World Animal Day, 4th October.

October 4th is designated as World Animal Day;

a day to celebrate the diversity of our planet’s animal species, all creatures whether they are great or small. The human bond with animals begins at an early age; sometimes with the family pet as a newborn, or winning that first goldfish at a fair, or going to a Zoo or Aquarium on a family outing or school trip.

Going further back in time, early man formed an alliance with dogs to mutual benefit; man would feed their Canids in return for helping to hunt and protect. Horses were also used as a way to travel greater distances and to carry possessions in early civilisations.

In wars as recent as World War One, horses were used to move cannons and machinery to the front line.

Cavalrymen relied on the courage and strength of their steeds to carry them into the noise and chaos of the battlefield. Although the bond between horse and rider was strong, and men told stories of their Equine partners’ bravery and sacrifice, it is only recently that these four-legged heroes have officially been recognised and honoured.

This close relationship has continued in recent times and up to the present day. In developing countries and communities that shun modern technology, such as the Amish people, horses are still used as a means of transportation. Equines are still used to pull ploughs through fields as are their Oxen counterparts.

On my travels once, when I visited Mauritius, I witnessed an Ox in harness being used to turn a pressing machine that compressed raw sugar cane in order to release its juice. This juice (a raw form of sugar) went on to be processed and used in the production of Rum. Now, I’m not sure I’d fancy the taste of the cane juice, but the end result, Rum, was pretty tasty I seem to recall!

Another sphere in which many animals excel is that of assistance.

Think of the Guide Dogs that help the blind, the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) horses, Hearing Dogs for the deaf, and the medical detection dogs that can sense the presence of tumours, an impending Epileptic seizure, or low blood sugar levels in diabetes sufferers. I think (as do the rest of the Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre team) that all these incredible animals deserve to be celebrated for the marvellous service they give.

There are some creatures that I think also deserve some recognition and praise; ones that you wouldn’t ordinarily think of and ones that would make a lot of people recoil from their presence. As a Veterinarian I can appreciate the beauty and skill in all things medical and surgical, and so I want to pay my respects to the humble Leech and Maggot. “What!” I hear you say, “Are you mad?” Bear with me as I explain why. Leeches have been used in modern medicine to promote blood flow to tissues (they inhibit blood clots forming), and maggots remove dead/necrotic tissue in wounds so that healthy new tissue can emerge and start the healing process.

But let’s not forget the everyday companions;

they deserve to be applauded too. On every continent and in every country there are animals who mean the world to their owners, furry or feathered. Indeed, for those clever birds that have learned simple phrases, their “conversation” can bring joy and company to those who may feel a tad lonely or isolated. Imagine the happiness that those folks feel when they’re greeted with a chirpy (no pun intended!) “Good Morning, sunshine” first thing in the morning.

The whole SLVC staff love their collective broods immensely and my own furry family members are my pride and joy; they may be a raggle-taggle bunch, but to me they’re perfect and I love ‘em! I can’t wait to see their reaction when baby Underhill arrives in late October (hopefully); I’m sure there will be many adventures to be had for them as their tiny human sibling grows up 🙂

There have been lots of scientific research studies done that demonstrate the beneficial impact that interaction with animals can have on our health and well-being – lowering blood pressure and alleviating anxiety and depression to name just a couple. I don’t know about you, but I find that watching fish swim in an aquarium has a lightly hypnotic effect that is very soothing and relaxing to me.

Social media platforms have also allowed animal stars to shine; not a day goes by with the hilarious antics of the animal world shared. There’s also some great footage showing human acts of kindness to their fellow inhabitants of the earth. My favourites include fishing nets being cut from ensnared Whales, drinking straws being removed from a Turtles’ nostril, and a human chain being formed to rescue a pooch trapped in a deep gulley. There are numerous heart-wrenching examples of neglected cats and dogs being rescued from the streets and nursed back to health in re-homing centres too.

Don’t forget that we are always available to watch over the health of your beloved animal here at Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre, whether it’s for routine vaccinations or for more in-depth health improvement.

I think it’s safe to say that animals make this world a better place to live in, wouldn’t you agree? So let’s all clap, cheer and celebrate the great diversity of animals around the globe on World Animal Day, October 4th.

Until next time; stay safe, stay well, and be happy 🙂