Out in the field there are challenges and pleasures…

It’s a dog’s life

Life is never dull being an Expedition Medical Officer. When I discovered that I would need to be vet as well as doctor I was not quite sure what I was in for. Two days of veterinary training in Hobart did not entirely prepare me for some of the challenges that have been presented to me since my arrival here.

Some of the dogs are currently having a lot of problems with grass seeds. These can get embedded in a variety of places, most commonly in the mouth, where they can cause all sort of interesting swellings and infections. Finding them and getting them out is a challenge.  

Limps are another common dog problem, just as they are in people here. The rough terrain and the nature of the work is as tough on the dogs as the people. X-rays are occasionally needed to investigate the cause. Consultations with a vet back in Australia have been helpful in working out the best ways of dealing with a variety of problems.

Thorough investigation of a sick dog can sometimes require blood tests. The dogs are extremely well-behaved and well-trained, and the handlers do a fantastic job helping. Jane deserves special mention for her help in managing the veterinary side of things. Her assistance has been invaluable.

Last week we ran a vet clinic with five dogs needing a variety of checks and treatments.

Once the clinic was over it was time for the big clean up, to ensure the surgery is back to readiness for any emergency, with every surface and floor scrubbed and cleaned.

Eve Merfield

Island boating

The only form of transport on Macquarie Island, other than walking, is the inflatable rubber boats (IRBs), also known as Zodiacs. The boats are important back up if we ever need to transport an injured person back to station, so getting out and being familiar with the landing sites and conditions is very important. Each boat needs to be crewed by a coxswain and at least one other person trained as a competent crew. The size of our craft means that four passengers is the maximum number that we can transport.

Last week the wind conditions allowed us to transport materials and people out to various field huts, and for a team of 12 to do a circumnavigation of the island. On both days there was quite a bit of sea mist around, but parts of the coast were clear — and the views were enjoyed by all.

This week’s birthdays

Over the year that many of us will have spent on the island, there will have been about 65 birthdays celebrated. The great part of celebrating each and every one is the fantastic cakes that we all get to share. The creativity in devising new recipes, new combinations and great decorating has been amazing.

Sandy and Ben share the same birthday. Before they headed out into the field, we celebrated with a combined cake, and they each received a beautiful hand painted drawing.