My puppy is fun-loving and loyal – who needs a boyfriend?
PUBLISHED: 13:04 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:04 16 July 2018
Grayling Marsh, a fresh-out-of-college vet, will write a regular column for us about creatures great and small... and adventures with her Labrador Lachlan
Let’s get to know each other. Grayling’s a great name. Must be a story behind it…
“The Grayling is a butterfly, an awfully boring moth-like butterfly. But a fleeting and rare creature, my parents tell me. It is also, unfortunately, a fish of the salmon variety.
“People constantly insist I have misunderstood them and given my surname as opposed to my first name, or simply that Grayling cannot be a name, and especially not one for a female!
“Despite the constant questioning about my name, I never find it annoying as it is an interesting story to tell and I have never met another. My parents would say you could never meet anyone like me, and it’s probably a good thing!”
Born and bred in Suffolk in the villages in the hinterland of Felixstowe, spending most of my childhood outside, eating dirt and doing crayon rubbings of anything that was slightly rough.
Teenagerdom was a combination of schoolwork, squash (county level up to under 19) and gaining experience with the local farmers (lambing and harvesting). Living out of town and being the youngest in the school year meant I cycled everywhere. That and horse riding makes for thighs like tree trunks!
Over the years we have had horses, dogs, cats (up to 13 at one point, now only eight), hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and more recently pet pigs. I distinctly remember my baby sister being hung in a horse’s hay net while I “helped” my dad muck out. I am sure it’s true that eating a little dirt and being surrounded by animals at a young age prevents allergies and protects you from a whole host of diseases.
Was your heart always set on being a vet?
When my baby sister (two and a half years my junior) was born she “gave” me a Playmobil set of surgeons and operating theatre which I loved playing with. Perhaps, subconsciously, my parents were trying to suggest a career in medicine, but I always found the animals much more intelligent, responsive, challenging and rewarding than humans and therefore drifted towards veterinary rather than human medicine. By the time I left primary school becoming a vet was definitely plan A.
I started my school life at the small, idyllic, well-run, friendly primary school in Bucklesham. There were only 12 of us in the year and I have strong and fond memories of the influential teachers who inspired me to question everything and learn as much as I could. Orwell High School followed that.
After 6th form and an initial rejection from veterinary schools across the country I took a gap year, working four jobs. Whilst it was never part of the plan, I would not change it at all, having had the opportunity to work with vets in South Africa and backpack around Europe.
I then moved to Sutton Bonnington (Nottingham University) to study for a degree in Animal Science and Agriculture. Having spent three years in Nottingham I graduated with the top first as well as the Physiology Society prize and the Lamming prize for the best dissertation (which was on the molecular physiology of maternal recognition of pregnancy in the horse – it’s surprisingly difficult to determine when a horse is pregnant!).
I was accepted onto the accelerated veterinary medicine course in Edinburgh. Joy unbounded! I qualified from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine in Edinburgh with a distinction, a certificate of teaching in veterinary medicine, and the Martin Weaver prize for the best equine student.
The best bits of university in general are living across the country (Scotland is hugely beautiful) and meeting those few people that you know will be lifelong friends from different disciplines, including a mad German tidal energy PhD student, Dr Llewellyn, and a semi-professional Muay Thai fighter who has probably given me more bruises than is legally allowed!
Any tricky moments?
Being away I missed my godchildren (now seven and 10) and perhaps family (!). But one of the most difficult challenges for someone like me was maintaining the high standards I set myself and learning from experiences when I felt I hadn’t achieved as high as I would have liked. That and trying to justify to myself the ridiculous amount of ingredients I bought for my “hobby” of baking almost continuously. I do like a good cake!
Do you listen to The Archers? There have been one or two raised eyebrows in Ambridge at a female vet turning up.
I don’t listen to The Archers but a family friend in Cornwall doesn’t miss an episode, so when visiting regularly for surfing I catch the odd episode.
Sadly, I think there is still some gender discrimination. I don’t think you can get away from the fact that men can be bigger and stronger than women and may find it easier, particularly as a large-animal vet. However, I do think everyone should be considered on their merits and a big personality will always compensate for biceps that aren’t as big. I am not so sure about tree trunk thighs!
I always wanted to come back to East Anglia. After all, it will always be home (in Suffolk). I have fond memories of Norfolk over the years, particularly boating on the beautiful broads and visiting my sister at university in Norwich, a fascinating and vibrant city. I love to camp and most recently found myself at Blakeney Point to see the seals – with Beans Boats.
My parents’ house will always be one of my favourite places in the world. But I also love motorbike trips to Aldeburgh (I took and passed my full bike licence last year) and anywhere in the countryside.
Your black Lab…
Lachlan is practically perfect in every way, but I suspect I am biased! He is cheeky, fun-loving and incredibly loyal – who needs a boyfriend?
Not many people seem to have a finger on the pulse of their character traits. You’re open about some of yours. Explain!
I like to be fully occupied and it wouldn’t be unheard of for me to be somewhat truculent if my plans went awry. I am not saying I stamp my feet, but you get the picture.
I would definitely say I am a bit of a hyper control freak, yes! But, life is educating me with regard to this. Mellowing seems inevitable!
If the last seven years have taught me anything it is that my mum is, as she says, always right: you can’t plan everything and I definitely need to mellow. However, as someone described by her family as stubborn, determined, and a complete whirlwind of a person, I couldn’t be happier to have put everything I had into the plan of becoming a vet.
With regard to the title Dr, a courtesy title the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has authorised vets to use, I intend to stick with Grayling, no Dr required – or Miss, Ms or Mrs for that matter, although the latter seems to be unlikely anytime soon. Whirlwinds take time to settle.
So, here I go. Into the world of veterinary practice, filled with desire, enthusiasm, and more than a little trepidation. And needing a new car!
Grayling works at The Barn Veterinary Practice, The Barns, Wenham Road, Copdock, near Ipswich