Tales from the Tail End: Adventures of a Vet in Practice
James Herriot meets Bridget Jones in this honest, no-holds-barred account of the ups and downs of a vet's life
Misty was ecstatic to see her owner but to the nurse's surprise her owner just stood there and said, "What have you done with my dog’s head?" "I’m sorry," replied the nurse, "what do you mean? She’s just been in for spaying." "That isn’t my dog’s head. The rest of it is my dog but you’ve put a different head on it."
On a crisp October morning in 1996, Emma Milne started her first job as a newly qualified vet, and now she tells the full story. We discover the numerous things that can get stuck in an animal's stomach, how to stop a cow exploding, and—the biggest truth of all—that animals are easy to deal with in comparison to their owners. They say that truth is stranger than fiction, and these tales turn out to be stranger—and funnier—than you could ever have imagined.
decided to come down and wait for me to get back rather than bother me by leaving a message. It was an incredible experience, one which gave the Beeb a bumper crop of stories and left me with some very powerful memories. On the subject of the Beeb, it soon became clear that the film crew was there for the fly-on-the-wall aspect of my life and wanted at all costs to avoid being what they would describe as 'self-referential'. In other words, this meant that they would not lift a finger to help
working on Exmoor. Coming, as I do, from a pacifist upbringing by 'hippy' parents in the Medway Towns in Kent, the abundance of guns in the area in which I worked was a bit of a shock to me, and the shooting of the dogs made a huge impact. When I was seeing practice I'd had my first encounter with firearms and they are incredibly scary things. I'd seen a vet shoot a cow and, as naive as it might sound, the noise and the violent suddenness of the death were absolutely startling. I use the words
'violent' and 'startling' but in fact shooting, when done the right way, is a very humane way indeed of killing an animal. Everyone has their own views on gun laws and whether guns kill people or people kill people, but I firmly believe that people certainly wouldn't kill as many other people if they didn't have guns to hand! Firearms are surely accidents waiting to happen. We had a wonderfully eccentric client in Exmoor called Roger, who roped his cattle like a cowboy and was a fantastic
creature could get through the tiny holes in the kennel door but it was obviously a lot more fur than flesh because he had undeniably escaped. How ironic that we had given the squirrel just enough energy and sustenance to make a terrific and heroic bid for freedom, while at the same time giving the ferret just enough oomph to fully relish what turned out to be his ceremonial last meal and deliver a lethal bite to his unwitting visitor. It wasn't a happy decision when the squirrel had had to plump
the fact that he was gorgeous! We headed to a lecture and then decided to go for a drink with Chris. As we stepped out of the gloom into the bright North Carolina sunshine, Mark reached into his bag and put on a pair of surf-style sunglasses. Hmm, I thought, a definite sign that he might not be as vetty as he had at first appeared. The three of us spent the afternoon together and arranged to go out for dinner later that night. Turning up to meet me that evening in fairly scruffy jeans and a