Cure It or Shoot It: A naive young vet's induction into country life

Cure It or Shoot It: A naive young vet's induction into country life


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As a naïve young vet, Doug Fenwick had to adjust to family life in a small Victorian country town. He learned that there is an economic limit on the cost of treating animals, commercial and family pets alike. You can’t always save an animal’s life at all costs.

He and his wife of six months, Margaret, arrived in a small country town in July 1955, with all of their worldly possessions in the back of a 1948 Ford Prefect utility vehicle.

Life was hard in the dairy farming district in the 1950s. There were no motels, so like all the travelling salesmen and tourists, they stayed in the local hotel for the first two weeks and got to know the proprietors and paying guests as well as the regular local patrons.

They then moved into a factory house and were readily greeted by all of the neighbours.

In those days a single frame of a camera could capture the extent of the factory frontage. Twenty-five years later it would take two frames.

Farms, farmers and farming changed significantly over that time as well. A farmer that could once make a living by milking 12 cows by hand each day had to milk at least 50 with milking machines by the time he left the district.

Animal diseases changed as treatments for them advanced.

If you are a budding veterinary student, his experiences may provide you with insight into some of the work you could be doing. The job was frequently hard, frequently dirty, often difficult and often dangerous. It was a tough and challenging experience in every way.

You can read of the surgical challenges he had to face when a cow came up to be milked with a six feet long piece of timber impaled through her chest and abdomen, or when a cow was presented with two large perforated stomach ulcers causing peritonitis, or the hopelessness when horses had ‘twisted bowel’ colics. There are descriptions of all of the types of cancer found in animals as well descriptions of the many and varied types of calving difficulties encountered and the methods that that had to be taken to correct them. The story is full of interesting veterinary encounters.

It describes an era when cars improved, corrugated gravel roads became bitumen, speed limits appeared and blood alcohol limits were introduced for drivers. Country stores gave way to supermarkets, cinemas and drive-in theatres gave way to home television sets.

Life changed for many over this period, including himself. Sweat and tears of hard labour, the births of three children, and years later, the death of his wife weaved their way into the fabric of the Allansford chapter of his life.

Cure It or Shoot It is a true story. All the incidents and events actually happened. The story may give you a different perspective on life or it may bring back forgotten memories.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780648294009
Publication date: 03/07/2018
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x 0.57(d)

Table of Contents



CHAPTER 1: Early Farms and Farmers

CHAPTER 2: I Become My Own Boss: Early Veterinary Knowledge and Practice

CHAPTER 3: I Discovered That I Had Opted Into a Milk Fever Practice

CHAPTER 4: Communications

CHAPTER 5: Unusual Cases and Unique Cures

CHAPTER 6: Not So Successful Cases

CHAPTER 7: Life Before TV

CHAPTER 8: Other Recreation


CHAPTER 10: Great Place to Be: No Shortage of Action

CHAPTER 11: Where the District’s People Came From

CHAPTER 12: Billy Ryan

CHAPTER 13: Some Creatures Not So Small

CHAPTER 14: Cows in Trouble Calving

CHAPTER 15: Doctors, Having Kids, and That Sort of Thing

CHAPTER 16: Right Treatment, Wrong Reason

CHAPTER 17: Farmers as Animal Behaviourists

CHAPTER 18: People Are Only Human

CHAPTER 19: Farmers Can Do Anything

CHAPTER 20: Changes in Vaccinations over the Years

CHAPTER 21: Diseases That Have Gone and Come over the Decades

CHAPTER 22: Night Calls

CHAPTER 23: Cancers in Animals

CHAPTER 24: Cases that Turned Up in Clusters

CHAPTER 25: The Range of Cases We Attended

CHAPTER 26: My Last Years at Allansford




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