Did you know that Dr Chris Brown’s life once revolved around a female named Bridgette?
He’s not ashamed to admit it either – he was ‘obsessed’ with her. He would take her to shows and was proud to call her his own.
At this point it may be important to point out that she was a jersey cow and he was a schoolboy growing up on a dairy farm. But that early love of animals is what set Chris on the path to becoming the Bondi Vet and one of the hosts of TV’s The Living Room.
Here we chat to him about Bridgette, good pets for young children and the perils of working with kids and animals.
Q. You grew up on a dairy farm. What are your best memories of a childhood on a farm?
I was about 10 years old when I started working on the farm, and I have really fond memories of it – as a kid, it was really cool to have space and fresh air – I always felt really free. I remember having to milk cows by hand, which is really hard, as well as rounding up the cows and working the fence.
Q. Is it true that your first pet was a cow?
Yes! I was obsessed with cows as a kid, and one cow in particular – a jersey cow by the name of Bridgette. Bridgette was a couple of birthday and Christmas presents all in one and became the focus of my life when I was in primary school. I was so proud of her that I would take her to country shows to compete. The only problem was, Bridgette didn’t fit the criteria the judges were looking for and she never won any ribbons.
Q. Did you have a lot of early mornings on the farm? And do you enjoy a good sleep-in these days?
Morning is easily the most beautiful time on a farm but dairy farms take ‘early’ to new levels. I don’t miss the 4am starts one little bit, but I definitely prefer getting up for the sunrise rather than the moonrise!
Q. Did you always want to be a vet? Or did you have other ideas when you were a kid?
Yes and no. Whilst I’ve always been fascinated with how animals work and how you can make them better, there was a part of me that didn’t want to just blindly follow in Dad’s footsteps and become a vet. It took me trying out just about every other career (including being a pilot!) in order for me to come right back to where I started. So now, Dad and I regularly chat…and disagree over how we’d treat patients! Perfect!
Q. How many pets do you have?
Aside from the temporary patients that stay with me from time to time, I share my home with a kelpie called ‘Reg”.
Q. What pets would you recommend for a family with young children?
It’s always important to match your pets to your lifestyle and life stage – asking a pet to share a home with young children is a lot to ask! But there are a few that fit the brave bill – dogs like Cavalier King Charles, Cavoodles, Miniature Schnauzers and Pugs can step up, but don’t forget the humble moggie! Cats are incredibly caring and patient pets -you just need to get on their wavelength and understand that just because they’re not knocking you over with excitement, it doesn’t mean they don’t care.
Q. ‘Never work with animals or children’ … is there a good reason that’s a saying?
Not at all! In fact, I’d choose to work with them every single time. While sometimes things might take a little longer, it’s those moments of totally unpredictable magic (and occasional madness) that make every day worth it. They don’t read from a script, but they say so much with their actions, they don’t need to. Both animals and young children will also wee on you without warning (and have!), so maybe that’s what the saying was alluding to all along…
8. You’re working with Devondale farms on the launch of their fresh milk. Why is this important to you?
I’m not actually from Bondi. Instead I spent about half my childhood on the family farm in the Hunter Valley. As a result I have a life-long passion of dairy farms and am thrilled to support the Devondale Co-op and the production of its new fresh milk – not only does it deliver something fresh, healthy and nutritious to Australian families but also supports Australian dairy farmers. Local dairy farmers play a vital role in Australia’s milk production.
Dr Chris Brown is a spokesperson for the Devondale Co-op.
For more information visit www.devondale.com.au