The chicken fancier - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

The chicken fancier

VICKI BROWN
continues her
series on client
behaviour, under
the heading
‘Challenging clients: from the
weird to the wonderful’, with a
case of feathery fun

SUSIE CAN’T REMEMBER THE LAST TIME, if ever, that she splinted a cockerel’s leg, and it doesn’t help that Major Bradwell is a veritable peacock among poultry with a lineage extending back seventeen generations and a barnful of rosettes, trophies and medals that would induce tears of joy in the meekest of poultry owners. Moreover, Major Bradwell’s owner, a fiftysomething dowager who clearly fancies herself superior to most, if not all, is hanging onto Major Bradwell – all the nurses being peracutely engaged – while Susie attempts the splinting. With Major Bradwell flapping and squawking, and his leg dangling at ominous angles, Susie reflects on how she had no prior appreciation of how a chicken (more familiar to her in the version that is feather-free, trussed and bound in cling-film) could be both so strong and so fragile at the same time. She’s armed with a small dog splint, three rolls of Coform, K-band, Soffban and plaster, and the theory of applying a splint to said chicken, while seeming wonderfully simple
and practicable in the relative safety of the consult room, now seems quite another in the prep room, with the absence of calm and competent nurses making itself felt more painfully by the second, and the presence of Dowager Dorothea heaping coals onto
the bonfire of Susie’s blood pressure. “For God’s sake gel, are you a
professional or aren’t you?!” Dorothea shrieks as a whirl of feathers spiral up her elongated nose. “If Major Bradwell incurs any further injuries, I’ll sue you! He’s worth five hundred pounds!” “Actually,” Susie thinks grimly, “with a distal complete oblique displaced tibial fracture, he’s worth nothing. Zero, zip, zilch, nada. Barely merits
roasting.” “What? What did you say, gel?!” Dorothea’s eyes are twin gooseberries on stalks. Oh dear. Susie must remember to guard her clinical opinions unto herself. They hadn’t emphasised that objective in vet school, but when she’s appointed Senior Lecturer in the intricacies of Chicken-Owning-Client- Vet-Interactions at the latest vet school that’s bound to sprout up sooner or later (Wales is sure to be high on the Next Vet School map, probably
somewhere with a quaint name, like Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch) she’ll be sure to push the point firmly across to her sea of admiring students. Meanwhile, dowager Dorothea is glaring at Susie and silently demanding a response. “I said, with a distal complete oblique displaced tibial fracture, he merits toasting.” “Toasting?” Dorothea’s eyebrows hike skywards into her tastefully tinted wave of hair. “Toasting. You know. Champagne.” Oh God. Spade. Hole. Dig. At that, Major Bradwell makes a concerted bid for freedom, Susie squeezes him somewhere off-centrekeel- possibly-more-abdominally and oops, a large wet dollop of something green and slimy squirts into Dorothea’s tastefully tinted do. Dorothea gasps and splutters. Susie tries to stop a tide of anxious giggles erupting from her chest. Next time, Susie thinks, as she gamely dissects cockerel faeces from the dowager’s hair, she’ll refer anything that isn’t dog, cat or rabbit to the exotics specialists in Lambourne, a
good thirty miles away. They’re bound to enjoy some feathered antics, even if they do come with a dour dowager attached. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with those of the author.

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