Well hello from your friendly local veterinarian! I’ve just finished my first week of real work, and so far it seems as if it will be a pretty good job. I am the one military veterinarian responsible for Sigonella Naval Air Station and another small naval base at Souda Bay, Crete, in Greece. Until about six months ago, both of these bases were in the process of shrinking in size and mission. When the rest of the world decided to get involved in the revolution in Libya, however, it remembered the strategic importance of these locations in the Mediterranean. Now they are both filled to the bursting with military personnel from all over the world, and plans are underway to build them back up more permanently. All that said, it looks like my job will definitely be here for the next three years.
I have four soldiers working with me: two veterinary technicians and two food inspectors. Together, we’re the only Army personnel on the base. Our mission is pretty typical for us as Army veterinary services: we provide full service medical and surgical care to the military working dogs (MWDs) and pets of those stationed here with us; we ensure the safety of all the (human) food and beverages sold and consumed on the bases; and we provide support to public health programs involving animal health and food safety.
As you can see from the photos, the clinic is in a beautiful building, with Mt. Etna looming in the distance and visible out my office window. The whole clinic was built and newly equipped about six years ago, so it is still in great shape and just the right size to handle our mission. Along with my military help, I also have a civilian vet tech, a receptionist, an Italian secretary/translator, and an Italian vet working for me.
This week I had two days of pet clinics and one day with the military working dogs. The pets were mostly dogs, of all shapes and sizes, and most were here simply to get vaccines updated or health certificates for flying back to the U.S. There were also the standard ear infections, vomiting and diarrhea, itchy skin, and a few lumps and bumps. It’s been fun getting back into the sleuthing and investigating required to make an accurate diagnosis, and I’ve enjoyed working together with my techs as we take turns looking at slides under the microscope, discussing the fine details of doggie diets and excrement, and holding down crazy cats and yapping toy dogs.
Two MWDs came in on Thursday. Bach is a big German Shepherd, and has a reputation as the meanest dog in the kennel. He broke a toe during a training exercise a couple months ago, and we wanted to see if it was completely healed up yet. We had to heavily sedate him in order to take the radiographs; even with a muzzle on he is difficult to control or be safe around in his alert state. Fortunately the radiographs showed that the main fracture is almost fully healed. Unfortunately, a small bone ship is still present in the tissue beside the fracture location, so I’m hoping that doesn’t cause him continued pain. We’ll give him a few more weeks of kennel rest and then do another recheck before clearing him to work.
Nathan is the only long-haired German Shepherd in the kennel, and he was back for a follow up on some skin irritation I had seen him for the week before. It was mostly cleared up after a week of shampoos and a clip of his long thick hair, so I’m thinking is was probably related to the heat.
And that was my first week, along with lots of e-mailing and paperwork, of course. Now back to Becca’s more fun adventures…