A veterinarian's account of his first year of private practice in Choctaw County, Ala. In 1963, not long after receiving his D.V.M. from Alabama's Auburn University, 28-year-old McCormack and his wife, Jan, pack up their two small children, their dog and cat, and all their worldly possessions, and set off to start a veterinary practice--the first ever in rural Choctaw County. This account tells of the many trials and tribulations of a country animal doctor and the importance of diplomacy and a sense of humor. McCormack quickly becomes a master at both. ""No gesture carries as much public relations benefit as 'bragging on' [complimenting] the dog"" when a visitor first arrives at a farm, he says--even if the farmer hates his own dog. We also learn much about the traditions and customs of the deep South in the 1960s, where many people barely scrape by, making a meager living off the land. Called upon at all hours of the day and night, and often working under far from ideal conditions, McCormack attends to every imaginable veterinary emergency: lassoing and neutering a 900-pound hog; attending to cows' breech births, uterine problems, and retained placentas; amputating the gangrenous leg of a farmer's favorite hunting dog; de-scenting orphaned skunks; and tending to overindulged pets that range from a vicious Chihuahua with tonsillitis to a pet sheep with a blocked urinary tract. McCormack's humor and characterizations of southern small-town folk are rich and colorful, but his descriptions of medical conditions, operations, and bodily functions are often too frank--and sometimes downright revolting. McCormack's publisher is presenting him as an American James Herriot, but this lacks the right touch of sentiment to be of broad appeal.