Veterinarian Vogelsang pays tribute to the dogs that have played important roles in her life and professional practice.
The author punctuates the narrative with deaths, beginning with the untimely passing of her husband's best friend, Kevin. She writes movingly of how she tried but failed to comfort him and how their dog, Kekoa, succeeded. As a child, her family's dog, Taffy, offered her the companionship otherwise lacking in her life. Vogelsang explains that she was an introverted child with few friends who endured bullying. With high grades, her plan was to become a doctor; however, marriage to Brian, her college sweetheart, reinforced her decision to pursue a less stressful career as a veterinarian. Taffy's death occurred in the first years of their marriage. She made the fortunate choice of taking a job with CareClinic, a highly structured corporation with clinics across the country. This situation, she explains, suited her perfectly. One of her patients was Emmett, a 2-year-old dog with an allergy to fleas, whose owner wanted him euthanized rather than pay ongoing veterinarian expenses. She cajoled her husband into allowing her to adopt Emmett into their family, which now included a daughter and son. When her son was 2 and his sister 6, Emmett developed an untreatable cancer. His death left a painful gap in all their lives, and the parents had to explain it. Although they were not a religious family, they told the children about Emmett’s ascent to heaven. The title of the memoir is based on her son's confusion of heaven with the name of their family friend Kevin, who at that time was alive and well. “The pain of loss,” writes the author, “is the price we have to pay for all the wonder we accumulate building up to it.”
A feel-good, bittersweet memoir with few surprises.