tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS

Date:   08 December, 2009  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pig & rabbits.

Toa Payoh Vets Clinical Research
Making veterinary surgery alive
to a veterinary student studying in Australia
using real case studies and pictures

Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: Dec 7, 2009.


I have recently encountered 3 cases which seemed to be on separate topics when I recorded them in a draft form. Now, after reading them, I note that they are linked by the theme of "Sexual Performance". Do you agree with me?

STORY NO. 1. The non-performer male Cocker Spaniel.
Two Cocker Spaniels with no dog licences. "The AVA officials went to the house to  check, saying somebody had complaints about his dogs."  No dog licences. $200 per dog compounded fine. 2 Cocker Spaniels will be $400. Owner can appeal. If not, go to court. Maximum fine is $5,000 per dog without licence.
"Appeals are always offered in such cases. But you must have good reason," I said. "Otherwise, you will get a reply saying sorry. Can your daughter write a good letter?" I asked. The young girl who was quiet was studying Literature in the National University of Singapore.

"It is quite rare to meet a Literature undergraduate," I said to her. "Most Singapore secondary schools have dropped the "Literature" subject for "O" levels. The School Principals have to perform to get promoted. Literature is a hard subject for most students to pass. So Principals discard literature to achieve more top A grades. We will produce a generation with not much love for the craft of writing." I asked whether her course includes journalism. "I don't study journalism in the course," this young girl informed me. "Journalism is mass communication."
To apply for a dog licence, goto Scan microchip form from vet. Pay $14.00 for a sterilised dog. $70 for non=sterilised. This Cocker Spaniel was
9 years old. A male 18 kg. He never produced puppies from the other female who was also overweight. "The female just sat down when he tried. Then he gave up too." I advised, "You ought to slim down the male in the early years to give him a better chance of success."

Now the female of another client was on heat. She was 3 years old, weighing 8 kg. My client had yesterday asked me if I had access to male Cocker Spaniels. Some professional dog breeder would have it. But as the HDB in which 80% of Singaporeans have this strange rule of prohibition of Cocker Spaniel in HDB apartments, there is not much production of Cocker Spaniels from the professional breeder.

So, I introduced both of them to each other as I don't have other male cockers for the client with female on heat. One professional dog breeder proposed Cavalier King Charles male stud. But my client was not too keen to produce crosses. He wanted purebred Cocker Spaniels but this 9 year-old introduction. Could he perform?  In home breeding, bring female to male. Slimming down the male would have given better chances. Help the male in mating. Artificial insemination.

STORY NO. 2 - The Cougar.
Flower supplier in the wet market. "I have no money," she said as she brought in her Jack Russell for her annual vaccination.

65 years old. Trim and slim as in those slimming advertisement of famous celebrities and stars, but no photo-shopped changes unlike the advertisements. A sprightly woman who looked after her body well. Jack Russell is the constant companion. "How you get the flower supplier to sell you flowers?" I asked. Supplier started dumping poor quality flowers. She switched to other supplier but the others don't have the varieties. No supplier provide such varieties of flowers. Nice to the seller's delivery person so that the girl gave her good quality flowers.

"I was spayed," she said. "If I had died during anaesthesia, my husband would have benefited." In Singapore, buying a HDB apartment requires a family unit. In this case, she had the money but needed a husband to be eligible. So, she found one but he was older. He would do. But she definitely does not tolerate his infidelity.

I was surprised to hear the word "spay" applied for women. Faithfulness of husband who is into gambling, wine, woman and song was now in doubt. "He likes to peep and see women the "node" from behind the door. "What do you mean?" I could not understand.

"Likes to see women in the node," she reiterated. Ah, I get it finally. She meant "nude." If you pronounce "rude" as "rude" correctly, then "nude" ought to be pronounced as "node". English is a difficult language to master. I asked, "Why would a man do that with a mistress?" She said, "He can't do it." No need for explanation. Maybe Viagra was not invented then.

A husband with no income and who is a philander. Depends on wife for his daily bread. So, she took action, "I wanted him to take his name out of HDB list or get out." I asked, "Why would your husband oblige you?" I asked. "I gave him money after he took his name out." She kept her promise and he moved out. He died soon.

Is she a cougar? So what? "I have a younger man as my boyfriend. More energetic and cares for me"

A young man indeed. I was happy for this dynamic woman. Many women of her age have put on weight. She made me feel overweight too. Her personality shone through. This man was in his late forties came to pick her and her dog up in a truck. I went out of the surgery and I waved to him.
How much does this flower seller make after expenses? "$500 is my best net income," she said. "$500 per day?" I asked. "No, $500 per month". High rentals of a market stall eat up a lot of income.

"Know the trend," she said to me when I asked how she was still around despite the fact that she had difficulty getting good suppliers. "Learn how to be creative," she said. "I know how to string the flowers in a design that pleases the customers. I have a big clientele base. Some refer friends and some order on behalf of friends. So, how can I retire?" I know of Singaporeans who retire to smell the roses. Or are forced to retire at the age of 62 as what has happened to my banker.

I learnt something from a humble flower seller that day. What I learnt is that I must be aware of the trend in Singapore's small animal practice. More practices are set up by younger vets who are more in tune with the younger generation. They have more energy. More hungry and cheaper. I can't compete on price war and volume. Long hours burn out the vet as they are very stressful. The vet must have a clear mind to perform too as diagnosis is not so simple. Long hours just cloud the mind. This would be suicidal in the long term, for the vet and for the pets. So, what to do? Be creative like the flower seller. How to do it? That's the $64-million-dollar question. Basically, read widely, associate with other industry to learn their best practices, network and know what you are doing and do it well like the flower seller who created flower arrangement so well that customers flock to her.    

P.S. "Cougar" is a term used to refer to an older woman befriending a younger man. 

The commando dwarf hamster.
An undergraduate male brought 2 hamsters to me on 15.11.09.
1. 4 overgrown incisor teeth diverging 45 degrees on both. This dwarf hamster, Female was just 2 months old. I clipped the teeth short. "The teeth grows normally now," the young adult said to me when he came to pick up the 2nd case.

2. 2nd case. F, 1 year. Roboroskvi. 3rd litter 3 weeks ago. "The male escaped like a  commando by climbing up the roof and getting down into the lower floor of the cage," the young man explained how he got the 3rd litter out of this Roboroskvi with thick matted hairs all over her body. One breast was swollen with yellow pus. I attributed the matted hairs to the male biting her during sexual performance or rejection. On . Dec 2, 09 this female could go home with only a scab on her forehead. This scab would drop off. She had been warded for 17 days and it would cost the owner some $105 which is a large sum if you are calculating. Dwarf hamsters can be had for free. The young man took the trouble to e-mail camera pictures of the babies. Poor resolution but he took the trouble. He really loves his hamsters. He was pleased that the female had recovered.

Daily cleaning with warm water to soften the matted hair and scabs. Antibiotics oral. "Be careful," I said to my assistant Mr Saw as he placed the hamster for me to take photograph on the 17th day before she goes home. "This Roboroskvi hamster can shoot off the table in the wink of an eye." This species runs faster than a Ferrari sports car from start to 100 km. Hard to believe?

Back to the owner. To prevent mating, he housed the male on the lower floor of the 2-level cage. "So that he can't climb up the plastic walls to breed her." the young man said. 

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