A readable look at life as seen through the eyes of a busy veterinarian.

This debut memoir skips from subject to subject, as Idaho resident Stephens (affectionately called “Dr. Jack”) shares information and opinions about animals, health care and the relationship between the two. Along the way, he’s assertive and self-deprecating by turns and often vastly entertaining. After he underwent throat-cancer surgery, he was forced to communicate primarily by writing things down, so here, in chatty, fact-filled prose, he draws upon his personal experience, informed by medical expertise, to share a wealth of anecdotes and advice. Early in his career, he realized that some clients couldn’t afford to treat their pets’ illnesses, and so, in 1980, he became involved in establishing pet insurance as a viable option. He includes a useful checklist for evaluating insurance coverage, as well as a list of recommended websites and readings. He also tells of his involvement with other animal-saving projects, including NASCAR tie-ins to benefit pet adoption and Pups on Parole, a Nevada program that pairs shelter dogs with women prisoners. In another section, he weighs in on hunting: He’s in favor of it, when it’s regulated, and explains the practical advantages of hunting for controlling wild animal populations. Despite having a household full of pets, he confesses his surprise at forming special bonds with small dogs he once scorned as “coyote bait…those yippy, yappy lapdogs.” He also details his difficult choices regarding his stage 4 cancer diagnosis, an experience that he says proved the healing power of his miniature pinscher, Spanky; afterward, he writes, “Prescribe Pets, Not Pills” became his motto, and he describes how companion animals can evoke psychological and biochemical transformations. “Take it from this former macho guy—indulge and bond with your pet,” he writes.

A cogent, engaging celebration of the human/animal connection that may persuade readers to rush out and adopt a pet.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1475159202

Page Count: 236

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?


Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?