It's been so hectic recently that there's been so little time to blog, but one of the most interesting things that happened last week was meeting up with Chris Evans and his lovely GSD Enzo at Noel Fitzpatrick's amazing orthopedic and neurology referral centre near Goldalming.
We featured Chris and wife Natasha in the mag a few issues ago but had no idea that just a little while later there'd be a terrible emergency and that poor Enzo would need pretty much a miracle to keep him going. Luckily they live close by to probably the best vet for spinal problems in Europe if not the world.
It was to prove an amazing day in many ways. The devotion shared by Chris and Enzo is obvious to all. Enzo's eyes follow his master at all times, he is trying so hard to get better. It's only a week since his second major spinal op in a month but already he's perky and there's signs of movement in both back legs in the therapy pool. Everyone has fingers firmly crossed the improvements will continue and he'll start to regain the movement again on land. It's still a very delicate time - and it was very brave of Chris to invite us in. But he was keen for us to meet his vet.
Meeting the pioneering vet Noel who performed the surgery - the first of its kind anywhere in the world - was a bit like meeting Elvis.
Getting any time with Noel Fitzpatrick - who literally has no time to himself - is almost as unlikely as meeting the king of rock and roll.
He works such long hours he often sleeps at the centre, we grabbed a few minutes with him between operations and consultations - it was meant to be his lunch break, but the phone kept going with anxious owners waiting on updates - he needed no notes. The centre was full of dogs that had had complex surgery but he had total recall of human and canine names and status updates. He confessed he was seldom home in daylight and was married to his Border Terrier Kiera and that he was even a bad husband to her as he was always so busy.
I was so surprised by the show around of his new centre. If only hospitals were this hi-tech, clean but above all compassionate! This is somewhere where science and humanity are regarded as equally important. This man is a genius in many fields. His pioneering surgery shows he is a vet in a million, but his ability in inspire people and involve them in his quest for excellence is equally amazing. He needed 10 million pounds of investment to make this state-of-the art haven for pets needing putting back together. Just getting this glimpse convinced me how he persuaded the bankers to believe in his vision. He's a man on a mission and he's certainly not finished yet!
The last time I was so inspired by a vet was when I discovered the late great pioneering cancer vet John Carter. Noel and he share many similarities, if your going to change the world you have to have a strong character. But what Noel has that I've never seen before is a brilliant scientific brain but he's capable of the most profound observations about fundamental human values that he might have been a poet or an artist if he'd taken a different path.
It is such an honour to meet people who will change the world for the better. The stuff that Noel is doing obviously saves individual dogs and cats from suffering who often otherwise would have had no chance of survival or any quality of life at all - but the wider applications of the strides he's making will change lots of humans lives, too.
Forget the clever surgery for a minute, by showing people that one person can make a difference he leads by example. When he was just a boy in Ireland his destiny was framed. At nine years old he was helping out at lambing. When in the middle of the night he'd found a sheep about to give birth in a water filled ditch he didn't have the strength to pull the sheep to safety or to keep the twin lambs heads above water. He looked up into the stars that night and decided he never wanted to feel so helpless again.
If you are pleased that Noel grew up to follow his dreams and he's helped you, please get in touch. I think it's time for him to feel as hugged as his patients undoubtedly have.