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TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER: "Patients Kick and Bite" offers humor, charm, little heartbreak

 

 

Your job is no piece of cake.

You have to work hard at it. It requires serious thought, dexterous fingers, good eyes, and fast feet. You need tact, patience, negotiating skills, and the soul of a Zen master.

Your job takes practice. Not everybody can do it.

But your job probably doesn't require exploration of a mule's backside. Nobody with horns chases you around your workplace. You don't have to dodge llama spit and nobody poops on your desk.

But those are things author Jeff Wells, D.V.M. deals with, and in his new book "All My Patients Kick and Bite," you'll read about the fury and the furry.

Back when he was a young veterinarian-to-be, Jeff Wells had plenty of support from senior doctors and teachers. When he needed an x-ray, he called someone. When difficult phone calls had to be made, there were other students in the rotation who were just as likely to do the deed.

There were lots of people to lean on for support back when Wells was almost-a-veterinarian.

But once he established his own Colorado practice, Wells was the one in charge. Even his veterinary assistant, Christie, made him take the blame when things went wrong because of a miscall.

Life as a vet, you see, can be as wild and wooly as the animals one helps.

When faced with an overly-protective herd of cattle that react to the bawl of a newborn calf, for instance, a veterinarian needs the skill of, not only an Olympic runner, but of a pole-vaulter, too.

When a customer is too eager to barter horse-as-payment, for example, a veterinarian needs to keep in mind all prior broken bones and bitten fingers.

And speaking of horses, it's never a good idea to predict foaling dates, but it's always good to use a vet for advice, and not the Internet.

Veterinarians fall in love with their patients. They mourn when sheep die, they cringe when cats hurt, and they celebrate new life. They know that human medicine can sometimes help animals (and vice versa), and that dogs are sometimes woman's best friend, too.

They know that, when it comes to animal babies, sometimes holding a human one of your own is the sweetest thing ever.

Speaking of sweet, yep, that word pretty much sums up this book.

"All My Patients Kick and Bite" is one of those memoirs that you can read fast, but you won't want to. It's the kind of book that pet owners will soak up because author and veterinarian Jeff Wells obviously loves animals as much as we do.

Wells also good-naturedly holds a mirror up to pet owners, showing us our loving pet-centric-ness in all its glory.

There's humor in this book and plenty of charm but not a lot of heartbreak, which sets it apart from others.

That also makes it appropriate for readers ages 12-to-grandma. So if you're looking for something you can all enjoy, grab it quick. "All My Patients Kick and Bite" is a book to chomp into.

"All My Patients Kick and Bite," by Jeff Wells, D.V.M., copyright 2012 by St. Martin's Press, is 243 pages and sells for $24.99.