Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Review: All My Patients Kick and Bite (vet memoir, humor, MidWest)

All My Patients Kick and Bite: More Favorite Stories from a Vet’s Practice*, Jeff Wells, DVM (St. Martins Press, 243 pages, 2011, $24.99) (Prequel - All My Patients Have Tails: Stories from a Vet’s Practice, 2009)

Move Over, James Herriot!

Do you love vet memoirs like I do?

All My Patients was so heartwarming and entertaining that, after reading it in one day (the mark of a good book), I had to go out and purchase Dr. Wells’ previous memoir, All My Patients Have Tales: Favorite Stories form a Vet’s Practice** which may even be better (with 36 short chapters).

Twenty-four stories about a few dogs and fewer cats, but more about horses and cows and llamas and alpacas and even more about the human characters who belong to the animals - what vets really think about them but are too polite to say -add to the making of a dedicated veterinarian with a mixed practice in a small town in the Rockies. Well-balanced as to species to say the least!

Gently written by a gentle veterinarian, All My Patients will give you insight into a truly dedicated veterinarian who patiently and humorously suffers some of his clients and staff in order to improve the lives of his patients, the animals. Dr. Wells also writes a seasonal view of the Colorado Rockies and its gorgeous fall foliage, but more often, working solo to the light of truck headlights in a snow that is falling horizontally, trying to save a new calf - alone.

Snowstorm after Snowstorm?

Yes, snowstorms do figure hugely in these memoirs, especially at night, on a holiday, during a complicated birth in the Colorado Rockies but Dr. Wells also manages to convey to the reader how fortunate he is to be able to do the work he does. After all, how many of us receive heartfelt gratitude on a daily basis - from caring owners and even more caring kids. How many of us have the opportunity to see a patient recover quickly from a difficult birthing process or low blood sugar? How many of us seem to spend most of our time chasing the patient before we can catch him to examine him (especially as a newly practicing vet in front of skeptical, amused humans)?

What Vets Really Think About Their Clients

Most of the hilarious moments were shared only between vet and vet staff or between the vet and himself (and us). I’m sure the names have been changed to protect the guilty! We smile gently at the myriad of porcupine quills removed from the same trio of dogs twice in one day. Yes, they were Jack Russell terriers who finally got the best of their porcupine!

The Birth and Education of a Vet

Anyone interested in becoming a vet (or wishing they had become one) will enjoy the background of growing up on a hobby-farm in Iowa and starting a practice in South Dakota before moving to Colorado and eventually specializing in equines with just enough anecdotes about education, about why Dr. Wells became a vet, and about his family, to make this a longitudinal reading rather than just a collection of cute stories that go nowhere.

If you liked Dr. Nick Trout’s Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon, you will love All My Patients. It may take a few chapters to fall in love with All My Patients: if you find this is so, just skip ahead to a chapter that sounds more intriguing and you will be caught up in one great tale after another.

 I give Dr. Wells five bones to chew on!

Tomorrow: The prequel
*First reviewed in 2012.
**Purchased and mistakenly gave away!

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