2020; So long and thanks for all the …..nothing!

When I pulled up a chair (with a cuppa and biscuit for company 🙂 to write the latest Karl’s Corner blog, my intention was to write about settling a new puppy or kitten into your home at Christmas. It’s not a subject I was particularly looking forward to penning as a Veterinarian; every year I find myself praying that maybe this will be the festive season that won’t see rescue centres dealing with a New Year influx of unwanted ‘presents’. Sadly, I have no doubt that there will still be a flood of animals to these sanctuaries, but the blame won’t be entirely Christmas’ fault; Covid-19 and the ensuing pandemic will also be culpable.

I took the first sip of my tea (congratulating myself on my brewing skills!) and suddenly realised just how much we’d all been through, so I thought I’d do a bit of a ‘round up’ to conclude the year with instead. Such a random year deserves a bit of a random blog as a fitting end to it, don’t you agree?

The initial lockdown, version 1.0 as it’s ‘affectionately’ been widely called, knocked us all off our feet and dampened the national mood faster than Usain Bolt sprinting for Olympic gold in his hey-day! BoJo and crew battened down our collective hatches and life as we knew it greatly changed overnight; something many generations had simply not dealt with, although those who lived through (and immediately after) WW2 knew the drill.

Thankfully the dust settled a little – and I do mean a little – and we were permitted to exercise outdoors for one hour per day. Suddenly, walking became de rigueur; even if you didn’t enjoy it, you suddenly felt a fondness for it – just to escape the four walls of home! Every man (and his dog) started strutting down the sidewalk and regular dog-walkers and ramblers found their usually quiet paths becoming jolly popular. If you didn’t have a dog, you got one blooming quick – much to the joy of unscrupulous puppy farmers who were rubbing their hands in money making glee. Please folks, never support this kind of industry; if you want a dog then consider rehoming one (or buy from a reputable breeder), or if you want a dog without commitment, then volunteer as a walker at your local rescue centre J.

All these extra pets meant that we saw an increase of patients at Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre’s doors as you all did the responsible thing and booked in for vaccination appointments. I have to admit that all the puppy and kitten cuddles we got did brighten our days – one of the things I love most is the smell of a pup!

Across the United Kingdom, you could hear cats purring with happiness that their (now furloughed or working-from-home) human minion was around more to tend to their every whim, and dogs yipped excitedly as their leashes were taken off the hooks more than usual. The extra belly rubs weren’t going unappreciated either! All this sudden, unusual activity meant that we did see a couple of cases of lameness due to quicker-than-usual wearing down of claws and bruised paw pads; pooch’s were sometimes getting 2 or 3 times more walks than usual as different family members took them out. Mind you, I’m guessing there were a few humans that were feeling achy and maybe nursing a few blisters on their feet, due to being unaccustomed to walking more!

Home education got thrust upon unprepared parents as schools had to (pretty much) instantly close to all children, except those of key-workers. My wife and I thought we were quite competent with Jesses learning and accordingly awarded ourselves a jokey OfSted (‘CovSted, as we called it!) rating of ‘good’ 🙂 How we’d have fared with an older child, I’m not so sure.

Many of us had to get used to working in cumbersome PPE when we were around colleagues and members of the public; that in itself is a CV-worthy skill, let me tell you! Here at SLVC we had a significant reduction in the numbers of personnel we could permit onsite and it did have an impact on scheduled procedures that we could safely undertake. At this point, I just want to say a massive, heart-felt thank you to every single one of my team. I always knew you were incredible, but seeing you all step up had me awe-struck and I shed a tear of pride at you all more than once – thank you for being so amazing 🙂

Thank you so much to our clients for being so understanding and patient during these strange times, when our service has had to be different.

I have talked about the wonders of science, in particular Veterinary Medicine before, and the incredible advances that have been made in this field. However, I think the crown for brilliance has to go to the research teams from all around the globe who have (in less than 12 months!) brought an effective vaccine for Covid-19 to the market. From the depths of a despair-laden, bleak year, these people have worked tirelessly and risen with the gift of hope in their hands; so it’s on this positive note that I end this final blog of 2020.

As ever, I and the Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre team will be here for your furry family members over Christmas and New Year, so please contact us if you have any concerns about your pets’ health. I wish all of you, and your furry and non-furry family members, a wonderful festive season – let’s hope 2021 will be a happier new year. Those of a certain age (and fans of Douglas Adams) will appreciate this little piece of paraphrasing: “2020; so long and thanks for all the ….. nothing”!

Until next time; stay safe (in which ever tier you find yourselves in), stay well, and be happy 🙂