Sunday, December 27, 2015

Book Review: All My Patients Have Tales (vet memoir, humor, MidWest)

All My Patients have Tales: Favorite Stories from a Vet’s Practice*, by Jeff Wells, DVM (St. Martin’s Press, 2009, 240 pages)

Hooked on This Book

I’m dog-centric: I usually want to skip over all the non-dog stories in veterinarian memoirs but Jeff Wells has me hooked on his book! I loved the non-dog chapters just as much as the dog chapters!

Too Entertaining to Put Down

Thirty-six stories about animals and their newly minted vet (who is only human) tell us more about the vet than the animals: each story begins with a couple of paragraphs about a fact of veterinary medicine or the practice thereof, jumps into a well-drawn event/incident/story in which our vet triumphs on the outside while questioning himself on the inside, and leaves us with a thought-provoking yet humorous few closing lines.  The new vet’s life is a trying life, trying to put on a knowing face and trying to convince the clients of the 75- year-old vet that you really are a vet,  even if you look like you are in junior high school.

As my readers might recall, I love a book with short chapters than can be read in any order. Tales almost fits the bill with short stories of varying length and only a few of which should be read in order (but not necessarily).

My Favorites?

Ah, that is a hard question. Looking over the table of contents to decide which stories I would read again first (I would read all of them again eventually), these jumped out at me (but it was a hard choice): The one about the Yak attack and the one about the biker chihuahua, and also the ones about hogs and cows and horses and dogs – oh my! And a few lovely charcoal drawings that just hit the spot.

Why a Vet?

From growing up and going to school in Iowa to a first practice in southeastern South Dakota to an equine practice in Colorado, Tales has it all – suspense, hilarity, and sensitivity.  One book I am glad to have read. This is a book that is not just about funny patients and funnier vets but also about being a vet and feeling fortunate to be outdoors at sunset. This is a book that not only tells you what it is like to be a mixed animal vet but shows you what it is like. If you don’t want to be a vet after reading Tales, I’ll eat my hat!

*I checked this book out of my public library – large print size was all they had, but that was perfect! For other vet memoirs see Tennessee Tails, Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow, Tails from the Tail End, and, of course, yesterday.  

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