30 September 2014

Vets and Pets Aplenty!

Please welcome my Tuesday Talk guest
Vet, Malcolm Welshman 

Join novice UK vet, Paul Mitchell, in six months of hilarious escapades he experiences while working at Prospect House Veterinary Hospital. He's confronted by a ravenous pig while sunbathing naked in a cornfield. He locks jaws with a caiman with scale rot, and battles with Doug, a vicious miniature donkey that's always sinking his teeth into him. 
It ends with a Christmas pet blessing which erupts into pandemonium as frightened pets and owners scatter through the pews.
Throughout his adventures, Paul is loyally supported by the team at the hospital - in particular Beryl, the elderly one-eyed receptionist, and, Lucy the junior nurse - together with whom he shares this merry-go-round of mayhem. It's a gripping, fast page-turner that's guaranteed to keep animal lovers entranced.

Over to you Malcolm to tell us a bit more....


Horses are no fools. They can sense when someone is uneasy in their presence. The prick of their ears. Here’s one coming. The snort as they look down their nose at you. Wally’s arrived. The pawing of the ground. Let’s kick him in the nuts. 

And that’s why, as a budding vet, I was apprehensive of working with them. And the reason why as a raw student, very green behind the ears, I felt it wise to understand the beast better by learning to ride one. 

So I embarked on a series of lessons while still at vet school. ‘I take it you’ve not ridden before?’ said the tall, sylph-like instructress, eyeing me up and down, the crop in her one hand being tapped thoughtfully in the palm of the other. Very dominatrix. ‘I’ll put you on Nancy,’ she said.

Nancy turned out to be one of the more elderly residents of the riding school. One that should  have been turned out to grass years back. Long in the tooth, grey in  the muzzle, with a look in her milky glazed eyes that suggested the time was fast approaching when she’d be leaping her final hurdle into the great Knacker’s Yard in the sky should her arthritic old legs ever manage it. Meanwhile she was saddled with the likes of me.

Mindful of  how one should approach a horse, exuding confidence in your stride, talking quietly and calmly, holding out your  hand to allow the horse to sniff it before you stroke its neck, I did all  this to Nancy and was rewarded  with two nostril-barrels of snot and a loud fart.

Not a very auspicious start.

Once mounted, it was cue-time to make Nancy walk.
‘Nudge her with your lower legs. But gently does it,’ barked the  instructress. 
Nancy didn’t budge. 
‘Urge her forward with your heels. Again use the softly, softly approach. Don’t kick her. She won’t  respond to anything too violent.’
Nancy remained stationary.

The instructress marched up to the horse, whacked her rump smartly with her crop and snapped, ‘Move your arse you lazy bugger.’
Nancy walked.

Several times she started to decelerate as if running out of gas, though judging from what she let rip from her rear end at regular intervals as she plodded round the sand school, there was plenty in reserve.
Each time she slowed down, the instructress bellowed, ‘Keep your leg on, Malcolm. Keep your leg on.’
I hadn’t the slightest clue what the command meant. Did she think I had a false limb in danger of unscrewing? But in the hope that the right part of my anatomy would obey her instruction, I clenched all heels, calves, knees, thighs and buttocks, the actions of which, instead of keeping Nancy moving as the command had intended, promptly brought her to a shuddering halt with a final fart. Lesson over.

As it happened, my first equine patient once I’d qualified was not a horse but a miniature donkey called Doug. And he was a beast. A real horror. It was as if, when the characteristics for a good donkey were being drawn from the gene pool, it were the dregs left lurking at the bottom that surfaced in Doug. 

To look at, he was an impressive little chap. Standing at three feet tall, he was a spotted skewbald – mainly white with some grey patches over the cross on his shoulders, and with black tips to his huge, upright ears. 

I was called in by his owner, Jacantha Stokes, to check him over as she was worried he had a skin infection. As soon as he saw me, Doug rolled his eyes, pulled back his head and trotted off across the paddock behind him with a loud snort. 
He then disappeared into a field shelter from which he emitted a loud ‘Hee-Haw’ – his equivalent of ‘Come and get me if you can.’

That’s when the fun and games began. Jacantha lifted a halter and lead off the gate post. ‘’Fraid he’s not very well halter-trained,’ she confessed. ‘But maybe we’ll manage.’
‘Right little fella, no messing around, eh?’ I said, as we drew level with the entrance to the field shelter and I stepped slowly towards him, my knees slightly bent, my arms held out wide. 

Chance was a fine fling when Doug took his chance to dodge me and attempted a giant leap for donkey-kind. I saw this barrel of equine flesh become airborne and fly towards me like Pegasus on Speed. His chest connected with mine and we both collapsed to the ground with him on top of me. As he scrabbled to his feet, I lunged up and threw my arms round his hindquarters in a rugby tackle, only to find myself being dragged several yards across the paddock, before my weight forced him to the ground again, where he began to thrash.
At which point, Jacantha sailed across holding out the halter and attached lead rope. Now astride Doug, I turned to snatch them from her. As I did so, a searing pain shot through my left hand.

‘Ouch!’ I roared, looking down to discover my whole hand was in Doug’s mouth, his incisors clamped to it. ‘Why you bugger,’ I shouted, pulling my hand free. I forced the halter over his muzzle and secured it. I then rolled off him and staggered to my feet. He did likewise. We 
both stood there, quivering, our chests heaving, both done in, knackered. But my close encounter with Doug had enabled me to confirm my suspicions that Doug was suffering from sweet itch. An allergic re-action to midge bites. I advised Jacantha to buy a good insect repellent. ‘One that you’ll only need to apply weekly,’ I said, adding, ‘though I realise it will still be a bit of a challenge.
Doug’s ears shot up and his eyes gleamed with devilish delight.

When writing Pets Aplenty with my alter-ego, Paul Mitchell, also apprehensive about dealing with horses, there had to be a place for that devious donkey. So Doug does indeed make a gripping appearance. He reappears in the final chapter to charge into a church where a Pets Blessing is being held. 
Pandemonium ensues.

Praise for Pets Aplenty:

"...Full of fun, action and laughs and begins with young vet Paul Mitchell dressed up as a fluffy pink bunny! But it's all in the name of charity, and there's lots more hilarious adventures to come as we follow the day-to-day life of this lovable character in his difficult job as a vet."

"Pets Aplenty is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the hayfields of novice vet Paul Mitchell’s rural veterinary practice."

"Take a loveable goofy vet with a heart of gold, plonk him in some crazy animal situations and laugh out loud as he reacts as only he can."

Read more on Malcolm's Website 
Twitter  @MalcolmWelshman

Amazon.co.uk Kindle £1.99

Amazon.co.uk Paperback

Amazon.com Kindle $3.33

Amazon.com Paperback

Pets Aplenty is published by Austin Macauley 

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