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Annathevet turned up last week on one of her many professional/coffee-with-a-friend visits to Swallowtail Hill. She speculated that it could prove extremely difficult explaining to her other friends what she got up to with me. She rehearsed a conversation out loud: “So what do you and your friend Sarah like to do? Go on spa breaks?  Enjoy nights out without husbands in tow?” “No” she replied to no-one in particular, “I go round to Sarah’s and teach her how to empty her dog’s anal glands, she likes that kind of thing.” 

She’s not wrong.   Annathevet is not only a good friend and exceptional vet; she is cursed by the fact that she has to deal with me professionally on a regular basis.   This means she has to let me ‘help’ her as she goes about her work here at the farm because I harbour secret fantasies of being her capable veterinary nurse.  She is very patient with me – I can do all sorts of unsavoury medical procedures competently because of her training.  She is also tolerant of my addiction to veterinary manuals and research papers on the internet – she even spells out the big words when she is making a diagnosis so that I can Google them correctly after she leaves.  This works fine when she is looking after my chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, ducks, rabbits and cats.  But not with the dogs.  Because of course then, she has to cope with my high levels of neurosis and anxiety too.  

On this particular visit she was at the farm to x-ray Dottie’s legs and determine the cause of a persistent limp.  While she set up the x-ray machine I began panicking about the need to sedate Dottie but Annathevet calmly let me wear the protective lead overall (how exciting!) and kept reminding me to breathe while she was sorting out the dog – who of course was fine.  After a cup of hot sweet tea for the shock I was fine too, and as a special treat I let her teach me how to empty Mabel’s anal glands – such fun!  

Annathevet then casually commented that she’d spent much of the previous night in A&E.  It transpired that on a house call two days previously the homeowner had asked if she could free a stray cat that was stuck behind their boiler. This kind of request isn’t unusual for Annathevet – her problem is that she’s too competent by half.  If she turned up to treat your guinea pig and you said ‘while you’re here would you mind rewiring the house, upholstering the sofa, cooking a gourmet dinner and teaching the kids to speak Chinese?’ – She’d just get stuck in.  Anyhow – I digress – in removing the stray cat (a feral Tom with giant cojones and an attitude to match) she sustained a major bite to her right arm which proceeded to swell up to Popeye proportions rendering her rather unwell with septicaemia.  When Annathevet feels ‘off colour’  you take it seriously (this is a woman who I think just bit down on a leather strap while giving birth to her two children).  So she took herself off to hospital (of course!) and demanded a massive dose of IV antibiotics – laughing off the Doctor’s suggestion that she should be admitted – and before you could say ‘catshavefilthymouths’ – she was straight back out on her rounds. 

The poor girl has had quite a week. But don’t worry – I’m going to cheer her up.  No we’re not going out for dinner. Nope, not a trip to the cinema either.  I’m going to let her teach me how to artificially inseminate the pigs!

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