next consult? But, equally, how many clients know the therapeutic value of bringing a puppy into a practice has? Or how much the potential lifelong relationship between practice staff, owners and pets can mean? On this day, Winsall had done two euthanasias before Bailey came in and her spirits were clearly lifted. The circle of life, from birth to death, provides its own balance.15 March, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
You’ve kind of got to compartmentalise the sad days … accept that it’s shit but that’s it. Before the next consult, you’ve got to be OK.
What looks like wrestlemania is really a way to stop an animal from fidgeting. Blowing on the head has thesame intended purpose as tapping on the head - to distract the animal. 9 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
I’ve noticed there’s a lot of young females in this career. And when I was 25, I was an old vet nurse. And I feel like a lot of them come straight out of school and they’re 18, 19, 20, and a lot of them realise that the work … doesn’t pay quite as well as their mates who went into the public service, or went to uni and are now just starting something else. And then they move on to a variety of other things and it’s mostly nothing to do with vet nursing at all, and I do believe that it’s because … there’s no money in it, no career in it.
Dr Gwen Shirlow relates information about puppies to Anthony Rogers, Brooklyn's, owner. Brooklyn had so much energy but was cute enough to get away with the ensuing cheekiness.27 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
At around this time of the day, just before clients start coming in to take pets home after surgery or for consultations after work, there are often a few moments like the eye of the storm.6 July, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Nurse/Groomer Maree [TODO: Name] comforts Phoebe moments before she is euthanised. [TODO: why?].22 March, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
It’s a gift. To be able to end suffering is an unbelievable gift.
The worst thing is when you get to know the animal, and then they come in and they need to be euthanised. That’s the worst thing because you know them on a personal level.
[The hardest thing is] seeing people lose their animals. Knowing that there’s nothing more you can do to help. Knowing that these owners are going to go home now to an empty house.
Nurse Julie Marten and [TODO: who/what?].15 December, 2017. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
I love that caring side of vet nursing, like if you have that animal who needs that little bit of attention more often, ... It’s quite enjoyable, when you gain their trust, you’re helping them that way.
Dr Fiona Starr explains to Xarlene Castro why the scheduled orthopaedic surgery on her dog, Oliver, was cancelled. Between initial diagnosis and today, Oliver's body had begun to stabilise the area around his ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CrCL). Specifically, fibrosis had formed in the area around the knee. Surgery would have yielded no significant improvement and opening the joint might have predisposed Oliver to arthritis.9 March, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
You can’t not be about the people; they are the entire basis of your business when you are working in the veterinary industry. It’s not the animals, it’s the people that have them.
Nurse Chelsea Rose explains to Daniella Cecere the ins and outs of her dog, Daisie's de-sexing surgery during the day, her recovery, and what Daniella will need to do to look after Daisie when she is discharged.6 April, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Bigger dogs have bigger mouths but smaller dogs seemed more likely to bite. [TODO: which dog?]15 December, 2017. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Refractometers are used to measure the specific gravity of a cat's or dog's urine, an imbalance of which could indicate a range of conditions.21 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Daisie is fitted with what sounds like a torture device: an "Elizabethan Collar" (aka "E-Collar " or "Cone of Shame"). It certainly must be tortuous to wear.6 April, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Daisie is discharged to her owner, Daniella Cecere, after a de-sexing operation during the day.6 April, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
[On Discharging Animals] It’s nice to rub their name of the board at the end of the day when they’ve gone, and knowing that they’re home with their happy family. That’s really, really nice.
Dr Grace Butler with her namesake puppy. Ellie Green (with stethoscope) had wanted a puppy for two and a half years and her parents, Dannielle and Al Green bought her and her brother, Ryan, one - Belle - several weeks earlier. Sadly, the puppy had somehow ended up with a terminal coccidiosis; 5 hours after picking the puppy up, it was in vet care and had to be euthanised a few days later. Dannielle and Al decided to get a new puppy straight away, and the Green family decided to call it Grace in recognition of her efforts on behalf of Belle, and Butler is now its regular vet.21 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
All I could think about was that little girl’s face, who had wanted a puppy for two and a half years and she [Ellie Green] got a puppy, she had it [Bella] for five hours and that was it [euthanised for coccidiosis]. … It’s the emotional attachment behind it; you’ve got to have a heart of stone if you don’t think that’s upsetting, that’s not a sad circumstance. It’s a child! An innocent little girl who’s done nothing … and I have to put her puppy down.” [23:25 Cried as well. But they came back a few weeks later to vaccinate a new puppy, called ‘Grace’. Daughter wanted to bring the puppy in to show Grace.] “Which is something that I never thought about going through university, about how this little girl was processing everything, and how she was going, and how she felt I was communicating with her. It obviously had some impact on her, for her to want to come and say thank you to me.
[Dannielle suggested to her children they call their new Cavoodle, “Grace”] ‘because Dr Grace did a great job trying to get Belle home to us,’ which Ella thought was a great idea.
I just thought that taking in the new puppy would be a nice thing to do as everyone at Brudine tried everything, and I am glad we did. I think it put a smile on Dr Grace as big as it did for Ella when we got the second puppy. It was a nice way to end such a horrible experience.
Dr Jess Winsall and Nurse Chelsea Rose clean an open wound on [TODO: dogs name], sustained from a dog bite. Manuka honey is used to aid healing. This process will be repeated several times before the woulnd has healed enough to not require banadaging.19 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Shona and Michael with Violet, a greyhound they adopted from a rescue group. They had spent 2 years transitioning Violet from a dog that only knew how to chase white furry things to a socialised and happy animal. Many people who adopt seem to show a lot of passion for doing the right thing by their animals.28 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Violet and Stitch just after Violet was adopted by Shona and Michael.8 April, 2016. (c) and kind permission, Shona and Michael S.
We got Violet through Greyhound Rescue in Sydney about 2 years ago. We chose her because she was the only dog there that didn’t immediately try to take a bite out of our first dog, Stitch. She had only been with GR for two weeks, and was still rake-thin, and covered in both healed and open sores. We don’t really know how old she is, or anything else of her history. GR guessed her to be about two when they got her, but we now think she might have been as old as four.She didn’t recognise anything other than meat as food at first, and it took a few attempts to get the hang of stairs. She had a habit of freezing when she was scared, which was most of the time. We didn’t work with any specialists, just with the help of the vet and some advice from the ACT Greyhound Support Network. I credit much of the work in teaching her to be a dog to Stitch, our other dog. She’s always been the most affectionate dog, right from day one, and she’s greatly loved.
One of the other hard things is when you see an animal who is suffering, and the owners aren’t willing to do things to help their animal, like if they are dying. It’s very frustrating and you feel for the animal.
I think the hardest part for me is not necessarily the animals. It’s when people bring in something and there’s pure neglect there. For instance, I had this case where people had brought in a dog that had been attacked by another dog … and I saw it a week ago [several weeks later]. That irks me – there was no attempt to try anything. I mean, I’m all about giving it a burl at home if you want to, if you have the common sense to treat it at home, bathe it in salt water, make sure that there’s nothing happening, do all the conservative options before bringing it to a vet. I’m all for that. If there’s pure neglect and you don’t know what’s wrong but then you tell me you’re dog got bitten several weeks ago? ‘Pull your head in – if this happened to you, you’d be in hospital straightaway.’
Louise Dobson takes Harry and his companion home.3 July, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Trainee Nurse Claire Goodlock sits with [TODO: who?] prior to its discharge.27 February, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Receptionist Sorrel Nation signs out.3 July, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Nurse Kelsey Savage.9 March, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Dr Grace Butler (right) lives 200km away. One day a week, she stays with Dr Jess Winsall, a fellow Charles Sturt University graduate and colleague. It's a social thing with all the trimmings, food, reality television and de-briefing about all aspects of their job.21 February, 2018. ACT.
Woodrow came in around closing time as an emergency walk-in. Her owner, Anne-Marie Pero, said he had just enjoyed dinner before suddenly becoming quite poorly and flat. Practice staff, including Nurse Julie Marten, tried to stabilise Woodrow and make him as comfortable as possible while attempting to diagnose his condition. At the same time, Brudine organised for the pet ambulance, operated by Claudia Blackley and Jarrod Male (Pet Ambulance Services), to transfer Woodrow to an after-hours/emergency practice. While staff would have stayed with Woodrow if they had to, practices like Brudine rely on after-hours veterinary services to send staff home at the end of what are often long days, to avoid burn-out. Unfortunately, it was determined that Woodrow had cancerous and untreatable tumours that meant he had to be euthanised overnight.21 March, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
Staff meetings. The best way to communicate key topics but difficult to organise in a practice with 25 staff living across the ACT and surrounding areas.17 January, 2018. Brudine Veterinary Hospital. Charnwood, ACT.
You have to have common sense, be observant, be a good communicator. Apart from that, you have to have the ability to compartmentalise or have coping mechanisms to deal with what we do day-in/day-out.