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.