Photoessay - Mornings - So Many Other Things

If only vetting just consisted of treating sick animals. But it didn’t. There were so many other things.
— James Herriot [Pen name of James Alfred Wight]
Scientist, Detective, Carer, Shepherd, Counsellor, Colleague,
Mentor, Negotiator, Advocate, Risk Manager, Educator.

Trainee Nurse Claire Goodlock (left) and Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson start work half an hour before opening to prepare the practice. 16 March, 2018.

Dr Deborah Williams reviews the appointment schedule before 8:00am opening. 20 December, 2017.

Regular client, Louise Dobson (right), drops Rubi off and chats with Receptionists Kelly Haslop (left) and Sorrel Nation. Rubi is having an ultrasound to check for stones. 16 March, 2018.

I was very fortunate that we tried Brudine when I did need to see a vet. I was very impressed as it was a small practice back in those days. I had the opportunity to meet all the vets and build a strong relationship with Fiona [Dr Starr]. Over the past four years, I have seen the practice grow with more vets joining, yet it still has the same family charm it had when I first attended. I love the fact that everyone knows me and knows my dogs – I now have four!
— Client Louise Dobson

Pip spent the night in the practice on a drip after surgery the previous day. Nurse Kelsey Savage takes him to the toilet before the practice opens. Impressively, Pip manages to urinate continuously for more than a minute. 20 December, 2017.

8:00 am - Opening Time

Nurse Kelsey Savage cleans the kennel of a dog who stayed overnight after surgery the previous day. 6 July, 2018.

Diesel is a Shar Pei, a breed wary of strangers and prone to aggression. Knowing this means precautions can be taken by practice staff to keeping themselves and the animals safe during treatment. 2 January, 2018.

Nurse Chelsea Rose does a basic examination while admitting Lucy for day surgery (de-sexing). 22 March, 2018.

Ingè Eccles has brought in Kensie, a Shar Pei, with "Shar Pei Fever". One symptom can be amyloidosis, a build-up of the amyloid protein in the kidneys. There is no cure but blood tests are taken regularly and the drug, Colchicine (prescribed for Kensie) is used to reduce the frequency and intensity of amyloid protein build-up. 20 February, 2018.

Wean, belonging to Brudine Nurse, Skye Longley, has been brought in very flat, not eating and with diarrhoea. She’s in very poor shape. 16 February, 2018.

Ultrasound showed that this very sick dog's liver was tumorous. The only option was euthanasia and it had to be done as quickly as the dog’s owner could get back to the practice. 6 July, 2018.

Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson sets up a blood test.  14 December, 2017.

Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson sets up a blood test. 14 December, 2017.

I really like the lab part, taking bloods and putting drips on and that kind of stuff. I always thought surgery would be my favourite part of it but I much prefer taking bloods and running them and working out what’s wrong with the animal. I guess I get that from Mum; Mum was a phlebotomist.
— Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson

Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson mixes IV fluids with a combination of Morphine, Lignocaine and Ketamine (aka "MLK"). It's for a dog needing invasive orthopaedic surgery later in the day. 16 March, 2018.

I’m not really a sit-down desky kind of person. I’d be bored out of my brains; I’m a physical person.
— Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson

Nurse Kelsey Savage itemises a delivery of prescription food and other consumables. 20 February, 2018.

Nurse Maree Watt grooms Yogi Bear, a Malamute. The bigger the dog, the longer the grooming. 15 March, 2018.

It's not unusual to see owner's like Marie Stove relate pet history and symptoms visually via devices. Her Conure, Peanut, needed a beak trim. 20 March, 2018.

Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson draws blood for pathology. 14 December, 2017.

Dr Fiona Starr in consultation with Jessica Kraen and Astro. 20 February, 2018.

Dr Grace Butler (left) is consoled by Nurse Skye Longley after euthanising a dog whose owner was deeply upset and had little time to both process the upsetting news and agree to euthanasia. 6 July, 2018.

There are some cases where it’s shit and you don’t want to do it, and you do get upset. I think that’s dependent on your client and their situation.
— Dr Grace Butler

Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson admits Oliver for surgery to repair a torn Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CrCL), relating the necessary details to Oliver's owner, Xarlene Castro. 9 March, 2018.

I like to know that those owners are really happy with what’s going to happen with their animal that day. I like to know they are confident that we are going to do what their pets have come in for and that we are going to look after them.
— Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson

Daniella Cecere (middle) and her six month old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Daisie, who is being admitted for de-sexing surgery. 6 April, 2018.

Dr Jessica Winsall surveys the hospital board during rounds. 14 December, 2017.

There’s a lot more staff here, so it’s more chilled. And the staff here are so friendly and willing to look after each other.
— Nurse Julie Marten
Brudine is much more like the type of practice that was common when I graduated, and is becoming less common – the privately-owned, working together as a close team, sort of business.
— Dr Louise Grey

Dr Gwen Shirlow (left) and Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson assign veterinarians to hospital patients who can be in for surgeries, long-running tests or observations. 14 December, 2017.

Trainee Nurse Claire Goodlock tackles the endless laundry of a veterinary practice. 9 March, 2018.

Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson (left), Nurse Chelsea Rose (middle) and Dr Grace Butler try to sedate Zac. Knowing Zac can be uncomfortable in these situations means they can protect themselves and Zac using a muzzle and a towel. 9 March, 2018.

The wariness of strangers and subsequent defensiveness being exhibited by Diesel is common to the Shar Pei. Diesel’s owners let staff know he might need care, which gives staff the cue they need to take precautions to protect themselves and Diesel. 2 January, 2018.

Dr Gwen Shirlow (left) and Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson get ready to ultrasound Storm's abdomen for a suspected blockage. 20 February, 2018.

Nurse/Groomer Maree Watt shows some of the fur that has come off during the grooming of a large dog, Ghost. Included are a few grass seeds, the nemeses of long-haired dogs. 24 January, 2018.

Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson draws blood from Rufus while Trainee Nurse Claire Goodlock restrains him. 6 April, 2018.

Speed is essential when an animal won't stay still during x-rays. In these cases, it can be quicker for one staff member to forgo the step of wearing protective lead-lined clothing and trigger the x-ray machine from outside radiology while another staff member restrains the animal. However, this means they must stand well outside the x-ray scatter range as Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson is doing here. 16 March, 2018.

Speying prevents pyometra (infection of the uterus) and reduces the chances of breast cancer. 12 February, 2018.

Dr Fiona Starr has come in on her day off to prepare for an invasive orthopaedic surgery later in the week. 15 March, 2018.

Nurse Chelsea Rose (left) and Nurse Kelsey Savage prep an anaesthetised dog for surgery and monitor its vital signs. 7 December, 2017.

During Brudine’s annual open day, clients said more-or-less the same thing to me:

‘I didn’t realise you had this many staff.’


‘I didn’t know the nurses were capable of doing all this stuff that they do.’


‘I didn’t realise how much you guys do out the back here.’
— Practice Manager Bri Smith

Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson (left) educates Trainee Nurse Claire Goodlock. 6 April, 2018.

Nurse Chelsea Rose takes paw prints from a recently euthanised dog. 6 July, 2018.

The paw prints will be sent with a card to the deceased animal's owners. 6 July, 2018.

Euthanasias are difficult, but I think it’s one of the most important parts of my job to try and make that as smooth and peaceful as possible.

There are clients that I’ve known for years and I’m really glad that I can be there to guide them through that final act and try and make it smooth for them.

And because they know me, they can have someone they know in that situation. I will even come in on days that I’m not there to do something like that.
— Dr Karen Viggers
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 Kelsey Savage
To be able to end suffering is an unbelievable gift.
— Dr Arianne Lowe

Dr Jessica Winsall doing a spey. 15 March, 2018.

Grass seeds are nature's "slow bullets". Not only do they stick to fur, but they can pierce skin, travel through tissue and penetrate organs, sometimes fatally. 20 December, 2018.

I think you can float between cases as long as you’re work is done and your animals are OK, you can definitely go and hang around and see a really amazing surgery while all the other vets are like, ‘Yeah, we really want to see it but we have consults to do.’
— Nurse Skye Longley

Practice Manager Bri Smith (left), co-owners Dr Deborah Williams (middle) and Dr Fiona Starr with son Reuben, have a business meeting at Starr's house on her day off. 28 February, 2018.

Nurse/Groomer Maree Watt gives Charli a trim. 1 March, 2018.

Dr Gwen Shirlow calls an owner about a case. 20 February, 2018.

Dr Fiona Starr in the middle of an orthopaedic surgery. 7 December, 2017.

Essentially, I picked Fiona at the get-go because she was keen to do the surgery that I was becoming less and less thrilled to do. But she also brought young enthusiasm to the practice. I encouraged the other staff - not that many when she joined us - to to really dig into that enthusiasm and new knowledge she brought to the practice.
— Dr Deborah Williams

Nurse Ana Manuolevao (right) brings her one month old son, Laulelei, to the practice to introduce him to staff: Dr Deborah Williams (left) and Practice Manager Bri Smith (middle). Manuolevao returned to work in August, 2018. Brudine is supportive and flexible with staff having or raising children, which is also pragmatic: there are four times as many female veterinary services staff as males in the industry. 12 February, 2018.

What are we going to do, not hire females anymore? Then we wouldn’t have a business. We have enough trouble getting vets now!
— Dr Deborah Williams
As of the Australian Census in 2016, there are approximately four times as many females in veterinary services as men. Brudine is an outlier with one male and approximately twenty-four females. Staff noted the difficult of hiring staff in Canberra at all, and most applicants are female.

Billy sits with his owner, Practice Manager Bri Smith, who likes working in a dimly lit office. 5 March, 2018.

I enjoy sitting in my office for hours, doing crappy things that I don’t want to do, and coming out and being able to have a laugh with my colleagues.
— Practice Manager Bri Smith

At Brudine, veterinary nurses like Kelsey Savage are involved in a wide range of the clinical aspects of service delivery. How much nurses can participate differs from practice to practice. 27 March, 2018.

Dr Louise Grey examines Grizzly Bear. Grey grew up with rats and, disappointed with the lack of veterinary interest in treating them, has a passion giving care to small and exotic animals. 6 March, 2018.

I charge small and exotic animals like they’re a dog or a cat because they are as difficult if not more so, and because it’s required me to invest in an enormous amount of continued education, and I’m one of the vets in Canberra who understands these species and is willing to treat them.
— Dr Louise Grey

Dr Fiona Starr expresses an infected anal gland. 10 March, 2018.

Nurse Skye Longley finishes expressing an infected anal gland. 10 March, 2018.

I still believe vet nursing has this idea, probably like a vet as well, that you get to spend a lot of fun time with animals, which you do. But there’s also a lot of hard work and a lot of shit work as well. There’s a lot of cleaning of animals and cages and the practice, and stocking. Lots of mundane work.
— Nurse Skye Longley
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 the work doesn’t pay as well as their mates who went into the public service, or went to uni and are now just starting something else. Then they move on to a variety of other things 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.
— Nurse Skye Longley

Dr Deborah Williams (left), industry veteran, and Dr Grace Butler, new graduate. 12 February, 2018.

Almost everyone in the practice has a pet, if not several. Nurse Skye Longley (left), has Wean who [at the time of photography] has a 10% chance of surviving what is most likely sepsis. 16 February, 2018.

Dr Fiona Starr palpates Annabelle who was brought in by her owner, Linda Parchi (right), and Linda's neighbour, Chris Foley. Annabelle had been anorexic for three days, was vomiting froth and had blood in her diarrhoea. She could possibly have been suffering a pancreatic episode, as she was prone to pancreatitis. She stayed in hospital overnight on fluids, was prescribed metronidazole and amoxycillin and fully recovered. 19 March, 2018.

More and more people have pets and love them more as a support tool. At university, they are teaching young ones in vet science to do what they can and then send them to specialist. The drift to the GP/Specialisation model is going to make it really expensive for people. The vet industry going in that direction is going to make it hard for that little old lady, the pensioner. I can’t see that being good for the whole of society. How are they going to get best vet care, or any vet care if they can’t afford it?
— Dr Deborah Williams

Bill Frost with Budgie, who is in to get a blood test under anaesthetic to determine whether she has the same virus that her partner, Ziggy, possibly died from a week earlier. 9 March, 2018.

Dr Fiona Starr takes Jordie's temperature as part of a physical exam. 20 February, 2018.

They don’t tell you in vet school that you spend 90% of your time with your finger up a dog’s bum, and the other 10% injecting them with needles.
— Dr Louise Grey

Nurse Chelsea Rose fills in at reception, and settles Rebecca Nyman's and Alfie's account. 24 February, 2019.

Alex Swalling sees Dr Gwen Shirlow in a behavioural consultation for Bailey, a dog with neurological issues that makes her overly protective and, recently, prone to biting members of Swalling's family. Swalling hopes to rehome Bailey and Shirlow thinks that should be OK as long there are no children or pets in the new home, but has recommended a behavioural assessment be done outside the practice. 27 March, 2018.

Today's lunch roster. 15 March, 2018.

Dr Gwen Shirlow (left) and Nurse Julie Marten intubate a dog prior to surgery. 14 December, 2018.

Weighing a Conure ... best done quickly! 23 February, 2018.

Dr Jessica Winsall finishes suturing with a dab of super glue. 22 March, 2018.

Sarah Hausner makes another appointment for her dog, Jordie, with Dr Fiona Starr (left) and Receptionist Rebekah Morton. 20 February, 2018.

Dr Fiona Starr operates. 26 February, 2018.

Dr Arianne Lowe with Lily, one of the animals cared for at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve where Lowe's work the reserve's vet centre includes nutrition, surgery and education. 5 July, 2018. Tidbinbilla, ACT.

It’s real soul food for me. The work [at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve] is very different, it’s at a different pace because you’re looking at larger scale, like population management, like 60 wallabies and what’s happening with their feeding regime, their nutrition; I do a lot of nutrition review. Then there’s clinical work and the endangered wallabies managed really closely at the individual level.
— Dr Arianne Lowe

Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson monitors Lucy after surgery and waits for signs of wakefulness, like swallowing and licking, before she can extubate. That wait can sometimes more than an hour and a staff member must be present for the duration. 22 March, 2018.

Castration can prevent testicular cancer and some prostate problems. 16 February, 2018.

[Name of male dog being castrated] will be going home a couple of stones lighter.
— Vet Humour

Dr Gwen Shirlow takes advantage of a few free minutes to rest. She returned to work after a serious illness but has not completely recovered and goes home early. 31 January, 2018.

Practice Manager Bri Smith (left) and Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson wrangle a roster for twenty-five full-time, part-time and casual staff. 31 January, 2018.

Nurse Chelsea Rose (left) monitors a patient's vital statistics while Dr Gwen Shirlow operates. 7 December, 2017.

Isoflurane anaesthetic is delivered to Bear the ferret to knock it out before an ultrasound. Ferrets are always on the go and often prone to biting, hence the need for sedation during diagnostics that require them to stay still. 27 March, 2018.

Surgery is undertaken to repair a serious spiral fracture of a dog’s right hind leg tibia. The aim of the surgery is to stabilise the tibia by inserting a 30cm steel rod into the bone. One question that is likely on the minds of general practice veterinarians is how long they’ll be able to continue doing surgeries like invasive orthopaedics; the industry trend is towards a GP/Specialist model as with human medicine. 16 March, 2018.