National treasure: Country vet

Victoria Roberts BVSc MRCVS, from Ilkley, West Yorkshire

‘Having grown up in Suffolk, falling off endless ponies, enjoying hunting in that lovely county and learning to fish and shoot there too, I moved to Worcestershire to run a pure breed poultry enterprise. At last realising that it may be possible to return to school and fulfil a long cherished ambition, I set off (the wrong side of 40!) to become a veterinary surgeon.

‘I soon got tired of being on my knees in the dark in the muck and changed from treating any animal to purely small animals. As soon as I got to Liverpool Vet School I began teaching poultry and am now in my 10th year of avian and small furry teaching there, but most of what I see in practice is dogs, cats, rabbits and poultry. I don’t have my own practice, but locum in order to have the flexibility to do other things.

‘Rabbits have very strong characters and need to be taught good behaviour, just like dogs. If taught and fed properly they make interesting pets, living cleanly in the house and giving lots of affection and entertainment.

‘Being able to mend an animal by surgery is my biggest reward. I prefer soft tissue surgery to orthopaedics, so deal for instance with foreign bodies, bladder stones, tumours.

‘Once we had a real panic when a bearded collie was rushed into the surgery in the arms of its owner as it couldn’t bear weight on its front leg. Everyone got mobilised for this emergency, x-ray machine on, theatre prepared etc. and as I began to examine the dog with the owners fearfully looking on, I found that this very hairy dog had its front leg stuck through its overly large chain collar ? we still chuckle about that one!’