Hey lovely ladies, let me introduce myself, my name is Alannah, born and bred in the South Somerset countryside. I currently live in a lovely cottage on an organic farm with my fiancé Rob and our working cocker spaniel, Rupert.

My passion for animals and the countryside started at a young age when I started riding and looking after horses. My family have always called me Dr Doolittle because of my love for animals! As I’ve got older my obsession with dogs has evolved into specifically working dogs. I have my fiancé to thank for introducing me to the shooting world, with him working in a gun shop and being a shooting instructor himself, it was pretty inevitable, right?!

Rupert is my first dog, I am very proud that he is not just a pet, but a gun dog. I’m super lucky that he’s such an honest dog because looking back I had limited knowledge, to say the least! I was lucky enough to meet a gundog trainer through my current role as a veterinary nurse when he brought in his beautiful FtCH English springer spaniel for health testing. Once we got chatting the rest is history! 

Unfortunately, as we know 2020’s shooting season wasn’t ideal, to say the least! This year was Rupert’s first proper season picking up with us. There’s no better feeling than when your dog comes back with a questionably far runner! I’ve recently been invited to become a Ladies Working Dog ambassador, which is such a great opportunity that I’m extremely grateful for.

I discovered The Country Girls UK through Instagram, what an amazing place eh? I started following lots of likeminded girls (who I’m sure are reading this!) that are as countryside and dog crazy as myself. I have been lucky enough to meet a few of these girls in person now, who I genuinely class as great friends. Hopefully I will be able to meet more of you with all of these fantastic events CGUK are offering. A few members got together for a Zoom call last weekend, it was so lovely putting faces to names and voices to Instagram accounts. I am also super grateful to have won the CGUK launch competition of a pick-up animal transit system from Animal Transit Boxes LTD, Rupert can’t wait!

My passion for animals has also shaped my choice of career, and I am proud to be a Registered Veterinary Nurse. I’ve met a lot of fellow veterinary nurses through my journey on Instagram, and it’s always nice to meet people who understand the highs and lows of the job. I find that veterinary nursing is still a very misunderstood career, a very common question being – “so when are you going to be a vet?”, with a lot of people not realising that it’s an entirely different career path. Veterinary nurses are the cogs to a well-oiled machine, making the day to day running of practices friendly and efficient. There is no real typical day as a veterinary nurse, as everyday (or night) is different. I regularly treat different species of animals, with very different cases. 

I tend to spend the first hour at work admitting patients for surgical procedures being carried out that day, these are made up by procedures including neutering, dental procedures, lump removals etc. All of our patients then get intravenous catheters and the medication associated with that surgery are worked out and administered prior to their procedures. VNs tend to do all of the anesthetic monitoring throughout procedures and all of the recovery process. We’re the ones tempting them to eat and making sure everything is ready for them to come home to you. My job also consists of consultations and pharmacy work, I really connect with all of the animals I treat and go through all the highs and lows with the owners – it really is a unique role.

If I had to pinpoint the best thing about my job, it would be (quite a cliche saying) of making a difference. There’s no better feeling when you have a patient admitted that’s not eating and very poorly, nursing them back to health and seeing them (and their owners) so happy. One of the negative points about my job (and lots of others in the agriculture/animal/healthcare community will probably agree) is the number of unsociable hours and often missing out on family time/events and quite often in my case shooting/picking up days! 

I currently work in a veterinary hospital in Devon – we are quite a large practice with 6 vets, 12 nurses and a large reception and administration team. There is a nurse onsite 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I am part of the night shift rota, which means I do a mixture of day and night shifts. When I am on a night shift it’s approximately 15 hours and I have the responsibility of answering all the incoming phone calls from our small animal hospital and a local farm/equine practice, I then refer the phone calls to the appropriate vet as necessary. All of the animals that are admitted to the hospital overnight are cared for by me/the duty nurse, with regular temperature/heart rate and respiration checks, administration of intravenous fluid therapy and medications and of course toilet breaks for dogs! Some nights it can feel quiet but some nights I am on my feet managing a variety of animals with their different emergencies for the whole 15 hours.

In the future I’d love to complete a certificate in animal physiotherapy or hydrotherapy, where I could then focus my work around sporting dogs and keeping their performance and wellbeing at 100%.

I really enjoy networking with like-minded people through this community and I feel like it is connecting me with a world of people living similar lives with similar passions. I cannot wait to see where the next year takes me and I look forward to meeting more of you along my journey. 

Thanks for reading, Alannah x