I read Veterinary Science at Bristol University in England, completing my B.V.Sc. Degree, after five years hard slog, in 1958. Within three weeks of qualifying I started work as a Veterinary Surgeon in a very mixed practice in Kent, and I have practised as a veterinarian ever since. I calculate that now (2015) I have spent fifty-seven continuous years in practice.
I practised for nine of those years in various parts of England. The remaining years have been spent in Australia: the first eight in Orbost, Victoria, and the rest in Canberra. This means that I have been practising in Canberra for over forty years!
When I started work, veterinary practice was very different from the way it is today in 2015. We had none of today’s diagnostic tools, such as ultrasound and X-rays, not to mention all the other lovely toys available now. Instead we had to hone our senses. We used our eyes; we had to develop brains in our fingertips so that we could ‘feel’ what was happening; we used our sense of smell; and we learned to listen to our intuition and experience. These arts are now almost dead.
Instead, veterinary hospitals abound and veterinarians can choose from a hosts of tests and a plethora of diagnostic tools. The unfortunate result, due to massive overheads, is that veterinary services are now very expensive — and unfortunately many people simply cannot afford them. The sad result is often that an ill animal either goes without treatment or is euthanised (put to sleep). My philosophy is that there is both an art and a science to veterinary work.
I believe that the animal’s welfare comes first and attention to the owner’s emotions comes a close second.
The purpose of this handbook is to pass on information that works. Much of the content is based on experience and the arts I have described. It is not a scientific manual, but a practical quick reference for home treatment.
Of course, when thinking of and deciding upon treatment options, one must consider both art and science, together with the cost of treatment and the owners ability to provide veterinary nursing.
Lastly, this book contains my views only. If what I recommend is at odds with your own veterinarian’s opinion, then you should take his or her advice, rather than rely upon this book.
Richard H Chapman B.V.Sc.