A seasoned veterinarian shares some memorable cases.
With several decades of experience as a veterinary surgeon, the author has seen his share of animal emergencies, which he now structures as parts of one fictional day, a tactic that detracts from, rather than adds to, the urgency of his narrative. It begins at 2:47 a.m., when Trout is roused out of bed to perform emergency stomach surgery on Sage, a ten-year-old German shepherd who is the sole companion of an aging widower. Next up is a particularly unusual case, a hermaphroditic boxer named Thor who has begun secreting female hormones. Later in the morning the vet helps a family decide whether or not to put a beloved pet to sleep. This sparks a lively discussion of euthanasia, a high point in the book. A 40-pound cat aptly named Chunky Bear inspires Trout’s musings on canine and feline obesity, an epidemic nearly as dire as the same among humans. Just past noon, the vet acquires David, a tag-along “shadow” with veterinary aspirations from a nearby high school, and enters the world of small animal plastic surgery. With Tinkerbell, Trout is cleaning up scar tissue from an earlier cancer surgery, but her case causes him to pause and pontificate on more cosmetic procedures, such as ear cropping and tail docking, which he opposes. Later in the afternoon, he embarks on a canine hip replacement. Finally, he ends his day with a cat named Snowball, who managed to swallow one of her own teeth. Trout brings up some interesting ethical issues, but readers looking for a heart-warmer will be bored by these tangents, and intellectuals will feel belittled by the tongue-in-cheek prose and frenetic pacing.
Steadfast animal lovers might be willing to overlook Trout’s inconsistent tone, but he’s unlikely to garner a wide audience.