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Highland Vet Guy Gordon talks finding fame and heartbreak on the job

Practice director Guy Gordon has penned a book as a companion to the popular show The Highland Vet.
Practice director Guy Gordon has penned a book as a companion to the popular show The Highland Vet.

From operating on Sweep the sheepdog who had an unfortunate encounter with a bus, to treating a bull with an infected hoof – there is never a dull day for Guy Gordon.

Getting coughed on by a cow mid operation, bitten by a puffin and visited by the Duke of Rothesay, it’s certainly not the nine till five for Guy and his team – whose working day has more than a million enthralled viewers.

There are some feisty patients requiring care in Thurso.

The dedicated vet is the unexpected star of the hit show The Highland Vet, which documents the highs and lows of the small yet mighty team within D.S. McGregor & Partners Veterinary Practice.

The beauty of Thurso and the fascinating case load has quite rightly captured people’s imagination, to the extent that Guy has gone on to pen a book called The Highland Vet, A Year at Thurso.

Your Life caught up with him and found out why even on the most difficult of days, Guy feels nothing but blessed to give Mother Nature a helping hand in the Highlands.

Childhood dream

“I’ve always been very into animals, and when I was a child I was fascinated by wild animals in particular,” said Guy.

“David Attenborough was on the TV and of course when adults found out I loved animals, they always asked if I was going to be a vet.

A rather disgruntled puffin is an occupational hazard.

“So there was maybe some kind of influence; I loved all the sciences when I was at school.”

Having graduated from Edinburgh, the furthest north Guy had ever travelled was Helmsdale.

But with his wife hailing from the Highlands, when the job in Thurso beckoned it didn’t seem like such a big leap after all.

One thing is for sure though; the rugged terrain makes for an interesting case load.

Out in the country

“I think it’s a different style of veterinary medicine, more traditionally what people think of if you hark on back to the days of James Herriot,” said Guy.

“We try to be as progressive as we can, we see the whole span of animals including household pets in abundance.

“We also head out on to farms as well.”

A pedicure with a difference for Guy Gordon and his patient.

Guy was catapulted to fame after a film crew got in touch, but he didn’t initially believe it would amount to anything.

“The phone went, as it does all the time, and our receptionist had a very excited expression,” he said.

“It was the people who made The Yorkshire Vet, and they wanted to come along.

“I was half hearted about it, but then thought well nothing ventured nothing gained.

“The crew was looking at several Highland practices, I didn’t think we’d hear from them again.”

Glamour isn’t really part of the job for Guy.

The show is now its third year of filming, and the team were then approached to write a book as a companion to the series.

“I thought why not, if you don’t take these opportunities in life you might just kick yourself later on,” said Guy.

The book details some interesting cases over the years, including a uterine prolapse, where the uterus can protrude after calving.

High stakes

“It was one evening where there was thick snow, I couldn’t remember seeing snow quite as bad in all my time here,” recalled Guy.

“There was an emergency on a farm which was way out in the countryside. I didn’t know how I was going to get there because there was a police roadblock.

“But this cow was in dire straits.”

Guy and his team often attend call outs on farms.

As to whether Guy managed to save the day, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

One thing is clear however, his passion continues when the cameras stop rolling.

“It has become a way of life, it engages me every day,” said Guy.

“It’s hard graft, sometimes you’re getting up in the middle of the night.

After all this time, I still want to get up and go into the surgery.

“We can probably learn a lot from animals. They are very philosophical about life.

“They can have cancer or a leg amputated, but they just get on with it.”

“They don’t have the physiological baggage of processing the situation they are in; in some ways that is a blessing.

Every day is different for the team in Thurso.

“Animals just get up and on with coping at life remarkably well.”

Although Guy confesses to seeing the attraction of cats, he will forever have a soft spot for dogs.

“There is never a harsh word from a dog, and always a wagging tail,” he said.

For every happy ending, Guy has consoled many a devastated owner.

Of course vets love working with animals. You will be working with humans just as much; every animal comes with a human attached who is quite often very distressed.

“If you couldn’t cope with euthanasia, you’d leave the profession soon after graduating.

“The more I go through it, the more I identify with the human side.

Guy says the team see the whole spectrum of patients, from fury to feathered.

“When you are a young vet, you are considering euthanasia from a practical point of view and hoping that the process goes smoothly.

“When you have done it so many times, it becomes second nature, so you are in a position to assess the emotionally charged atmosphere that bit more.

Guy and the team have recalled some of their most intriguing cases. The book can be purchased via your local bookseller or Amazon.

“It tugs on the heartstrings that little bit more the older I am, because I can identify and reflect.

“It is like losing a member of the family.”

The Highland Vet will air on Channel Five on Monday May 30.

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