It may be the fate of any veterinarian’s memoir to languish in the long shadow of James Herriot, but author Brock’s humorous reminiscences will fit the big boots reserved specifically for Texas veterinarians. Inspired to become an animal doctor after seeing too many horses die of colic, Brock studied at Texas A&M and set up his practice in Lamesa (the “middle of nowhere” affectionately cited in the title). Gifted with a folksy storytelling style (not unlike Grit magazine but with occasional curse words), Brock recounts, in nonchronological order, his more memorable (and, more often, funnier) cases, as well as encounters with peculiar creatures of the two-legged variety. Horses do seem to predominate in the narrative. There’s the one owned by a menacing tribe of bikers, on whom Brock paid a midnight call to sew up the equine’s laceration. At the other end of the size scale, an eccentric client asked the author to operate on a pet mouse with a tumor larger than the animal itself. We learn that cows, far from being passive and tractable, can turn violently on intruders with medical bags. In a late chapter, Brock lists his wounds and scars, proving that veterinary medicine (at least in Texas) is not for weenies. Otherwise, details about Brock’s family life and extracurricular activities only come in incidental fragments. Readers still in major depression from the end of Marley and Me (2005) should know that tales of animal suffering and mercy killing are far outnumbered by positive outcomes (including an unnamed pig who survived his own euthanasia procedure—three times—to become a 4H winner). Still, the author pays sentimental tribute to the bonds between critters (horses, especially) and their people. An unexpected bonus is a touching guest eulogy (a masterful piece of prose) for Randy—the resident horse of Brock’s clinic—contributed by intern Emily Berryhill.
You don’t have to live in the Lone Star State to enjoy these companionable tales of a country vet.