A patent attorney, a dog and meaning in the job

4 October 2022 is World Animal Day and we can reflect on how the strong bond with our canine friends has changed our lives in unexpected ways. For instance, it can sometimes be hard to find deeper meaning in a desk job. That extra inspiration is often found in personal experiences away from the desk. I would like to share the story of my dog Mo and how he gave me inspiration and deeper meaning in my work as a patent attorney working in the field of animal health.

AKP - Mo the dog


Mo was a rescue greyhound that came from the races in Ireland. Greyhounds no longer deemed fit to race are either put down or exported to willing rehoming charities around Europe. Mo was one of the lucky few to escape the races alive. When I first saw him, he had a large gash across his face and his eye was constantly weeping. It looked like he had been kicked in the face with the full force of the greyhound running in front of him. For the first few weeks he needed regular antibiotic eye drops while the wound healed.

The first days in his new apartment were very difficult. He stood shivering in the hallway for what seemed like hours. Clearly abused for his entire life at the races, he found it difficult to trust anyone or anything new, but he was always gentle. It took about a year for his sweet and playful personality to shine through as he finally forgot about his old life. It probably would have taken longer if not for the pandemic, which gifted us with more bonding time to accelerate his healing. He had become family and brought me great happiness during the worst of the pandemic. Mo lived his new life to the full for about six months more. Then he died very suddenly.

During his final walk around the neighbourhood he stayed unusually close to me. I let him into the garden when we returned home and I returned a few minutes later to what looked like a crime scene. Mo stood still, paralysed with fear. Luckily a vet just up the road was open, and he was seen within an hour. The initial diagnosis – he had eaten a large rodent that disagreed with him. But I suspected it was more serious and the animal hospital was his next stop.

Mo was rushed into the hospital on a bed by a team of vets with an urgency normally reserved for humans. He was in good hands. But an ultrasound and biopsy sadly confirmed he had canine alimentary lymphoma; an incredibly aggressive rare cancer of the digestive system.

There were no obvious signs other than his slightly lower appetite for a few days. The tumour had grown very large, silently displacing his organs over a week or two, until it reached a critical mass and he fell apart in a matter of hours.

The vet pleaded to put Mo to sleep. I suspect this was because many owners usually want to try everything to keep their pets alive for as long as possible, unaware of the pain their pet is in. But it was clear that he could not be saved and needed immediate relief. The vet left us alone for a final goodbye, a moment that many other dog owners will be all too familiar with, and then he was put to rest.

An unexpected coincidence came at work a few days later. A good client asked for our input on a deal that would bring a promising new veterinary drug to major markets worldwide. The drug was for treating – you guessed it – canine alimentary lymphoma. What would have previously felt like a routine task was suddenly a whole lot more. And the feeling spread to many other cases too. It became easier to imagine how other inventions could improve the life of pets and buy them more time with their families.

I know that my contribution as a patent attorney cannot compare to the scientists who devise new veterinary innovations and the vets who use them to treat our pets. However, as I obviously believe that the patent system helps to protect and encourage those innovations, I am more pleased than ever to be working in the field of animal health.

Learn more on The Greyhound Trust website.