A veterinarian reflects on a life enriched by horses, cats, and dogs in this debut memoir.
Carlson grew up in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago, but in 1968, when she was 15, she visited her adored uncle, Tom, in Fort Collins, Colorado, and became smitten with the West. She later attended Colorado State University and received her degree in teaching physical education. During her senior year, she met her future husband, Earl, then in his freshman year at the veterinary college. Inspired by Earl’s example, she went back to school to acquire the science credits necessary to apply to the veterinary school; later, she began the training that would lead to her opening an all-feline private veterinary practice in Fort Collins. However, the heart of her story rests with the animals—particularly those who were part of her own family, from her first cat, Pruney, to her most recent dog, Ivy, as well as a series of beloved horses. Two of these horses, Franny and Marcie, were inseparable to the degree that they had to be ridden together to remain calm. In a momentary lapse of judgment, Carlson took Marcie out alone: “All of a sudden, while standing still, Marcie bucked just once, and I flew off into outer space...then she bolted and ran off through the streets of Fort Collins.” Earl later found Marcie at home; she’d returned to Franny. Plenty of other animal antics are on full, delightful display throughout these pages—and so is the pain of losing them, always affectingly related by the author. There’s also considerable space devoted to the rigors of veterinary school, as well as Carlson’s endurance of and recovery from hip surgery. Throughout the book, she pulls no punches when relating difficulties that she’s faced over the years, including her discord with members of her late husband’s family. She compensates for some confusing chronological whipsawing during the early chapters with an engaging overall narrative, which includes numerous tales of other people’s four-legged companions.
A scattershot but edgy memoir, marked by wit and poignancy.