As the weather dips colder and the nights stretch longer, I tend to spend more time reading. Outside activity is crammed into shorter hours, leaving more time to curl up with books. Lately, I’ve been on an “animal stories” kick, as the download list in my Kindle will attest. In case you’re looking for something to read, here’s what I’ve been inhaling the past few weeks.
No Dogs in Heaven? Scenes from the Life of a Country Veterinarian, by Robert T. Sharp — I started with this one. The writing style is a little unpolished at times (I’m sorry, I can’t help but notice these things, I’m a writer) and doesn’t always follow any certain order, but it’s highly readable and enjoyable. The book is about a vet who takes on a mixed-animal practice in a small town in Ohio. Most of the stories deal with small animal veterinary practice, though there are some stories about large animal practice. The book is as much about people as animals, and it made me wish he could be my vet. There are some great stories, and it’s worth the read. It left me wanting more, so I moved on to the next one!
Close Encounters of the Bovine: Recollections of a Rural Veterinarian, by Rosalie Cooper-Chase — Obviously, here I was looking for what I didn’t get out of the first book, which was non-stop large animal vet stories. And my obsession with Glory Bee’s bee-hind is showing, too. This book is one story after another of assisted calf deliveries. I LOVED IT. Like the first one, it’s not a particularly polished book, but it was exactly what I wanted to read and it delivered (ha, pun). It opened my eyes to just what assisted calf deliveries can entail–which was both comforting and scary–and was also an interesting study of humans for the behavior of the various owners in each situation. If you have cows, or are just interested in good stories, you’ll enjoy this one as long as you don’t mind the occasional detailed story about cutting up a dead calf INSIDE the cow before taking it out. (I HAD NO IDEA THEY DID THAT. It’s called a fetotomy.)
Considering the Horse: Tales of Problems Solved and Lessons Learned, by Mark Rashid — I’m in love with this book. Or, possibly, in love with the author. Mark Rashid started working with horses when he was 10, working for “the old man” as he calls him who taught him to understand horses. Rashid went on to become a horse trainer in his own right, and from what I can figure, he is a natural horsemanship trainer, but he doesn’t like to call himself that. I like the way he explains horses–by telling stories about individual horses, teaching with stories instead of dry directions. I also like what seems to set him apart–he’s all about the individual horse, not some standard method to apply to every horse. I was particularly fascinated by the section of stories on hard-to-catch horses. (I wonder why.) I’ve read article after article on various natural horsemanship sites about hard-to-catch horses, with specific guidelines–do this and your horse will become easy to catch. Which makes you feel as if you failed if you can’t make them work. And they didn’t work. When I read this book, I felt like saying a big THANK YOU for someone finally telling me why. Shortcake isn’t Every Other Horse. Shortcake is Shortcake, and this book is filled with fascinating stories that demonstrate how to read your own horse and modify methods to work for their individual needs. (Specifically, a very good description and contrast of the “spoiled” horse vs. the “scared” horse, and why the same methods absolutely don’t work for both. Most hard-to-catch methods seem geared to the spoiled horse, which Shortcake is not, so no wonder they don’t work for her.) I’m finishing the book now–need I say that I love it? The way Rashid approaches building relationships with horses really speaks to me and feels right to my gut instincts about Shortcake.
Next on my reading list is All My Patients Have Tales: Favorite Stories from a Vet’s Practice, by Jeff Wells — because I’ve probably had enough calf birth stories for now and I’m missing cat and dog stories, but because I’m not done being in love with Mark Rashid, I also have Whole Heart, Whole Horse: Building Trust Between Horse and Rider waiting for me!
Any good “animal stories” book recommendations? What should I read next? (Edit to add: If everyone says Herriot, that isn’t going to help. Everyone knows that one! I’m looking for something I may not have discovered yet.)