Dr Zara Aziz: Is there a doctor in the dog house?

I have vetoed the idea of having a dog at home, but the twins have adopted stealth tactics. I have my nose in the fridge after a long day at the surgery, and will agree to anything, or so they think. Twin One asks slyly: 'Can we have this puppy, mummy?'

She brandishes a photo. 'It's potty-trained.'

'I'll think about it.'

I have to confess I have a problem with dogs, especially 'cute' ones, having been bitten as a child by one such canine.

Now here I am at Mrs B's house. She not only has MUPS (medically unexplained physical symptoms), but owns two terriers that are as ancient as she and prone to spells of visitor-inspired incontinence. She is waiting at the door as I arrive for a visit. Stan and Ollie slobber in anticipation as they eye my bag.

I stand back and speak with quiet authority.

'Could you put those two in a separate room and shut the door, please?'

'Oh, my little dogs wouldn't hurt a fly, let alone a GP,' replies Mrs B. She seems ready to burst into tears. I concede immediately and, thinking I should banish my childish fears, step over the threshold. The dogs escort me into the lounge.

I give Mrs B a check-up while Ollie scrabbles at my dog-eared bag. He makes a strange, high-pitched noise as he chews the leather strap.

'Poor little thing, he has such a bad cough, doctor, can you hear it? It's gone to his lungs,' says Mrs B, cuddling the creature.

I nod my head in grave sympathy.

'He has bronchitis, you know, passive smoking from my husband's pipe. I give him his inhalers twice a day.'

Mrs B, by contrast, seems to be in rude health and I think it is time to make a swift exit.

'While I have you ...' she begins as I make for the door. I hold my breath. What is it going to be? A request for diazepam, zopiclone, antibiotics or perhaps a referral?

'Could you listen to Ollie's chest with that tube thing, my dear? The vet was so terribly busy; I couldn't get an appointment till next week.'

  • Dr Aziz is a GP partner in north-east Bristol. If you are interested in writing a column for GP, please email sarah.wild@haymarket.com.

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