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Date:   23 May, 2013  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
The horse who got away & other stories  
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Date:   23 May, 2013 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129

1427. Veterinary stories from a young vet

May 23, 2013

Seldom do I meet young vets as we have our own business to attend to and there may be a generation gap. I had some interesting conversations with one young vet I met yesterday.

Case of a female cat has a distended bladder.
It is very hard to catheterise a female dog or cat, unlike a male dog. In the female cat, it is much more difficult. "Use a speculum or otoscope with magnifying glass," I advised this young vet who would have known what to do from internet research. "The dog's legs must hang down the table." she said. "But I can't locate the urethral opening." The dog must be anaesthesized.

She had a case of a female cat with swollen bladder and asked the owner to visit another vet. "There is a possibility that you use a syringe to suck out the urine and whatever is lodged inside the female urethra would be dislodged," I said there was no need to send the patient away. "Make a small incision after aspiration of the urine deflating the bladder. Place the catheter into the urethra from inside the bladder and syringe in the saline to dislodge the urethra or use a forceps to extract it. You can then stitch up the small incision. The same process applies to the female dog with urethra obstruction."

Case of a runaway neutered horse.

IV anaesthetic was used and she was monitoring the horse anaesthesia. "The eyelids were blinking and I asked the operating vet whether I should top up," she was doing internship in Australia and the horse was being neutered in an open field. "No need to," the other vet said. "In a second, the horse got up and ran away!"

"It is very difficult to catch a runaway horse," I remembered my days as a racehorse vet at the Singapore Turf Club. "How did you two do it?"

"The horse was still wobbly and we caught him."

In any horse story, a pregnant vet was standing near a horse and got kicked. She had a miscarriage. "Fortunately she did not die," I said. "I hear stories of vets killed by kicking horses."

I was telling this young vet that I prefer to visit the old vet practices as many of them have excellent veterinary lessons to learn from. Not the fanciful high tech expensive vet practices where money is not a problem.  "There is an old practice in Australia where the vets don't use isoflurane gas, one young vet told me," I said. "It was a fun practice to do internship. The vets were around 70 years old. A James Herriot type of practice. I would like to visit it. At first the vet who told me of its existence did not want to reveal its name and I told her it was a legal practice. So what is there is hide? Her University lecturers frowned at this practice and could not believe it existed in Australia. I guess it is one of a kind."

I went to visit an industrial shop making gold rings and other accessories with this young vet as the operators were her parents. The workers had gone and now the parents were doing the work themselves. The over 50 years of industrial knowledge were not fully passed on as there were no successors as the elder brother is making more money in IT and the younger one is a vet earning $4,000 a month. "How many thousands of gold ring need to be sold to make $4,000," I said to this young vet. "At 3% of selling price of $200 for a gold ring as profit as your mum said, she needs to sell over a thousand rings."
"But she can sell many rings and make more money than me," the young vet knows the inside of the industry as she was a little girl who was brought to the industrial shop by her parents.  The good times might have gone by. Gold prices have dropped but there is always innovation and a new mindset to revive her parents' business. If only she was interested. "Studying TMC is a waste of time if you want to make money," I said. "Apprentice yourself and improve your parents' business bringing it to a higher level," I advised. Only she and her brother would have the insider's knowledge on what ails the industry but has she the motivation?  "Earning $4,000 a month by being an employee has its limits on earning more," I said. "If you can improve your parents' business and expertise, the income will definitely be more than $4,000!"

The prices of making such rings are much cheaper in Malaysia, China and Hong Kong and the workers are nowhere to be found. The founders who are over 60 years old still carry on.  "It is from such hard work that the parents send a princess to study vet medicine in Australia," I said. The second brother who is keen on continuing this business called this young vet a princess of the family. "You ought to help sustain the family business, but with innovations and new ideas," I said.

"Rather than continuing making the usual gold rings or sourcing them. For example, online sales, using an English name. Not a Chinese name like Hong Hong gold as the global consumers prefer English-sounding brands."  The small animal veterinary practices on the other hand had grown to over 50 in number while such gold producing shops had shrunk in numbers in Singapore. Bali is famous for its gold craftsmanship and Singapore is now not competitive at all. Life is full of changes and one can become redundant or bankrupt with global changes in one's industry and government policies. 
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