Dr Rory Cowlam, better known as ‘Rory the Vet’, is a practising veterinary surgeon and star of CBBC show ‘The Pet Factor’, currently on its 8th series. Rory is also an Amazon best-selling author, with his debut book ‘Secret Life of a Vet’, and serves as a positive example to children, animal-lovers and adults alike through his charitable work with the British Dyslexia Association, RSCPA, StreetVet and the Dog’s Trust.
In an exclusive interview for Discover Animals, Rory speaks to us about his early influences, shares some memorable experiences, and reveals why pets are good for our mental health.
You knew from an early age that you wanted to work with animals, but who or what influenced your wish to become a vet?
I have wanted to be a vet since I was four years old! We picked up a blue Great Dane puppy called Lulu who would go on to be my best friend. We visited the vets in the first week or two of having her and from that moment on I knew I was going to work with animals. It was all because of Lulu and our vet, who still looks after my parents’ dogs to this day, Mr Benson.
Growing up did you keep any pets or animals and what were they?
I wanted ALL the animals! For pretty much my whole childhood we had three dogs, two cats, hamsters, chickens, ducks and geese. We also lived in very rural farmland so we were surrounded by wildlife and farms animals.
What has been your most memorable experience during your career as a vet and which event are you most proud of?
Honestly, graduating as a vet is and always will be my biggest achievement. It was a lifetime goal and something I had worked towards for pretty much my whole life. As for memorable moments, we get quite a few of those as vets. I suppose I won’t ever forget the first time a dog covered me in diarrhoea!
How rewarding is your job, and how does being a vet affect your daily life?
Oh, I think my job is the best, I love it so much. Don’t get me wrong there are definitely downsides but I wouldn’t do anything else! I think the big thing about being a vet is having to bite your tongue when out and about. We live and breathe animals so often we struggle not to give our opinions on other people’s pets, even when we aren’t asked!
What advice would you give to a young person wishing to become a vet?
It’s hard work and long hours and you will definitely hit bumps in the road but if you want it enough and you stick at, you will make a great vet, I’m sure of it. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough and make sure to remember that you get to help animals. And that is the best feeling in the world.
Pets can be great companions, but what are the mental health benefits of keeping a pet and can they help deal with stress?
We know from countless studies that pets are incredibly beneficial to our mental health. Even just spending 15 minutes stroking a dog can reduce your heart rate and lower your blood pressure! Pets are always there for you, through the good times and the bad, always there to listen with no social agenda and no judgement. The only thing they ask for in return is love. That seems a pretty awesome deal to me.
The Secret Life of a Vet by Rory Cowlam is available to buy now from Amazon: