Bite Me by Laura Lefkowitz

Bite Me

Tell-All Tales of an Emergency Veterinarian
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A collection of essays captures the unpredictable, demanding life of an emergency veterinarian.

Lefkowitz (Did My Dog Eat a Sock? Did My Dog Eat a Rock?, 2014), a veterinarian for more than 20 years, currently practices outside Boise, Idaho. From veterinary school onward, she’s been jotting down peculiar professional moments. In such a stressful career—vets are disproportionately likely to commit suicide, she notes—it’s important to look for the lighter side. Whether it’s a kitten swallowing a condom or a dog sipping piña coladas, she often shakes her head over owner negligence and animal mischief. “My job is never boring,” the author proclaims. The book’s careful thematic structure also reflects the fact that diagnoses tend to bunch together. On “The Night of Traumas,” for instance, she treated a farm cat with an amputated lower leg, a dachshund hit by a car, and a feline attacked by two dogs. An edgy chapter on sex cannily pulls together disparate anecdotes: canine penis problems, the collection of semen from farm animals, customers’ touchiness about pets’ gender, and a sexual harassment charge she filed against a male technician. Indeed, many stories involve people’s odd behavior rather than animals’; the author renders in italics the often sarcastic responses she keeps to herself. Although it was heartbreaking to give owners bad news, Lefkowitz maintained a detached perspective when euthanizing several animals a day. On the other hand, she gave her heart to the elderly Chihuahua and accident-prone poodle she adopted. Neatly weaving in autobiographical snippets, Lefkowitz remembers her father’s sudden death and her mother’s severe injuries when hit by a car. Family tragedies prepared her for emergency situations and taught her to seize the day: she and her partner traveled the world by bike, marveling at how African doctors coped with equipment inferior to that in American veterinary clinics. The 13 black-and-white photographs are a nice addition, but minor typos (for example, “supercede” for “supersede”) and punctuation issues (“cars ignition,” instead of “car’s ignition”) detract slightly from the overall quality. Apart from a somewhat cheesy final chapter punning on tails/tales, these fun, good-natured vignettes are well-chosen.

Witty stories about caring for animals that delicately balance comedy and pathos.

Pub Date: Dec. 20th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-692-60234-8
Page count: 244pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2016


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