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Notice of 2 Saturday closures

March 13th, 2022

I have to give notice of two Saturdays on which the practice will be closed. On Saturday 19th March I will be attending the first day of a two day ultrasound course allowing me to get the best out of our new ultrasound machine.

On Saturday 16th April (Easter Saturday) I hope, COVID allowing, to be in Melbourne visiting one of my sons, and my sister and her family.

I apologise for any inconvenience but, as you will appreciate, for different reasons these are appointments I must keep.

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Because everybody loves free stuff

September 12th, 2021

The vast majority of clients that visit the practice value and appreciate us. In Andrew’s case probably more than he deserves. But there is a tiny minority of the pet owning public that consider all vets to be the enemy.

Please don’t tell them about this post:

Dear Reader,

If you have a puppy please allow me to remind you that, for some time now, we have offered a first heartworm prevention injection to puppies at no charge.

That’s three months heartworm prevention for free. At three months of age.

Thank you. No, really Thank YOU.

PS Should we tell them pups that come to Puppy Preschool get free intestinal wormers too? No, I agree, let’s keep it between ourselves.

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Allergies 2.0

September 12th, 2021

Eight years after my last blog post about allergies, I think it’s time we revisited this important subject. Especially because, in the intervening years, the treatment options we can offer have improved dramatically.

Two products for allergy treatment released on to the veterinary market in the last few years are the mainstays of our allergy management now. They are Cytopoint and Apoquel. Cytopoint is an injection and Apoquel comes in tablet form. Both are registered for dogs only. Apoquel can be used in cats as an off-label medication (which means as an owner you assume the risk for side-effects rather than the manufacturer or, well, me) but Cytopoint cannot.

I would struggle to say which is superior, even after several years of using them. It is true that one of the two may be more appropriate for a particular patient, and for a particular owner so let me expand on that.

Efficacy is the first consideration – does the product work? If Cytopoint works, I think it abolishes the itching and scratching associated with allergies more completely. Since Cytopoint will work for at least 2 weeks in about 99% of dogs, the question then becomes how long does it last? It’s too expensive a product to inject every fortnight. The manufacturer advises the duration of action is likely to be a month, but  a considerable proportion of owners report seven to eight weeks of relief, and they’re very happy with that. If the allergy is seasonal, even better as one or two injections a year may be all that is required.

On the other hand, the effect of Apoquel will last as long as you keep giving the tablets. This means you have to be ABLE to give the tablets. If you can’t you will appreciate the convenience of an injection of Cytopoint. Apoquel is, usually, very effective in suppressing itching. Because of the manufacturer’s pricing policy Apoquel can be much cheaper than Cytopoint for dogs of a particular weight and if your dog is that weight then this may override all other considerations. If you own a cat, Apoquel is the only one of the two you can use.

Side-effects are an important concern too, Cytopoint is a monoclonal antibody. Side effects of any kind are extremely rare. Apoquel has a lower risk of side-effects on the gut (depressed appetite, vomiting or diarrhoea) than the drug it superseded (cyclosporin) and the vast majority of patients tolerate it well, but if it does upset your dog’s tummy you will migrate to Cytopoint.

Whichever you choose, you can be confident that your choice will be much more effective than anti-histamines, and have none of the long term side-effects of prednisolone or other corticosteroids.

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Santa, Keanu, and the art of the dab

December 24th, 2017

I am told that to remain relevant on social media, you must post at least once a week. Considering I haven’t posted for over a year, that makes me a fossil.

But it’s Christmas Eve, I’m enjoying a take-away coffee and excellent steak pie (that breakfast of champions) as I type and it seems like an appropriate time to look back on the year. The take-away coffee is important, but that comes later.

For me, the year has brought changes. Mostly subtle, but one irrevocable in that my mother passed away in March aged 93. That she was able to stay at home until her final weeks is testament to the care she received from all the carers at Southcare and from Jenny,Gloria,Adita and Mirna. Cathy, one of her principal carers, only felt able to retire when my mother and other long-term clients passed away.

Through the year too. we lost three dear friends and clients: Clive, Rusty and Lucy. Every time I think of Clive and Rusty I think of the scene in “My Fair Lady” where Audrey Hepburn takes down Rex Harrison by explaining why his Professor Henry Higgins is not a gentleman and Wifrid Hyde-White’s Colonel Pickering is (this may be getting a bit obscure for readers under fifty who aren’t film buffs but I’m getting to the point).

As she tells him, a gentleman is not a reflection of status in life or an accident of birth, but is determined by how you treat other people. By this measure, as by any other, Clive and Rusty were gentlemen. Lucy’s warmth and generosity of spirit was reflected in the temperament of her cats because, I believe, she poured love into them.

Perhaps because of all the above, this year has made me reflect. And one of my first stops on that journey of reflection was that, at the age of fifty-seven, the present generation of pups and kittens entrusted to my care will be the last I follow all through their lives. After thirty-three and a half years as a vet that brought me up short, because being a vet in general practice, helping my patients (and through them, their people) has been all I’ve ever wanted to do and, as an adult, all I’ve ever known.

Thankfully retirement is still, I hope, at least a decade away so I can leave you with three anecdotes that will, I trust, make you smile.

For the first, we must retrace our steps to the take-away coffee from the cafe where the lovely, highly-skilled, and generally all-round good bloke of a barista told me unprompted (promise) that he and his gorgeous, charming partner referred to me as Keanu Reeves’ Dad. As you may imagine I was pretty chuffed, and the cares of the day receded far away. So far away I was moved to txt my lovely wife and very best mate about it. Denise, with the good sense that is her trademark was, prudently, non committal. Not so my bestie who fired back one of those txts that leap out of the screen to inform the recipient that, for the record, Keanu Reeves himself is now 53!

Recently, in the same week, a really delightful client suggested I should dress up in a Santa suit and have my picture taken at the practice with my patients. After a little while to establish the merits of her argument (well, the beard is snow white now and it would mean I could let it grow from September without risking spousal disapproval) I reckon, for a small fee and with all proceeds to charity, I might be in this next year. Let me know if there is popular demand.

Third and finally, I have to take you to school drop-off for my youngest son, the family comedian and now a teenager (how did that happen). He’s a good sportsman but his summer sport of basketball is not his main one, so as a regular B-teamer guesting for the As on this day I thought he may be a little nervous.”Good luck, mate” I said as he got out of the car. “Dab on the haters!” came the reply.

Well,that cracked me up. After wondering where that came from (not unusual as far as this almost-always good natured young fellow is concerned) it struck me how useful that phrase can be. Firstly, it makes me smile always, every time. But secondly it is very useful for dissolving the frustrations of everyday life. Stuck in a Christmas queue at the shops behind someone who insists on using the slowest means of payment possible including, but not necessarily limited to, multiple different kinds of gift vouchers that have to be entered into the computer system manually; dab away mentally and feel the calm return. It does work. And if you’re not sure what a dab is, follow my boys’ sporting allegiance and search for : “Paul Pogba dabbing” on You Tube. Memo to parents – turn the volume down low and screen first for any bad language on the sound track. But you’ll get the idea.

So,from my family and everyone at Millpoint, we wish you and your loved ones (which includes of course all the furry members of the family) a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and Happy 2018! And may all your haters be dabbed!






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Mrs Shirley Mort – a living legend

September 4th, 2016

I like newspapers. Always have. Especially on a lazy weekend with a nice breakfast and a lovely view. Intelligent writing, whether it confirms my views or challenges them, is lapped up and appreciated.

My darling wife views newspapers with more suspicion, regarding them as a defence and barrier against conversation and the intrusions of family. Never happened in my household, no sirree, not in my lifetime.  Nonetheless she holds that view and it has proved hard to dissuade her.

So last weekend chez Buchanan, a funny thing happened. Opening the weekend West to find the usual diet of atrocity, natural disaster and endemic corruption, I started to shake my head. No,no, said Denise, keep going – you’ll find something you’ll like, really like! So I did and I did.

On page 18 of the West Australian of August 27-28 there was an article about Mrs Shirley Mort, marking her retirement from fundraising for the Salvation Army at the callow age of 92. In the course of the last 26 years Shirley has shaken her collection tin on the footbridge between the city train station and Forrest Chase. In the course of that long and faithful service, she has collected (and are you ready for this because if you didn’t read the paper that day you are going to need to sit down) $1,700,000. No, there is no typo – $1.7 million.Let’s try and put that in perspective. That same weekend a house on Forrest St in South Perth was auctioned and passed in with a highest bid of $1.45 million. That’s a pleasant 3/4 bedroom family home on one of the best streets in one of Perth’s best suburbs. Shirley bought that for the Salvos and then some.

And that’s only half of it. Before she climbed up the stairs to stand on that cold overpass day after day, she would have been up in the early hours making sandwiches and soup that she helped to distribute to the homeless on the Salvos soup run. I think, without any exaggeration, she saved some lives and changed  more.

Back in the noughties I treated Shirley’s dogs, so I can tell you first hand that she is just as pleasant and just as unassuming as you might expect. An ordinary person doing something truly extraordinary. She gave my eldest son a cuddly toy. Struck immediately by a lady, even then in her early eighties, who gave so much of herself to help others; I wrote a piece about her in the practice newsletter. It may have had a loyal readership in single figures, but one of my readers walked passed Shirley on the footbridge one day, exclaimed “Oh, you’re the lady he was writing about!”, opened his wallet and put a $100 note in her tin. I have never been able to trace that gentleman, though I would like to, but I thank you sir. As Giovanni Guareschi, the author of the Don Camillo stories, wrote in far more momentous circumstances “then for a moment I thought that rather than an unimportant fool I might be one of some little importance”.

Of course, the other $1,699,900 had nothing to do with me. I haven’t seen Shirley for almost seven years. During which time she will have raised over $450,000 to help the homeless. I’m not sure I’ve spent that time as productively. But surely, surely, Colin, Malcolm, the governor, governor-general or whoever else reads the blog of a suburban vet – give the lady an Order of Australia, name a park after her, name a new suburb after her but for God’s sake (and I am not blaspheming here) do something and do it soon!

Shirley, if you read this: a very happy retirement from my family and all of us at Millpoint.




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