Our home visit service has had its wings clipped by COVID.
We may still consider home visits in exceptional circumstances, but it's certainly not a priority for us during the "New Normal".
I'll leave the information below for the nostalgic, and perhaps the "old normal" will return one day.
We still run our "At Home" service. It's not something I'm so keen to promote, but having purchased a new vehicle in November 2018, we're going to keep on
Home visits are available on Weekdays between 11am and 4.00pm. Pre-booking helps us to organise our schedule, but we'll always try to fit in urgent calls, and can usually provide a same day response.
It annoys me when our receptionists try to give an accurate appointment time for a visit. Nobody can predict traffic, and whilst you know roughly how long a check for a vaccination is going to take, if a poorly patient has to be brought back to the surgery for further investigations, then the vet is inevitably going to start running late.
We will also consider emergency visits outside these hours, but we find it difficult to be in 2 places at once, and most "Emergencies" can be treated more effectively at the surgery.
It is more expensive to provide a mobile service. The obvious costs of vehicle, maintenance, insurance, fuel spring to mind, but it is also not a very effective use of vet/nurses time, sitting in traffic. We have clients as far away as Walsall, Atherstone, Alrewas and Erdington. Whilst I used to have a flat rate consultation fee, and not charge for the travelling, we've now reduced the consultation fee, but introduced a scale of visit charges depending on location.
Our visit fees for new clients as of 04/01/20 range from £90.00 for a local visit eg Tamworth through to £120.00 for our most remote destinations eg Aldridge, Erdington.
Our existing (and loyal) clients may benefit from significantly discounted visit fees.
(It's a little dig at insurance companies, energy suppliers and banks who offer better deals to new customers at the expense of their existing customers. We like to do things differently.)
Apart from the price you pay for the visit, the fees for the consulation and treatment are very similar to what you'd pay at the surgery. (At the surgery, a computer system works it out, at home you have to rely on the vets computations)
Don't count your chickens....
(I'll leave this on here for now- it shows a compassionate side ("crazy pet owner") of me that may be less discernable to recent visitors. Ours was already a difficult job, and crazy pet owners with unrealistic expectations, basic budgets and Dr.Google on their shoulder aren't making it any easier.)
It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the passing of "Spot Smith", quite literally the face of "At Home Veterinary Services". They say that dogs are like
their owners, but to label him flatulent, grumpy and grey is a bit harsh in an obituary, (and not especially kind to Louisa). He possessed some of those qualities latterly, but I'd love to hear that
growl again, and any negatives are heavily outweighed by the joy he brought to us all over his 17 years.
He came to me as an aggressive adolescent, less than a year old, but with a violent history. His death sentence was commuted to castration, and although he was quite a wayward youth, we never regretted that decision. Whilst we were fairly sure he'd never bite, he did like to chew: chair legs, car interiors, wallpaper, plaster, and plant pots were all his playthings. (I don't think I'd heard of dog crates at that time). It got particularly frustrating when the plants and soil were also strewn in his pathway of destruction, and if he wasn't the chewing plant pots, then he was cocking his leg up them. This was just about tolerable at home, but not so popular when we went visiting. Better still, it wasn't just plants that he liked to water...
Perhaps his finest hour was the day after our wedding. We were celebrating with some guests in the garden. Spot was meandering around the crowd, probably with food on his mind. It's difficult to do it justice in words, but I think it was a combination of his timing, his nonchalance, and his selection of an appropriate victim. Having sniffed at the leg of a sitting target, he then anointed him. "Spot-on"- the gentleman he chose, was loud with his vocal outrage, but good enough to see the funny side a little later.
When he wasn't doing comedy, he could also do compassion. He once found us a mangy Guinea pig in a hedge bottom, whilst out walking, and showed a great interest in its recuperation. Having initially been slow to pounce on it, he was to regret that decision for years as he fanatically watched it from behind the safety of wire mesh. It wasn't just Guinea pigs that he cared for, he used to recognise the theme tune for "Animal Hospital" and come running in to watch it. Our old television cabinet was testament to his interest in veterinary matters as it was scratched to pieces where he used to jump up for a better view. I'm pretty sure it was Spot who encouraged me to set up my own practice just so that he could get closer to the action. He also played a big part in bringing up 3 children. "Nanny Spot" was always there, particularly at meal times, and was reluctant to let anyone he didn't know pick up the babies.
I'd like to think his interest in the Guinea pig and the children was altruistic, but if i'm being honest, I think it might have been related to his keen interest in food. He used to salivate as he watched the Guinea pig, and he'd be there like a shot if the children spilled (or regurgitated!) any food.
As the family grew, new animals were acquired, and Spot had to share the limelight. He'd mellowed a lot as he got older, and wasn't far off being a perfect family pet. We enjoyed many good years together before age began to diminish his powers. His legs became weaker, and his eyes and ears deteriorated. What did remain however was a keen sense of smell. He used to drag behind on walks, and if he got too far behind it was usually because he'd homed in on something disgusting. A rotten dead fish, a decomposing sheep's jaw-bone, and some raw belly pork in a hedge by the canal were amongst the things I managed to find before he'd eaten them completely. Whilst these items were perhaps an acquired taste, he also enjoyed some traditional fayre. He was always keen to escape into the front garden to join our neighbours for a barbecue, and I once had a phone call from The Red Lion, to say they had found an uninvited guest scrounging in their beer garden.
Sadly in his latter years his kidneys began to fail, and the majority of his diet became Renal prescription food. Whilst he'd probably rate the palatability some way behind rotten fish and baby vomit, Spot ate his prescription diet stoically, and I started to really believe that prescription diets might be helpful in managing renal failure. However it seems that we were just delaying the inevitable. Kidney problems and arthritis are a difficult combination and to my lasting regret Spot succumbed on the 30th August 2013 whilst we were away in Mallorca.
It gave me a taste of being the worried owner on the end of the phone relying on the professionals to try and help me make the right decision for both our pet, and our family. In the end we made the decision to put him to sleep after he failed to recover completely from a fit. You'd think it shouldn't be too much of a shock to lose your 17 year old dog with dodgy eyes, ears, legs, and kidneys, but that's not how it feels.
I apologise for this self-indulgent and sycophantic eulogy. Moreover it's also hypocritical because I get annoyed when people to tell me to take extra care with their pet because it's "Special". They're all equally special, and we try to treat them all the same.
Now freed from the restriction of his arthritic limbs and failed kidneys, Spot's gone across the "Rainbow Bridge".
So go and continue your friendship with Ginger, and don't be too mean to Mummy Cat!
Thanks for the memories.
At Home Veterinary Service Ltd
St.Mary's Veterinary Surgery
5 St.Mary's Way
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