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I was worried about one of my pets, as I always do, when my mother said to me in frustration “Why don’t you just give away all your pets and. . .”

“Be miserable?” was my reply.  Because despite my anxieties on their behalf (are they sick, are they happy, are they getting all that they need????) I can’t imagine living a life without the little critters. 

Though I am not one of those delusional people who thinks of my pets as kids, they are certainly an important part of my family.  I smile even while getting mauled by the dogs each day when I get home (what human would ever greet you with such happiness?).   When away from home I cannot sleep, ironically, because it’s too quiet.  Though a purring cat can be loud, it sure is comforting.  Being flanked on either side by warm felines bodies leaves some folks cold, but I’ll take the subsequent crick in the neck for a few glorious moments of a group cat nap. 

Though I spend a lot of time attending to my pets’ needs, as an chronic worrier, it’s nice to have a respite from my own issues, even if it means worrying a little about someone other than myself.   When the dogs need to be fed or walked or the litter box cleaned, there is no time for self involvement – and that’s ultimately healthier than the alternative.

I’m not the first to delight in the soothing affect of pets. Ask any pet owner and you’ll get a litany of reasons why their pets are good for them (you may even get melodramatic or just highly dramatic accounts of noble acts and miracles, depending on the pet owner).  And more recently science has supported such anecdotal evidence with studies that show pets lower blood pressure, decrease depression and increase feelings of social support in those who live alone.

So it’s not surprising that Bruce Goldstein’s therapist suggested that Goldstein, a manic depressive, get a dog.  Where medicine and therapy failed, a tiny black lab puppy named Ozzy succeeded. 

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I would have bought this book for other reasons – it has a cute dog on the cover, it’s about veterinary medicine – but the real reason I bought this book is a little more selfish.  The author, Nick Trout is a veterinarian and he did surgery on my childhood dog almost 20 years ago.  That dog was 5 years old and for a while my parents thought they would have to euthanize him.  But the surgery was successful and he lived another 9 years.

A small part of me wanted to see him in print, but his was not a sensational surgery or an emergency one.  This book features both types of surgery, after all, who wants to read about the routine and mundane?  That’s just not exciting and probably doesn’t sell many books.

The format of this book condenses 25 years of experience (including many patients and owners) into a “day in the life” of Dr. Nick Trout.  It’s an exhausting day for him, but a vastly interesting one for the those of us reading.  Of course you must have an interest in all things veterinary.  This book is not for mere animal lovers; it’s not James Herriot (though he never shied away from the gross).  There is some technical jargon which, if it’s confusing, you can probably skim, but for those of us who love anatomy it’s very intriguing.

There is one particular patient whose overarching story connects the book and you will get attached to her and her owner.  In between there are dozens of other patients and scenarios, some lighthearted, some tragic, some funny and some just plain sad.  Dr. Trout’s experience is vast and though he has the brain of a surgeon he has a heart big enough to hold all the patients he cares for.

Cover ImageI can say (somewhat truthfully) that Mary Roach gave me this book. 

OK, so the author didn’t give it to me.  I almost bought this book a while ago because I work with a woman named Mary Roach.  Since she’s our resident expert on all things medicine, and mysterious about everything else in her life, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she secretly authored this book (of course the author photo would have been doctored har har). When I told her this, she not only laughed, she said she had the book and brought it in for me. 

I wasn’t really sure if I was actually going to like this book. I’ve read many treatises on obscure, seemingly interesting topics and most of them, though well intended, fail miserably to be interesting.

Not so this book.

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