Running for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund

For the past 4 years I have run the British 10k in London, supporting the PCRF, the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

In the village where Karen & I live, we lost 2 people, prematurely and unexpectedly, to pancreatic cancer.
Wendy and Ken.
When I run I think of them, I carry them with me.

So this year we’re doing it again.
This coming weekend, on Sunday 15 July. And it’s going to be a scorcher.
Just like last year, my cousin, Marieke, is running with me. This time she brings more support from Holland: her dad, Gerard, who is running his first 10k, and her friend, Willemijn.
So it’ll be four of us running in the red-and-yellow shirt of the PCRF

Last year we raised almost £1,700, a total we should be able to beat this year… with your help. Please support us.
You can donate by clicking this link https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/harrykappen
Alternatively, if you are in the area, you can pop into the Practice and fill out the sponsorship form.

You can read more about the PCRF here: http://www.pcrf.org.uk/

Thank you!

25 Years this week

On Sunday morning, before leaving for Egypt, Karen was watching a video about veterinary compassion fatigue.
Already? I thought.
After only 25 years?
Compassion? Yes.
Fatigue? Sometimes, yes.
Compassion fatigue?
I don’t think so.

When we decided to start our own veterinary practice 25 years ago in 1993 we didn’t plan too much detail. But we did know exactly what kind of veterinary practice we wanted. We didn’t bother with a mission statement, as was the fashion then (and perhaps still is), but we had some key ideas: professionalism, friendliness, care, and compassion. And these concepts were to be applied to our patients, their owners as well as our staff.

We scraped together some money and went ahead. Karen was the solitary vet, we employed Debbie and Le-Anne to work as receptionists and I did the management and planning. Debbie, who has incredible business acumen, had found our site on Cogges Hill Road, and was (still is) a good friend. (She now runs the highly successful ‘Shake Shop’ in Witney – best ice creams and shakes in the area. Debbie is not paying me to say this. No, she’s really not!)
The practice consisted of a front desk, a solitary consulting room, a corridor with some cages and an operating theatre. Upstairs lived some people.

Over time the practice grew considerably, and we built 2 extensions. We also took over the flat upstairs.
And now there are 20 of us.

Throughout these past 25 years we stuck to those initial concepts, that commitment. It permeates throughout the practice, it is taken on board by every member of staff, and it continues to serve us well. Our clients notice this.
When Jessica posted news of our 25th anniversary on our Facebook page a few days ago, the response was overwhelming. It made us proud to be a part of this continuing story.

Oh yes, we all went out for a meal to celebrate, and here are some pictures:

Harry

Laika

This year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where all the latest electronic gadgets are introduced to the world, a new ‘canine companion’ was demonstrated. It doesn’t look like much, really, just a small plastic barrel, but it contains a camera, a microphone, and it can give treats to your pet. It is also chew-proof, talks to your pet and you can either control it using an app, or let it run by itself. It also contains artificial intelligence and gets to know your dog and its habits, then works at keeping her entertained.

It’s a snip at £220, and I’m sure the manufacturers won’t mind if I include a picture and a link for further information:

This link will tell you more:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/laika-an-interactive-companion-for-you-your-dog-dogs-robot#/

So why do I mention this toy? I’m not receiving any commission, I can assure you. I’m not recommending you buy it either. What really drew my attention to the article was the name of the toy: Laïka
I don’t know why there are 2 dots on the i, but maybe it has to do with the original name in Russian: Лайка

I was 9 years old when the Russians shot Laika into space. My heart went with her. Naively, I expected her to land a week later, tail wagging as she ran across some Russian field into the arms of her Cossack owner. But Laika died in space and my heart fell to earth and was crushed.

The facts of her death took a while to emerge – 45 years, to be exact. I won’t go into the unpleasant details, but Laika died within hours of take-off, and she was never expected to survive the journey into space.

This is Laika:

Laika didn’t have an owner to whom she could run, she was a Moscow street dog, and Moscow street dogs are tough, they survive extreme temperatures and withstand hunger. Laika was small, hence lightweight, and she was a calm dog. The ideal candidate.
Lucky Laika.

Should you want to read more details about Laika, wiki has a really good article about her:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laika

In 2008 the Russians unveiled a statue of Laika, finally giving her some recognition and ensuring that her place in the history of space exploration would not be forgotten.

It is believed that Laika was 3 years old when she died.
She’ll always remain my favourite space traveller.

Harry

By the way, if you want to read a lovely account of a meeting between Atlas (carrying Earth) and Laika (circling Earth), read ‘Weight’, by Jeanette Winterson. Highly recommended.

Back from the Caribbean

I am back from the Caribbean, re-adjusting to the cold, while Cabayo, the dog mentioned in the previous post, is still at the clinic in Carriacou. And making great progress.

Talya, his owner, came to visit him one Saturday morning while I was still there and spent some time with her much loved dog. When she left, Cabayo really got quite agitated and tried to climb over the fence in an attempt to follow her. Thankfully he was soon back to his normal, cheerful self and the other dogs seemed to take his mind off his beloved owner.

Cabayo’s degloving injury is healing slowly but surely. The skin on his paw has basically all regrown and we have been able to close the wound more and more every few days.

The biggest problem is the carpal joint, where the joint capsule was damaged during the accident. Joint capsules don’t tend to heal easily, so he will most likely retain a slight limp .The alternative would have been to amputate his leg – so-called “tripods” are not popular in the Caribbean, so on balance, a limp is not a bad result.

Doris

 

Doris returns to the Caribbean

Doris has returned to Carriacou Animal Hospital in Grenada to help out at the veterinary clinic. They have put her straight back to work.


One of her first patients was this gorgeous dog who had been involved in a traffic accident on another island.

Cabayo

The dog, Cabayo, belongs to a school girl who really loves him.  The ferry would not take the injured dog over to the island where Doris was working so the little girl had to get another boat to take him there.

Cabayo had a severe de-gloving injury (basically stripping of the skin) which Doris has cleaned and dressed and the progress in healing is quite amazing as you can see.

Thank you to all who bought tickets in our pre-Christmas raffle so that we could send some funds to the charity. Thank you also to Doris for giving up her time to do such valuable work. We are very proud of you.

Of course it is not all work!! That would make Doris a very dull girl and we wouldn’t want that!

 

The love of dogs

Would you give £5 to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?’
This was an advert placed by a medical research charity. But there were 2 versions.
One of the adverts showed Harrison to be a human, the other showed him to be dog.
Guess which advert got the better response?
Yes.

It made me think of this National Lampoon cover from 1973:
What a fabulous dog! But, even though this is obviously a joke, the photo is really powerful and it does elicit an emotional response.

The above mentioned research, done by Harrison’s Fund, reveals that people are more distressed about reports of pain inflicted on dogs than they are about the same reports about adult human beings. There is however an equal response for puppies, adult dogs and human babies.

I have often suspected that in many cases people care more about their dogs than about their fellow human beings, including (quite often) their spouse.
And it’s far from rare to hear someone say that they love their dog more than anyone else, including (quite often) their spouse…

We have invited dogs into our homes, and subsequently into our families. And perhaps, in many cases, many of us feel genuine love for our dogs.
(Some people even claim to love their cats, but that’s based on the mistake that a voluntary submission to the demands our arrogant feline friends constitutes love.)
It raises the question whether or not our love is reciprocated.
Do our dogs love us?
I don’t think so.

Love is very complicated. Dogs, generally, are not.
How complicated is love?
Well, I think we’ve all attended that amazing wedding where the bride and groom, deeply in love, swear eternal love for one another. Then 5 or 10 years down the line they’re in court fighting a bitter battle, and they cannot stand the sight of each other. Love is complicated, and it can change to hate. Sometimes we get cross with our dogs, irritated, but we don’t get to hate them. And they never, ever hate us. Their relationship with us is uncomplicated. Which is why I would hesitate to call it love.

The research I mentioned above reaches 2 conclusions.
One I have alluded to, namely that we see dogs (and cats, and other pets) as part of the family.
The second conclusion is that the empathy we show towards our dogs has to do with their helplessness. Which is why we respond that way to babies too.
I don’t entirely agree with that – after all, as we keep reminding everyone we know, dogs have teeth. Lots of teeth. Not entirely helpless then. But they don’t understand why someone would point a gun to their head. In most cases they don’t know what a gun can do. And they aren’t scared to die, because they don’t know that they’re going to die. It’s a state blessed ignorance. It is innocence.
Which I believe to be the crux of the matter. Like babies, dogs are innocent. And we protect the innocent, it’s a completely natural reaction. And there’s an innocence to dogs when they play, run, go crazy and even when they stubbornly refuse to do what you want them to do. You want to be cross, but then they look at you, wag their tail, and all is forgiven.

I love our dogs, I really do. And our dogs are good, they are pretty faithful (unless someone else offers them a treat), and they are probably devoted to us. It all adds up to an incredible relationship, even if my love is not properly understood, and hence not reciprocated.

Harry

This article uses some information from ‘Dogs take the lead when it comes to winning human empathy’, printed in the Times on 1 November 2017.

Carpe Diem

One of my favourite quotes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Willow to Buffy: ‘Carpe diem. You told me that once.’
Buffy, a little puzzled: ‘Fish of the day?’
Willow: ‘Not carp. Carpe. It means ‘seize the day.’

I think Buffy is closer, really. What we mean generally is that we should live for the moment, be in the moment. But we can’t. We always worry about or look forward to the future, and we always carry the past with us.

Here’s someone who lives for the moment:

And here, another couple of moments:I love the facts that dogs are so much more capable than we are in seizing the day, living for the moment. And I’m more than a little jealous..

Harry (from Cornwall)