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LIFE BY LOUIS: Why I’m not a veterinary doctor

Tuesday June 25 2019

Our local veterinary doctor certainly did not inspire my career choice. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH

Our local veterinary doctor certainly did not inspire my career choice. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

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Our local veterinary doctor certainly did not inspire my career choice.

We all called the government veterinary doctor fetinary. This was  a person who was held in high esteem, but also one riddled with controversy.

The doctor was held in high esteem because he always drove a new SUV and commanded more respect than the local priest who drove an old Datsun.

The SUV was the only vehicle in the entire location that never got stuck in our muddy roads however wet the weather was. The government must have appreciated that the cows needed his crucial services regardless of the weather conditions and therefore gave him a vehicle that could swim through mud.


He was also Mr Clean and any time he was visiting, you had to ensure that you had new soap, a clean wash basin and warm water.


He didn’t take it very lightly if you were sloppy in bringing along the items that were mandatory for a cow clinic, especially the yellow card where he scribbled things that none of us could read.

The only reason I didn't like the veterinary doctor is that I felt like he denied the bulls their natural rights to provide life-bearing seeds to the cows.

It was more entertaining when the local bull was given the honours. There could only be one prize bull in the entire village that was renowned for carrying the royal seed.

The owner guarded him fiercely and any time you visited him with the intention of borrowing the services of the bull for your cow, you approached his homestead with reverence.

To increase your chances of getting the service, you were accompanied by your wife and a respected village elder, and you carried a basket of shopping or choice farm produce.

The veterinary officer seldom attended to the cows at home unless you were a really rich man who could afford to serve him a decent lunch in porcelain plates.


He was a sticker of time-keeping. If you delayed to appear at the designated veterinary centre which was located at the local cattle dip in time, he moved on swiftly.

You had to wait for the next appointment or consult a local quack who was likely to leave your cows in a worse state on top of charging you a fortune.

On the appointed clinic days, the doctor would arrive with pomp and park the SUV prominently.

The car boot was always well stocked and arranged with cold boxes full of choice bull seed from renowned ancestry in England and Brazil.

One thing I never got to figure out is how the seed was harvested. But we were too young to allow our innocent minds to figure out such complex issues. At the best, we were told that the seeds were grown in big government buildings in Nairobi and the government bulls that provided the seeds ate warm food and lived in air conditioned barns.

Soon he would plug in a pair of long and nasty hand gloves. The rest of the process was methodical and he always protected the cows’ decency by being brief and deft. 


He was rumoured to be a darling for single women who didn't have anyone to help them with taming the cows as the seed was being planted.

He preferred to go to their homes to deliver the service, and while there he was served with hot meals and homemade porridge.

This rare privilege still didn't make the fetinary career look anything close to lucrative for me.

I later learnt that the modern fetinary in Nairobi treats shepherd dogs in the leafy suburbs and earns something equivalent of my rent for treating a single dog suffering from the common cold.

If you want to have him treat your horse, you can only write a cheque or talk to your banker for a cash advance facility.

He is sometimes forced to conduct an open heart surgery on a cat that is having a problem with digestion, and during such solemn moments the owner of the cat gathers his entire family and they hold a vigil at the reception until the operation is over and the cat has been released to the general ward.

This is the lucrative aspect of the veterinary doctor that we were not briefed about by our career advisors.