In a fortnight I will have the privilege of addressing one of the local U3A groups.
I regularly attend events like this, but I am always a little nervous.
Last term I was asked to give a careers presentation at Warden Park School, and felt pretty confident about meeting with six or eight young folk keen to hear more about careers with animals.
So I was amazed when they confirmed shortly beforehand that they were expecting over sixty pupils to attend. I had to upgrade my ideas, from an intimate little chat in a small classroom to a massive hall with rows of seats.
I put together a PowerPoint presentation with lots of pictures of my lovely patients and staff, and researched as many different careers with animals as I could find. I looked up the most recent information about what qualifications are required, and how to work towards careers not just in veterinary medicine or nursing, but also in zoo-keeping, police-dog handling, dog grooming and many more.
Despite my nerves, I really enjoy the opportunity to go out from the clinic and talk to interested groups and children. One of my favourite visits is to local nursery and pre-prep schools. The little people in the audience generally adore animals, and answering questions from me about their own pets.
I encourage them to think about the responsibilities of pet ownership, including providing water, food, warmth, exercise, companionship and care when they are ill in a manner that is hopefully inclusive and enjoyable for even very little people. My visits are an even greater hit when the school gives permission for Jazzy, my gentle Labrador to come too.
Last year a local scout group requested a reminder about first aid and the acronym DRSABC which all the scouts had learnt for first aid on people. There must have been a hundred kids of all ages in the hall. Most had forgotten their DRSABC, but were super intent on the prospect of getting a snuggle from Jazzy!
If your group or school would like me to visit and give a presentation, I don’t charge. It’s something I enjoy doing for the benefit of all the pets. So feel free to email and set a date on firstname.lastname@example.org.