The Veterinarian's Touch: Profiles of Life among Animals

Overview

Since James Herriot first began his practice almost a century ago, new technologies and the changing concerns of animal owners have dramatically altered the veterinarian's world. Through a kaleidoscope of contrasting portraits, Lee Gutkind introduces an equally impassioned lot of doctors and their sometimes eccentric patients. Animal lovers will love this journey from tony, expensive Manhattan practices to mucky farms, from cutting-edge animal hospitals to zoos and aquatic ...

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Overview

Since James Herriot first began his practice almost a century ago, new technologies and the changing concerns of animal owners have dramatically altered the veterinarian's world. Through a kaleidoscope of contrasting portraits, Lee Gutkind introduces an equally impassioned lot of doctors and their sometimes eccentric patients. Animal lovers will love this journey from tony, expensive Manhattan practices to mucky farms, from cutting-edge animal hospitals to zoos and aquatic parks.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gutkind notes that some 45% of cat owners and 25% of dog owners invite their pets into their beds at nightexactly the (people) audience that will be charmed by his depiction of veterinarians, whom he considers more humanistic than physicians. Focusing on a clinic on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and its practice, devoted to household pets; on the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania, which performs extraordinary equine surgery and the Pittsburgh Zoo and the relatively new fields of zoo and wildlife veterinary, Gutkind (Stuck in Time) takes us into remarkably caring and occasionally heroic lives. Also disarming, he treats pet owners with the same respect he does animals here, even the woman who spent $50,000 for treatments that extended her cat's life by three years and a dog owner who persists in feeding her ailing pet its preferred, unhealthy diet of chicken and kiwi. And although it's outside the province of his book, Gutkind briefly discusses medical research on animals, though he sidesteps the controversy. He may not be the next best thing to James Herriot, but he knows how to tell animal tales that are endearing without being cloying. (Aug.)
Booknews
The author presents portraits of veterinarians caring for a variety of animals in diverse locations, from a Vermont Chihuahua trapped in zippered overalls to a herniated reindeer in a Pittsburgh zoo. The focus is on the vets and their daily life, motivations, and eccentricities, as well as the way they handle both their patients and their patients' human owners. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
Admiring, vivid portraits of a handful of veterinarians from Gutkind (Stuck in Time, 1993, etc.).

Start with an obvious though essential point, suggests Gutkind: Veterinarians deal with patients who can't speak to them of their pains and worries. So vets, the good ones, have to communicate in other ways. They practice the ancient art of the laying on of hands, offering a gentle caress, a soft murmur, establishing a link that Gutkind finds missing in much human medicine: a devotion to the psychological well-being of the patient (though it might be argued that doctors of human medicine—the good ones, at any rate—haven't lost that touch). As Gutkind makes the rounds of various veterinary climes—from tony, high-fee Manhattan practices to mucky farms, from cutting-edge animal hospitals to zoos and exotic wildlife menageries—he encounters an extraordinary group of doctors, all of whom possess quick wits (on isolated farms, one must excel at improvisation when treating very sick patients), special diagnostic skills (animals often mask symptoms—in the wild it is best to hide one's handicaps), and a shrewd awareness of the people, often superstitious or eccentric, in the picture. He tags along as the vets go about their tasks, watching as they repair a reindeer's hernia and diagnose a racehorse's displaced palate. He visits a village of HIV-infected chimps (they enjoy watching Geraldo on TV); he witnesses gut-wrenching scenes in ICUs; he mulls over the act of euthanasia and the question of whether vets should specialize or remain "doctors for all seasons, all maladies, all species and breeds."

Gutkind did his homework and has come away with a good story. His writing, while it can be dramatic, has the same soothing, inspiriting effect on the reader that a veterinarian—a good one—has on a patient.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805058116
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/15/1998
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Lee Gutkind, editor of the popular new journal Creative Nonfiction, is the award-winning author of eight books. He writes for the New York Times Magazine and teaches at the University of Pittsbugh. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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