Sometimes I like to pass the time on my bus commute by engaging strangers in conversation. Usually I’ll ask them what they’re doing with their day, and they’ll typically proceed to tell me something about their job. (Hot tip, in case you want to try this at at home: it seems to work better on a bus than on a train or tram. Don’t ask me why. People seem more receptive on buses.)

Today I ended up listening to a veterinarian tell me about his work. I was wondering if he worked at the animal hospital near Moorabbin. He told me that he enjoys his work, but confessed that it can occasion various kinds of quandaries from time to time, or just be downright difficult. Today, he said, he was performing oncology surgery on a dog of about eight years of age – so not a young dog, but one with at least a couple of good years left in her were it not for this tumor. My vet pal was hopeful that the surgery would hold the cancer off, but said it was possible that it wouldn’t, in which case the dog may end up being euthanised.

Also on this vet’s agenda for today was desexing a cat. Bayside council, apparently, has introduced mandatory desexing of all newly registered cats, so there’s a steady trade in that. This cat is a recently adopted adolescent tom cat, and his human companion has reported that he’s been spraying urine like nobody’s business. My vet buddy expressed mild concern that the human in question, an extremely enthusiastic but not especially attentive twenty year old, wouldn’t be able to resist feeding the cat before bringing him in for the procedure. This is contrary to the vet’s recommendation that animals not be fed the morning of a desexing operation.

I don’t have a pet, so none of this information was that applicable to me. Even so, I’m pleased to have learned something about a topic I’m not familiar with, and about the life of a stranger as well.