Stuck in a tree…

Fire brigade saves bird in tree

Sometimes you get to see stuff that you would never imagine possible, and today I turned up to the surgery clinic to find the entire staff waiting outside. Now it was a beautiful sunny day, however this did not explain the two falconry club members sitting with them with only a single bird but two gloves.

Asking what was going on, the doctor pointed at the tree where in a branch 20ft or so from the ground was a shape moving. Now I’d just set my contact lenses to my eyes so my vision wasn’t great as they had yet to settle however being a tree I assumed it was a cat that had escaped being a vet school and all. This led to great laughter when I was informed none too kindly that it was in fact a bird.

A bird stuck in a tree?

My first question was why it couldn’t just fly down as it obviously flew up there…

And then the fire brigade arrived with flashing blue lights and an aerial platform. My day was made totally and completely. The fire service – “Hasici” in Slovak – had arrived to save a bird from a tree. I really couldn’t make it up if I tried.

So with some quick manoeuvring of the platform to the ground to allow one of the students on (tied into a harness) they raised the platform to the tree to save the bird and in a blink it was all over with the bird safely on the ground the fire brigade left.

Vet student rescues bird from tree with Slovak fire brigade

Apparently there are special jesses (strings for the legs of falcons) that should be used when flying them that had been neglected. Because of this the normal jesses had got tangled into the branch of the tree and so the bird needed to be rescued. So as I learnt something about falconry I guess this counts as part of my veterinary education.

The Slovak fire service were awesome with how fast they responded, how happy they were to help and how much more interesting they made my day.

Moral of the story though, is that flight jesses exist for a reason.

400 days to graduation…

Chris in Slovak Paradise

What feels like forever ago when I first started my diary I was counting up each day another day on my journey to becoming a vet. Now however I am counting down – that is either scary that I will be released onto poor unsuspecting animals, or amazing that I will finally be able to put my hard won skills to good use to make a difference.

I’ve come a long way since I’ve started not just in my knowledge but as a person. I never understood what I was letting myself in for when I got on the plane to come here – back when I started it was only accessible by Budapest and then a road transfer. I realised in Budapest that there were languages other than English – and that not everyone spoke English when trying to find my transfer company. It then got better when I was shouted at in the supermarket when I tried to buy ham – seems that I don’t understand here is mistaken for I cannot hear…

However I love Slovakia – and whilst I have just 400 days left here I am reflecting on what a great country it is. I’ve met some of the nicest people I’ve ever known, and seen some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The culture is amazing – I’ve never been anywhere where I can just walk down main street to find something going on – whether that is drums and folk dancing – or the Christmas market with hot wine in the snow. I’ve been up mountains in the snow – and at times thought I was going die – and then in summer laid by the outdoor swimming pools.

I’ve had opportunities here that I would never have got anywhere else. From anaesthetising a tiger, to working with dolphins, to chasing bulls around hills with a blowpipe. It is not always smooth, and its often crazy organisation – however that is just medicine – it depends on a lot of things and plans often go out the window. I’ve learnt loads, done loads, and seen even more.

So yes I am excited that I only have 400 days left, however I am sad that I only have 400 days left in this beautiful country. Each and every day I will learn a little bit more, both I hope in veterinary and as a person…

The end of the semester…

End of semester

Today is the end of the semester, it is scary how fast it has come, and more scary that in a little over a month I will start my state exams.

As off today my education from university in exotic pets, poultry, wildlife, and zoo animals is complete. I know everything I need to know to treat these animals, and on the 13th June I will be tested by a panel to confirm that I can do this. This is scary. I feel I have barely scratched the surface, when it comes to exotics I am lucky to have a lot of extra education through my work with education rabbit owners on proper care.

For zoo animals, I have been extremely fortunate to learn from some of the best zoo vets in the world, gained valuable knowledge and experience that I will treasure. I’ve worked with dolphins, tigers, orangutans, camels, sea lions, seals, penguins, coyotes and birds. Being allowed into a world that few ever see I am more confident on this part of the state exam than any other.

Then there is poultry, I dread this part of the exam. Personally I believe that whilst we need meat, just by spending a few extra pennies we can improve the conditions that these chickens are raised in. Unfortunately poultry medicine is focused on the population. With each bird worth just over a euro there is no money for treating individuals. These animals are here for the single purpose of feeding humans. My education here allows me to optimise the conditions for this to happen, for me to determine the best way to get the highest production. Is this an education I really want? No, however it has to be done. I just dread the day when this becomes an even more intensive process.

It is no longer random subjects which faintly tie into medicine, now it is a case of actual medicine – where what I know, or don’t know will affect patients. These state exams are the ones that count, and I really hope that I don’t mess up.

Tonight finished with a BBQ up on the hills looking over the city that I am proud to call home for at least one more year…