Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Online creative writing workshop for veterinarians, nurses, technicians and veterinary team members in March


Delegates at the Mental Wellbeing for Veterinary Teams symposium in 2019.

What has creative writing got to do with veterinary teams? Creative writing can be a vehicle for self expression. It can be a pleasure indulged in privately, or an opportunity to paint word pictures for an audience. It can be a therapeutic brain-dump or a chance to experience flow.

As readers of this blog may be aware, I was one of four co-editors of the Vet Cookbook, an initiative to promote mental wellbeing in vets, nurses, technicians, kennel hands, groomers, practice managers, laboratory scientists, teachers, technical services vets – i.e. anyone who has anything to do with veterinary teams.

The Vet Cookbook generated some proceeds, most of which we used to subsidise the Mental Wellbeing for Veterinary Teams conference in 2019 (remember then? Back before COVID-19?). For those of you who missed it, videos of the talks given on that day are now available on the Centre for Veterinary Education’s Mental WellbeingHub

There are many things we can do to improve mental wellbeing, including promote engagement and flow. To this end, we’ve been working with some wonderful writers who have agreed to run writing workshops for veterinary team members.

The workshops are offered via Zoom, so totally COVID-safe (unless you happen to be Zooming from a nightclub, but then, what is a nightclub again?).

The first is a two-part workshop run by Tracy Sorensen, award winning author of The LuckyGalah (long-listed for the Miles Franklin Award) and Charles Perkins Centre Writer in Residence. The workshops will be held across two weekday evenings in March.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tracy Sorensen after she gave a webinar on her upcoming book - a cancer biography told from the perspective of her organs. I read The Lucky Galah which was one of the most unexpectedly joyful books about luck and life. I was fortunate enough to attend a brilliant writing workshop she ran at the University of Sydney. 

Tracy oozes creativity and warmth, and has a fascination for animals and an appreciation of the people who work with them. If you have not yet read The Lucky Galah, I recommend it. Set in a remote coastal town in Western Australia in the late 1960s, the time of the Moon landing, it is the tale of two Australian families, told from the perspective of the Galah that lives in a cage between the back of the house and the outside dunny. This book was so evocative...I felt like I was in WA, experiencing the sights and smells. 

(c) Tracy Sorensen 2021
Tracy Sorensen.

Places at this writing workshop are limited. If you would like more information, wish to register or know a friend who might be keen, please follow this link.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Planning for people and pets during crises, making pet adoption equitable, and more citizen science for pet owners

Dr Sonja Olson baked the banana chocolate chip muffins from the Vet Cookbook to fuel her morning run. Loving the oven mitt!

This week, I want to share a few resources which may be of interest.

You may not be aware, but one of the negative aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been an increase in reports of domestic and family violence. Lucy’s Project, founded by the tireless Anna Ludvik, is hosting a webinar about the Concurrent Crises we are facing on August 17 at 1pm.
The webinar will explore how we can plan for animals during bushfires, droughts, pandemic(s) and other crises, as well as safety planning for families with animals who are experiencing DFV. The webinar is available free of charge but participants are welcome to make a donation. Click here for more info.

This webinar is part one of a three-part series.

CARE – Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity – is a US-based organisation established to address organisational and personal biases within animal welfare and advocating for a more inclusive path to pet adoption. The website contains some harrowing but ultimately uplifting stories of companion animals being adopted by those who initially faced discrimination or inequity. Check them out here.

Our colleague, Wingham and Valley Vets veterinarian, Dr John Dooley, retired earlier this year. He contributed an incredible personal essay to The Vet Cookbook, as well as some brilliant tips for new graduates in the CVE’s Recent Graduate Survival Seminar. He has been an advocate of mindfulness and meditation, as well as mentoring, in the veterinary profession. In an era where the attrition rate of veterinarians is high, and where there are shortages of veterinary professionals, its great to read about a 45-year-long career in this comprehensive article in Dr Dooley’s local paper which you can read here.

Finally, whether you work in the veterinary profession or not, if you identify as a pet owner, parent or guardian your knowledge can help citizen science. The study is exploring the risks and benefits of pet ownership during a pandemic.

To participate, click here.  

You can also opt-in to the very first longitudinal study tracking pet owner wellbeing and animal welfare.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Some citizen science for veterinary team members

Equine veterinarian, equine, horse, horse dvm
Drawn by Sally Pope, SP Editing.

Are you a veterinarian, veterinary nurse or animal health technician anywhere in the world? I am surveying veterinary team members about ethical challenges they have encountered since the advent of Covid-19, and the survey closes today.

It takes 10-15 minutes, and is completely anonymous.
To contribute, please copy and paste this link into your browser window:

zoo vet, tiger anaesthetic, vet nurse, vet tech
Drawn by Sally Pope, SP Editing.

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


This is a somewhat Sydney-centric post, but it is a beautiful idea shared by a friend. It encourages artists, it supports bushfire recovery, and it celebrates dogs. So I am posting it here.

Paint and help us make history! Enter the first ever Blackheath village dog art competition in Springtime 2020

Do you have a dog? Enjoy painting? Then be part of a history-making event and enter a painting of your dog, or someone else’s dog in the inaugural
Blackheath PAINTADOG competition.

The competition is open to everyone across New South Wales and will be judged in two categories: Children up to 15 years and adults.

Submissions can be drawn or painted, and must be mounted, but unframed. Initially copies of works must be submitted through our website with your entry form. As our space is limited we can only accept the first one hundred works from each category.

Entry to the exhibition is free and opens 11 am on Saturday October 3rd  2020.  Judging will be by a well-known local artist

A non refundable entry fee to the competition, adults $20 children $5. All profits from Paintadog will be donated to The Blackheath Rhododendrum Park, which was badly affected by the 2019-2020 bush fires.

Entries will open Monday 24th August 2020 and close on Friday 24th September 2020 Please fill out the entry form on our website and scan with your painting.

Prizes: $750 for the adult winner, $250 for The People's Choice, four $100  for the children's category. Information about other prizes from local businesses and councils, will be available closer to the date on our website.
There will be a dog parade, weather permitting.

We recommend you book your accommodation early, to avoid disappointment. There are many pet friendly Airbnb's, Stayz etc.. in and around Blackheath. A list of these will be posted on our website: closer to the time.
With thanks to The Blue Mountains Bush Fire Recovery Program
The RSL Blackheath
The RFS Blackheath
Jenny ward Communications Director
Henry Collins
More sponsors will be .published closer to the date

Friday, June 19, 2020

Citizen science opportunity: do you live with diabetic cat?

Do you live with a diabetic cat? Do you test your cat’s blood glucose levels at home?

If so, please share your experiences by completing this quick 10-minute questionnaire.

This questionnaire is part of a research project within Massey University's school of Veterinary Science.

The aim of the questionnaire is to provide information about the difficulties and benefits of home blood glucose monitoring.

This information can then be used to guide education and hopefully improve the welfare of diabetic cats. 

Your participation in this questionnaire is completely voluntary and you will remain anonymous.

Copy and paste the URL below into your internet browser:

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Free international congress for veterinarians, veterinary nurses and animal health technicians working with cats

One silver lining to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic is the accessibility of high-quality continuing education for veterinarians, animal health technicians and veterinary nurses. While face to face events have been shelved, which is disappointing, the environment also wins with the reduction in international airline traffic (for the time being). And CPD is more affordable when we need it to be.

The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) is hosting the world’s first free virtual feline congress for those of us who provide health care to feline patients. This means that you will be able to watch over 30 hours of CPD from your home – or your practice, or your car – even, finally, in the company of your cat (or dog, or horse).

The Congress will run from Saturday August 8-11, with content remaining available on demand until September 11 (for those of us in different time zones or attending to the real-time needs of our feline patients on weekends).

I’m excited to have been invited as one of the speakers.

Thanks to generous sponsorship the Congress is free to ISFM members and non-members. It is a very good opportunity to attend an international meeting of veterinary professionals from around the globe who share a commitment to improving cat care.

For the conference program and information on how to register, visit

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Citizen science in lockdown

You can contribute to the growing evidence base around animal welfare, ethics and One Health by participating in some citizen science.

Its been a very big week in Vetland. As a veterinarian and a lecturer, much of the week has been spent debriefing over this week’s episode of SBS Insight, on veterinary care

I don’t know anyone who didn’t find it challenging viewing, for a plethora of reasons. The panelists and speakers were all very brave and generous for sharing their painful stories. The challenge with television is trying to cover a complex, nuanced, multi-factorial issue in the space of an hour. It felt like an exploratory surgery – a wound was created, opened and explored, but there wasn’t time to develop a therapeutic plan before it was closed.

Watching it certainly triggered some painful memories for me. If you have not seen it yet but plan to, I recommend viewing it with a friend (human or otherwise), and having a bit of time to do something renewing afterwards.

Meanwhile there are a plethora of opportunities to contribute to some meaningful citizen science. As anyone running an online survey is all too aware, the incidence of survey fatigue is growing. But its worth keeping in mind that responses contribute to the growing evidence base around animal health and welfare and the role of veterinary professionals.

So, if you find yourself with a bit of free time, grab a cup of tea and consider doing one or more of the following surveys (I’ve pasted the invitations below).

For veterinarians

The global role of the veterinary sector in COVID-19 pandemic responses 

Recent press reports indicate that veterinarians and others working in animal health have been assisting with responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The purpose of this short questionnaire is to document the role of the veterinary sector in COVID-19 responses worldwide. This information will be used to explore the roles and relationships that have been formed during this outbreak, to identify ways to sustain these relationships and build new ones, and to deal with future human, animal or One Health crises.  

Please take a few minutes (less than 10) to fill in the questionnaire and contribute to building stronger and more diverse relationships between people working in human and animal health. You can access the questionnaire using this link. The questionnaire is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Korean. It will soon be available in Mandarin. 
This project is a collaboration between the Veterinary Public Health Institute (VPHI) of the University of Bern (Switzerland), the European Network for EcoHealth and One Health (NEOH), the City University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong SAR) and the University of Ilorin (Nigeria). 

This is an anonymous questionnaire. By submitting your answers you consent to the use of this data for scientific purposes. You can contact us via: luis.gomesdocarmo[at]  

Ethically challenging situations for veterinarians, veterinary nurses and animal health technicians due to the Covid-19 pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has raised additional and perhaps unforeseen ethically challenging situations (ECS) for those working in veterinary clinical settings. As part of my PhD study, I am conducting a survey to determine the frequency, stressfulness and nature of these ethical challenges.
The survey is open to veterinarians, animal health technicians and veterinary nurses around the world who are over the age of 18. It will take 15-20 minutes to complete.
To read the participant information statement and complete the survey, please copy and paste this link into your browser:

This is an anonymous survey. You are welcome to share the link with colleagues.
For further information about this study, contact Anne Fawcett: anne.fawcett[at]

For dog owners

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major changes to people’s lives across the globe. We do not know for sure how this stressful time might be impacting the welfare of pet dogs or what carryover effects it might have when dogs suddenly find themselves home alone down the road. While we obviously hope we will not experience anything similar again, this does give us a unique opportunity to examine the effects of major changes to routine on our canine companions. The Humane Rescue Alliance and the University of Lincoln, UK, are partnering together to understand how dogs are coping and continue to cope after the pandemic, and we invite you to participate via this link.

For residents of the UK or Australia 

Does animal quantity of life matter?

Help researchers at the University of Edinburgh better understand our attitudes towards animals and their quantity of life by participating in a short anonymous online survey.

To participate or for further details, copy and paste this link into your browser: