Veterinary surgeon Mike Fitzgerald

As someone who works all day with animals, as a Veterinarian, I am often reminded of W.C.Fields’ famous quote : “never work with children or animals”. It helps to trot this one out when my furry patient is not sticking to the script or has an entirely different agenda.

Last week I was reminded of the enormous value of animals, in particular the canine species, working with us humans, when I met Bruce the labradoodle who had been trained to work as an Assistance dog for a client who suffered from PTSD/Anxiety.

Bruce seemed like your normal happy, tail-wagging young dog during his checkup and immunisation. The only clue that he was different was the red harness his owner held, emblazoned with the words ASSISTANCE DOG.

Dr David Glendinning

David Glendinning is an advanced trainee studying for his fellowship in general practice. When he is not studying he suffers déjà vu with his friends and family.

“Hi mate, haven’t seen you for a while,” says David’s mate.

“Yeah, sorry mate, I’ve been studying.”

“Studying? What I thought you were all done?”

“Not quite. I’ve been studying for my Fellowship.”

Jenny Dowell (right, as Clairee) and Elyse Knowles (left, as Annelle) in Steel Magnolias

These days nearly all of us are lucky enough to retire in reasonable health. After a lifetime of making critical decisions day in and day out, with others supposedly following our every instruction, the shift to retirement can be a shock. Some come to suffer what former Labor politician Gareth Evans called “relevance deprivation syndrome”. 

Keeping active in mind and body is the key to warding off the vicissitudes of old age or at least delaying them. 

Some research in this area is being undertaken by the Maintain Your Brain study, funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. The study is a randomised controlled trial of multiple online interventions designed to target modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Risk factors to be addressed are physical inactivity, cognitive inactivity, depression/anxiety, overweight and obesity, and poor dietary habits. 

Our cover this month is the painting “Love 2019” by local artist Katka Adams. Katka has explored the refugee experience in her recent exhibition “Coming Home”. She describes her inspiration and motivations below and on Page 15 editor, Robin Osborne details her journey of  escaping the Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968 and the start of a new life in Australia as “that Czech girl”.

Dislocation from one’s cultural roots is a common experience for many Australians from European, African and even Aboriginal backgrounds. For some art gives voice to their experience, for others it is the written word.

I believe - That the Lord God created the universe
I believe - That he sent his only son to die for my sins
And I believe - That ancient Jews built boats and sailed to America
I am a Mormon! And a Mormon just believes
I Believe, from The Book of Mormon, by Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez

The Book of Mormon, the No. 1 hit musical in Australia, follows the journey of two devout young men as they set off on their mandatory two years of missionary work far from their home in Salt Lake City, Utah where the church is headquartered..

The Book of Mormon is the work of South Park creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, which as be expected given this pedigree is irreverent, scatalogical and confronting. In short, not the normal fare of religion, making its success with mainstream audiences seem highly improbable, even though its central theme touches a cord for the religious and irreligious alike.