VET’S DIARY: It shouldn’t happen to a vet – but it does

THE majority of the things that I write about in the diary concern my patients or alternatively current issues in the veterinary world, writes Dominic Plumley. However, every now and then they concern one of my own pets and this week is one of these cases.

Last July we took possession of a wonderful sprocker pup, named Jasmine by our kids George and Jack. She has settled in wonderfully and I have lost count of the number of times since getting her that I have found myself thinking what a tremendous addition to the family she has been.

It is all too easy to make an excuse not to get out and about – video games a particularly popular distraction for the boys. When you have accepted the responsibility of dog ownership there can be no excuses, you simply have to get them out for walks. Much to George and Jack’s surprise, this can actually be great fun.

Of course, I am doing the boys a disservice. In truth, they don’t have an aversion to fresh air. Nevertheless, we definitely get out more now that we have Jasmine to look after.

Last week, I had managed to book a few days off with the honourable intention of doing some much-needed winter pruning in the garden. We don’t have a huge plot, but there was plenty for me to go at and all the while that I was outside Jasmine had been pottering about with me. Although I was often engrossed in what I was doing, she seemed pretty content, rarely going out of sight. After several days of much the same thing, I was pretty confident that she wouldn’t wander out of the confines of our garden.

Then disaster struck. One minute she was there and quite literally the next minute she was gone.

The usual whistle or call of her name did not bring her galloping back. Having ensured that she hadn’t just taken herself back into the house, I went back outside and called again – no sign.

Now the butterflies really were starting to churn in my stomach even though she had not been gone for more than five minutes. I phoned the Alnwick surgery to let them know that Jasmine was missing, just in case someone handed her in.

My neighbour, Carys, had now joined the search and within the next quarter of an hour we established that she had apparently not gone down the street or across the way into a field.

With panic starting to set in, I walked down to the police station, where Caroline was extremely helpful in taking details of the missing hound.

All sorts of things were going through my mind, not least ‘it shouldn’t happen to a vet!’ I returned home, ever hopeful that Jasmine may have come back, but still no sign. She had now been gone for about 45 minutes and it was fairly clear that she wasn’t in the immediate vicinity.

I was just heading out of the drive in the general direction of the golf course when I noticed someone parking up a large white van. A chap jumped out and asked me whether I was looking for my dog. Could it be? It was!

The gentleman turned out to be Steve Love, the Environment Agency’s dog warden.

He had kindly just left a message on my home phone and was just about to call my mobile number when he had noticed me looking anxiously about.

So how did he have all of my contact details?

Thankfully, Jasmine is micro-chipped. She had wandered out of the drive end and someone had picked her up and taken her home, calling the dog warden immediately.

Fortunately, Steve was in Alnwick, and he went straight around and scanned Jasmine for her chip details. Using this information he was able to contact me and return our beloved family pet in less than an hour from being missing.

We regularly see pets returned to their owners but it is never more pertinent than when it happens to you.

As you might imagine, following an hour that I would not wish on my worst enemy, my recommendation to microchip all pets is especially enthusiastic.