As TV’s Supervet Noel Fitpatrick heads up to Arley for DogFest we grab five minutes with the man himself to talk about guardian angels, rock concerts and dreaming bigger
What inspired you to become a vet?
Early in my career I was intensely frustrated by the lack of options available to our animal friends. I felt powerless and helpless. I realised that I could spend the next 30 years feeling like that, or I could do something to make a difference.
I know it sounds evangelical, but this is what I believe – we really can save the world and the animals on it, both wild and domestic, if we really want to.
What drives you?
I want to give all of the animals all of the options all of the time and I want a team around me that genuinely believes that we can make the world a better place one animal at a time. It all begins and ends with one animal that is loved by one human in one moment in time. That drives me, because if I truly deliver for that animal and for the family that loves that animal then that really does matter. It really does matter that our little bit of the universe is OK, and by holding that golden nugget of life in our hands and cherishing the love it represents, we genuinely do make the world a better place and we make a statement that society should look after its animals and that unconditional love shared between a human and an animal represents the very best of the human condition.
What is your ultimate goal?
I want to create the greatest veterinary practice that ever existed on planet Earth, by virtue of the big hearts of the people within it, by virtue of the technology and environments we pioneer for the greater good of animals, and by virtue of the lengths we will go to always do the right thing for each and every animal entrusted to our care. It’s not enough to be able to do something – it must be the right thing to do.
On a larger scale though my ultimate goal is to make society aware that we cannot continue destroying species after species and habitat after habitat – that we must take collective responsibility for the animals on the planet – because otherwise the next generation will be impoverished and deprived of what could have been if we had looked after it.
It is for a well-trained veterinary specialist to sit at dinner with a well-trained human consultant surgeon and for both to have equal respect for each other, to learn from each other, to realise that all life is precious and to work together for the greater good of all animals – that’s humans, dogs, cats and tigers – the lot! It’s not so much to ask, is it?
I have founded a charity called The Humanimal Trust that aims to champion this simultaneous advancement of animal and human healthcare so everyone benefits.
How do you switch off a long day?
Hahh. I don’t! I can’t; I never have been able to. My days generally run from 9am till 3am anyway – so there is no recharging after a long day – just another long day to enjoy after that one. I just migrate through various states of mental activity. I generally do multiple things at the same time, because my brain is such that it requires overload all of the time – so, as I answer this question, I’m looking at radiographs, answering emails, writing a lecture and eating my dinner.
I do go to rock concerts and theatre – those are the two things I like the best to set my mind free to wander in different directions – and often I’ll get ideas that help me and the animals – such as when I saw Wolverine from The X-men movie I invented a way to mend fractures using pins like he has in his hands.
Who was your first pet?
My first pet was a farm dog called Shep. He was my friend, my confidante, my companion, my trusted sidekick on a million journeys dreamt up in my head as I sat and talked to him in the hay shed. I had a really tough time at school – so his companionship meant the world to me. Every animal I have seen since is kind-of an extension of him – I just want to show them love and I will do whatever it takes to try to make them well again, to get them out of pain, to comfort them and to make them smile, just like Shep did for me.
How did you become host of DogFest? Why should people attend?
Dogfest was originally a small event that we held at the practice a few years ago to celebrate the life and times of all of our canine friends. I had always had in my head a dream of a giant field full of smiling happy dogs and the people they drag along. Dogfest celebrates the boundless joy and uplifting magic of the bond between man and dog. It’s a wonderful day of rejoicing in our partnership of purpose with our canine friends, reminding us of how incredibly important “man’s best friend” actually is.
People should attend in tens of thousands – because if you love life and the company of dogs then you absolutely have to be there! And after all he or she has done for you, keeping you fit and healthy and being there for you in thick and thin – the least you can do is take ‘em for the very best dog’s day out ever in the history of the world!