I always loved animals; I had rabbits and guinea pigs as a child and I loved caring for them. I also found them to be a great source of comfort whenever I was upset or worried about something. When I was twelve, I was over the moon when my parents decided we would get a family dog. After much deliberation we settled on a cocker spaniel. We visited a breeder with a litter of cocker spaniels and chose our puppy, a beautiful blue roan cocker spaniel. We spent a long time debating names and decided on ‘Sapphire’ (‘Sapphy for short’). She was ready to collect on the 29th June 2004- my thirteenth Birthday.
As I progressed through high school, each year we would spend two weeks in the Lake District in the summer. Sapphy would come with us and loved walking around the lakes and walking in the mountains. This became my focus each year as I took each set of exams and tried to decide which direction to take my studying. Sapphy was a very bouncy, playful dog. Her love for life was infectious, and she was a great source of stress relief and comfort, particularly during stressful exam periods.
At the beginning of my sixth form studies, as I was starting to think more seriously about my university applications and career path, Sapphy had a litter of nine puppies. We had compiled a large amount of information about canine labour and puppy rearing from our local veterinary practice, and I was lucky enough to be present for most of the births. Sapphy only needed a small amount of help during the labour, and being part of it was an amazing experience. Sapphy took to motherhood instinctively; although her playful nature led her to confiscate every one of the several puppy toys we had bought for them one by one, and march them through onto her bed in the living room where they couldn’t get them.
Watching the puppies grow, and their individual personalities come out was fascinating. From a very young age each one showed unique personality traits. Having nine puppies in the house was hard work and involved constant clean-up, but was incredibly rewarding. It was heart-breaking to see them all go off to their respective homes, however we kept one puppy- a girl we named Gracie.
Over the following year I undertook a lot of research into animal related courses to apply to at university; however none of them seemed quite right for what I wanted to do. A colleague of my Mum’s suggested veterinary nursing. As a physiotherapist she treated both human and animal patients and had worked alongside veterinary nurses. I began to research the profession and immediately knew I had found exactly what I was looking for. My relationship with Sapphy and Gracie and the experience of growing up with them had a huge influence on this. They were my immediate reference point to which I applied all aspects of the role I was reading about. To provide the care described in my research to pets like them was the perfect choice of career path for me.
I must have contacted almost every veterinary practice in Cheshire in order to book in the work experience needed to gain access to the veterinary nursing courses offered at university. The time I spent during my school holidays in practice only confirmed my choice of career path and sparked the passion I already felt for veterinary nursing even more.
I completed a 4 year degree course Harper Adams University, and once again Sapphy and Gracie were there throughout all the exams, coursework and my dissertation stress, reminding me of my passion and my inspiring me all the way.
In 2013 I graduated with first class honours and began my first RVN position in a local first opinion practice with 3 branches. The following year I gained a position as in inpatient care nurse at Northwest Veterinary Specialists, providing hands on 24 hour care to a wide range of patients with a variety of needs. Behind every patient my inspiration continues to be Sapphy and Gracie. They are at the forefront of my thoughts treating every patient as I would treat them.
In March 2019, at nearly 15 years old and almost 2 years after her initial cancer diagnosis, we lost our beautiful Sapphy to a second unrelated form of cancer which was diagnosed in December 2018. She led a wonderful life and gave me so much happiness, comfort and inspiration over the years.
She spent her last week in the Lake District, and watching her in her favourite place one last time was wonderful. I owe my career to her, and feel so grateful to have had the privilege to have her in my life. Because of her I get to go to work each day and do what I love. I hope that in her honour I will go on to make a difference to the lives of the patients I nurse, in whatever way I can. Sapphy will always be my inspiration, and I hope any positive influence I have during my career will be a fitting legacy for her.