Meet Tracy Bache – Director and Animal Educator

Meet Tracy Bache, puppy training extraordinaire and director of Adelaide Veterinary Behaviour Services. Tracy has over 10 years experience when it comes to animal behaviour and once taught a chicken to jump up on a table and walk across a plank of wood! Tracy is part of the dynamic duo at AVBS paving the way in behavioural services. Tracy is an education leader in the upcoming Educating Puppies Workshop on November 8-9th.

Seeing puppies is routine for most of us, and you are excited and interested all the time. Why is that?  

I enjoy bringing new information to the puppy preschool workshops. Unfortunately, there is a lot of out dated information presented either through television or internet, and people believe the “quick fixes” actually work. It feels so good to help them understand and get results.

How can general practitioners and vet nurses benefit from educating owners better at such an early age?

Updated knowledge allows people to feel confident that what they are teaching their pet is the best available. They expect these lessons will turn their young pet into a well behaved adult. They want to be proud of their pet, not ashamed.

Vets and vet nurses who advise clients on puppy care or run puppy preschools, need to pass on the right knowledge and confidence. We do it so commonly, its important to stay current. In our Puppy Education Workshop they will see how their classes can feel more structured. This will also enable them to recognise puppies that may have a certain level of medical anxiety early. 20-25 percent of dogs have medical behavioural conditions that would benefit from treatment. If we miss it, a child could be bitten, or the dog could end up abandoned. We have an opportunity to dramatically improve their lives from the beginning.

In this workshop our colleagues will be given the tools & resources to provide the client with the right support to help them identify and treat their puppy’s anxiety as well.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I always find it so rewarding when vet and nursing colleagues that have attended our workshops call me with an issue with a particular puppy. With everything they have learnt from the workshop they are able to provide the appropriate help for that puppy. So, the puppy is being treated and the client is happy. And, then I am happy!

What have you learned from experience that you didn’t learn from a textbook?

I learned how to teach a chicken to jump up on a table and walk across a plank of wood. Training a different species instead of dog makes you “think outside the square”. You have to trust everything you know in the learning theory to apply to training a chicken. You can’t force a chicken to do anything so you need to work with the chicken rather than against it.

What practical tips would you give to general practitioners?

Understand the difference between a “behaviour problem & problem behaviour”. Also don’t be afraid to refer puppies to a Veterinary Behaviourist. Puppies don’t grow out of behaviour problems they generally become worse. Recognising the problem is the first step.

What advice would you give new graduates?

Read, learn, observe & understand animal body language. Know the four F’s !!!!

If you have any questions for Tracy feel free to email her at

Meet Dr Rosemary McKean – New Graduate

Meet recent graduate Dr Rosemary McKean – a mum of two wonderful kids and wife to an exceptionally supportive husband.

Qualifications: Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Bachelor of Veterinary Science – CSU

Position: Veterinarian at Moorong St Veterinary Clinic, WAGGA WAGGA

Organisations (& Title, Year), Awards/ Acknowledgments:

* Redgate Poll Herefords Prize in Animal Production and Genetics, 2010
* Chapter of Veterinary Pharmacology – Award for excellence in veterinary pharmacology, 2011
* Australian Society for Parasitology Problem Based Learning Prize, 2013
* VetPrac Aesculap Academy Prize for Academic Merit, 2014
* Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association Prize 2014

Rosemary finished school the year Melbourne Uni changed from direct entry to having to complete a year of science first. Unfortunately she didn’t realise that at university, unlike at school, you were required to do a little work to achieve good grades. Subsequently she lined up for a second year of science having been accepted into UQ but making the mature adult decision that heading interstate for vet school was not worth giving up her horses for! Whilst she snuck closer to achieving a suitable academic score in her second year Rosemary just missed out so decided to move interstate with her future husband instead. They married one lovely Easter Sunday and had two children. Over the years Rosemary had done many jobs in various country towns predominantly in the media and marketing fields. Prior to starting vet science at CSU she was the marketing officer at the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame in Alice Springs. Her previous media and marketing experience helped her in her veterinary career – skills such as strategic thinking, critical decision making and balancing the interests of more than one interest group to arrive at the best outcome for everyone are all directly applicable to every day veterinary life.

What does winning the Aesculap Academy Prize mean to you?

Winning the Aesculap Academy Prize means that I have the opportunity to improve my clinical skills right at the very start of my career. This increase in skills will benefit my clinical confidence, my patients and my employer.

I think the skills that are the most important early in my career are communication and basic clinical skills. You have to be able to talk to clients and gain their confidence so that even if you have no idea what is wrong with their animal you can convey to them that you will do everything you can to find an answer for them. You also need basic clinical and surgical skills so that you are able to competently perform routine procedures.

Tell us about your experiences during your placements

Placements were a brilliant way to learn. They come with many challenges – a new location every three weeks, different people, different systems, different clients and client expectations. However, I found them an excellent way to challenge and extend not only your academic skills but your interpersonal and organisational skills plus expand your veterinary horizons. I am very grateful that so many clinics are willing to have students and patiently explain things for the hundredth time.

The most challenging situation I came up against whilst on rotations was a little Shetland pony with acute laminitis, phenylbutasone induced colitis and hyperlipidaemia. Her owner was a very cute three year old girl who brought in a drawing of the pony’s friends to put on the stable wall so she didn’t get lonely. The pony was in serious trouble and after five days of around the clock intensive care was sadly euthanased. It was a case that really tugged at the heartstrings as well as causing severe sleep depravation.

On a lighter note, one afternoon when I had to go in to the equine centre to do checks I took the kids with me, as I didn’t have a babysitter. I left them in the computer room whilst I did the treatments and came back to squeals of hilarity. They had invented a new game, Mariocart Uni. Played by racing wheely chairs backwards around a table obstacle course with the fastest time the winner. The whiteboard had a scoreboard and drawings to match!

What advise would you give to other mothers wanting a new career?

Anything is possible. Once you decide to do something there is always a way to make it work. Whilst this involves a lot of compromises and there is a vital need for support, anything is possible once you set your mind to it.

What are the challenges a vet student faces on a daily basis?

Study life balance is really challenging and I am quite sure I didn’t get it right quite a lot of the time. I found I had to compromise a lot of the time and really did not get to allocate as much time to anything as I would have liked. The best way I found was to be very organised and to structure the day so that there was a set time for everything to happen. This worked well until I got to clinical rotations and then every three weeks there was a new location, different hours and different assessment requirements. We muddled on through and it all worked out ok – study got done, kids got played with but time for social things was seriously limited.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to waterski, play with my geriatric (29 yo) horse, walk my dogs, play with my kids and share a nice bottle of wine with my husband.

What made you want to become a vet?

I decided to become a vet when I was about three. I don’t exactly remember what prompted me to want to become a vet at that time but as I got older I liked the idea of helping animals and helping people.

Do you have an exam tips you could share with vet students?

Ensure you get a good understanding of the foundation subjects like physiology, anatomy and pathology because then in most instances you can reason your way through from first principles.

How do you cope with stress?

Meditation and relaxation, even for just five or ten minutes a day, are essential to calm and center myself.

The Joy of Suturing


By Dr Anne Fawcett

Suturing? Isn’t that a basic skill and shouldn’t all vets be highly skilled at it? Well, yes and no. We learned those skills back at uni under guidance of specialists, then went out into the world and did our best. We practiced and practice, but as I learned last week pure practice doesn’t equal perfection.


Practice needs to be purposeful.

And then, when we DO become skilled, the action follows as second nature. We develop expert induced amnesia. When that happens, it can be hard to recognise problems and break bad habits.

As the ever-enthusiastic Dr Mendels says,

When we use our skills every day, we rarely remember action for action, how we came to develop the skill. We usually remember a frustration in learning, the awe towards our mentors and peers and then, through fumbling and practice over time – it one day clicks.

So spending a day focusing on suturing, now that one has the benefit of experience under one’s belt, could be quite enlightening.The suture is the central locus for a surgeon. It is the known thing, around which all the other things we know about surgery become significant and depend of each other.  The suturing workshop will be fun. We’ll be doing some basic ties, and some fancy ones. We’ll show you some specialist tips and share stories of “man vs tissue”.

We will also go over some important points to remember about types of suture and needles, which is a funny thing that most of us ignore… If you’re anything like ANY of the vets I’ve worked with you’ll be familiar with “absorbable 3-0” as the regular request. But if you consider your skill as a craft, then the type of needles and materials become increasingly more important. And we will discuss this, because good surgeons, like good artists, know their materials as well as their canvas.

There is a tendency for people to think they have learned one thing, ticked it off and can now move on. On the contrary – when its’ a skill you use every day, there’s always something new, always something you can improve. (Of course, its always a little challenging when you do the best sutures in the universe and your patient goes home for “bed rest”, gets a touch of ye olde cabin fever and jumps over the fence to hang out with next door’s poodle…or lets their housemate nibble the sutures out prematurely).

But seriously, I love the teaching philosophy behind this workshop, the palpable enthusiasm and the concept that we can always work harder at mastering (or tweaking) the so-called simple things we take for granted. It makes me wonder what other skills veterinarians and nurses use that are second nature, and whether we could benefit from revisiting some of those.

To book your spot in the upcoming Suture Workshop click here.

Tell us what your favorite thing about suturing is in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on Small Animal Talk on August 31st 2014 and has been reproduced with permission.