A graphic, sometimes gruesome account of the training, both theoretical and hands-on, that Loretta Gage (coauthor Nancy Gage, her sister, is a freelance writer) received during her four-year stint at veterinary school. When Gage began attending Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1985, she was, she says, one of the most insecure students in class—but also one of the most determined. A 34-year-old, two-time divorcÇe with little in the way of financial resources, she had set out to fulfill her childhood ambition of becoming a vet. She and her classmates faced the arduous task of intensive study and memorization, long hours, and continual personal sacrifice—all the while withstanding humiliation by bullying professors. And they learned the necessity of hardening their hearts as they euthanized healthy animals (many of them racetrack castoffs) and cut them open for surgical practice, or stitched up animals maimed solely for learning purposes. Gages's ambivalence about the ethics of such training methods ``was a war that would rage all through vet school and on into the practice of veterinary medicine.'' There are personal accounts here, too, which help break up the academic material: Gage's failed relationship with a blacksmith; her successful one with a stray cat she adopted; and the loss of her best friend, Laura, who died unexpectedly while Gage was away at school. Well intentioned, but Gage is no James Herriot, and this may appeal primarily to those interested in the field of veterinary medicine.
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