Thereby Hangs a Vet’s Tale: 5 Books About Animal Doctors

You want to know who's a good person? Ask the Animals. This is also the title of Bruce Coston's book, where he mixes humor and pathos from his weekly newspaper columns on being a veterinarian. Along with the tear-jerking scenario of putting to sleep a faithful friend, there is the hilarity of diagnosing a chinchilla and a consult by telephone with a woman concerned about the viability of her dinner egg. In preparation for The Accidental Veterinarian, here are some heartwarming stories about vets and their patients.

Many pet owners wonder why "people doctors" can't be as empathetic and good advocates as their local vet. Perhaps it's because it's harder to get into veterinary school than med school. Whatever the reason, Sarah Boston considers herself a Lucky Dog. A veterinary surgeon specializing in cancer, Boston herself is diagnosed with the disease and puts her experiences as a vet and her self-deprecating humor to work in order to cope. An engaging narrative keeps this from being another serious-illness memoir.

In his delightful fiction followup to Tell Me Where It Hurts, Nick Trout sets veterinary pathologist Dr. Cyrus Mills on an apparent path to disaster: under professional scrutiny, Mills returns to his hometown to sell his late father's veterinary practice and pay his legal bills. To say Mills has daddy issues is like saying the practice has a cash-flow problem: not quite descriptive enough. Still, The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs is recommended by none other than Debbie Macomber, so you know it will turn out okay. In the week the story unfolds, Cyrus romances a waitress, midwifes both a cat and her owner, and reunites a dog and her family. Definitely a tonic after some of those feminist dystopias I've been recommending.

For those interested in the more zany, there's the science fiction romp Super Extra Grande. Jan Amos Sangan Dongo is an interplanetary vet whose height is ideal for his enormous patients, who are often at least the size of a respectable asteroid.  The good doctor gets called in when two crucial ambassadors, to whom he is romantically linked, are swallowed by an amoeba slightly larger than New Mexico. Sangan Dongo's exploits allow for much social humor and wordplay, and read much like a Cuban Douglas Adams. 

All this leads to the forthcoming The Accidental Veterinarian: Tales From A Pet Practice by Philipp Schott. Dr. Schott, much in the style of aforementioned Nick Trout, regales us with tales both humorous and heartwarming, from his veterinary school interview to his current companion-animal practice. For those feeling practical, he also provides tips on what to do when one fish is trying to swallow another or you have to give a cat a pill, besides resorting to un-librarian-like language. 

Got more tales of those who care for those with tails? Tell us in the comments.

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