Buoyant, tenderhearted stories of a rural veterinarian’s days and nights on the job.
Sharp was a “city mouse,” as he says, with a small-animal practice when he purchased a country practice in Hillsboro, Ohio, a place where large animals would be a staple. So it is understandable that he encountered plenty of hairy and comical situations as he learned the ropes. Here, in 38 vignettes, all written with an easy hand (one can imagine him as a rather soothing soul, as comforting as an old pair of slippers) and without any straining at the lead, Sharp describes with equal poise the countryside around him—an atmospheric blend of stormy nights, dogwoods and redbuds, coffee cake and milk, farms tucked away in hollows—and the practice it demands: horse work, hog work, bull work, animals big enough to kill you. There are dicey situations, like the C-section he must administer on a cow, and there are faintly disgusting ones, like the decomposing fetus he extracts from another cow, a festering mass he must saw to pieces in utero, known as a bubbler in vet vernacular. There is a chauffeur-delivered cat, and there is the age-old conundrum, worthy of being a koan: “What do you do with a trapped skunk?” Sharp liberates a swan with its feet frozen into the ice, and he scratches his head in wonder at some of his clients: “I was still trying to understand the thinking process that tells you: Go ahead, stand behind a half-ton horse wearing steel shoes and cut his testicles off with a kitchen knife.” He doesn’t avoid the rare acts of cruelty he witnesses, but his work is much more likely to demonstrate an animal’s ability to provoke a human’s capacity for caring and affection.
Short, anecdotal material that animal-lovers can dip into with relish.