Australian Veterinary Students Help Out in Dog Dreaming Country

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a vet in the Australian Outback? If so, check out this article from the...

Joy  |  Aug 28th 2006


Australian Veterinary Students

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a vet in the Australian Outback? If so, check out this article from the University of Melbourne.

Vet Sci project leads to Dog Dreaming country
[ UniNews Vol. 15, No. 15 21 August – 4 September 2006 ]

By Janine Sim-Jones

Performing outdoor surgery on a dog in the twilight while a colleague is swatting mosquitoes off your forehead is not the ideal operating environment for a trainee veterinarian but for Daniel Tung it was a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience.

It was really amazing, not just as a Vet Science thing but as a cultural experience,” says Mr Tung, a fourth year veterinary science student.

When I enrolled in Vet Science, I didnt think I would find myself in Arnhem Land doing surgery on dogs.”

Mr Tung was one of three students who accompanied lecturer Dr Liz Tudor on her annual pilgrimage into the remote Dog Dreaming Country of the Northern Territory.

It has given me such a different understanding of Aboriginal people, he says.

You hear all the negative stories and see all the bad publicity in the papers but to go up there and see how people live in their communities and how happy they are, it gives you a different outlook.”

For the past two years Dr Tudor and her husband Rick have led University of Melbourne students on trips to the Kunbarllanjnja Community, in a project that aims to improve the welfare of animals and their indigenous owners – and to educate local people about how to better care for their dogs.

The Tudors have been regular visitors to Arnhem Land over the past four years, and the student project is an extension of the many ties they have built in the region over that time.

Their most recent visit, in June, included Daniel Tung, fellow students Nicola le Blanc Smith and Kate Thompson, and Melbourne veterinarian Dr Lucy White.

Dogs play a big part in the lives of the Kunbarllanjnja people but in many Indigenous communities the sheer number of dogs and the exorbitant cost of living (a box of Weet-Bix costs $12 from an outstation shop plane) leave owners with few resources to care for their animals.

Dr Tudor says that in the long term the project aims to improve the health of the regions dog population and in turn the health of the people.

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