We would like to wish our readers a Happy New Year and wish them a prosperous 2013. That is to say, assuming that the Mayan calendar isn't correct and the world didn't end on 21st December 2012. I hope I didn't write all those Christmas cards for nothing. If we have managed to make it this far, then 2013 will be the Chinese year of the snake. Traditionally this brings many challenges and disasters. Events take an undulating course, making it hard to predict trends and suiting those who are able to change and adapt rapidly.

In previous years of the snake, President Truman announced the development of the hydrogen bomb, Joseph Stalin died, Watson and Crick identified DNA, Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norkay reached the summit of Everest, The Queen was crowned, the Korean War armistice was signed, the first scheduled jet plane transatlantic service started, General Electric announced that all Communist employees would be fired, the first colour TV sets went on sale and England regained the Ashes (all 1953). In 2001 Erik Weihenmayer, of Boulder, Colorado became the first blind person to climb Everest. The tragic events of ‘nine-eleven’ unfolded, the US invasion of Afghanistan began, and the ipod was introduced. In 1965 the Vietnam War was in progress, with the USA sending 90,000 soldiers over, the national speed limit was set at 70mph, the Post Office tower became the tallest building in the UK, George Harrison had his tonsils removed and John Lennon passed his driving test. 1941 saw the world involved in conflict. Joseph Stalin became premier in Russia, and Churchill in Britain. Germany invaded Russia and Japan attacked the USA at Pearl Harbour, two events which eventually turned the tide of the war in the Allies' favour.

It's interesting to recall past events, but the Year of the Snake should warn us that we are in changeable times, with recovery from recession some way off. However, there have been encouraging signs in veterinary practices. Analysis from the USA shows that pets are as popular as ever, if not more so, and whatever else people are saving on, they are still prepared to spend on their pets, whether that be for luxury items and grooming, or for health services. Spending on pets in the USA topped spending on women's clothing by a healthy margin, and that has to be a good sign! A new veterinary school (at the University of Surrey) is due to open in 2014, so there is confidence that the demand for veterinary surgeons will still be strong. Look forward to 2013 and remember to ride those snaky undulations.

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In our equine section, David Rendell investigates a case of poor performance in a 16-year-old arab gelding and discusses the haematological findings in this unusual case. Despite intensive medical therapy a significant number of corneal ulcers require surgery. In this interesting case study Marian Matas and David Donaldson discuss the surgical options and describe the corneal graft procedure

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In our small animal section, Rosa Ragni and Alasdair Hotston-Moore guide us through kidney surgery, covering the indications, techniques and alternatives to surgery. In our last issue Sarah Warren described the indications for allergen-spcific immunotherapy and some protocols for its use. Here she looks at the response to treatment, some possible side effects and answers a few ‘FAQs’. We have a medicine case study from Shona Haydon leading us through a case of haematuria in a male dog, and Nicola Parry helps us through the steps in diagnosing hyperadrenocorticism, which isn't always just a case of the ACTH test. We also have self assessments in imaging nd medicine, while our online case study is from Nicola Parry and Brian Lohr. Visit our website to continue working through this case.

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