Vet tells animal stories with compassionate voice

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 22, 2008

“Tell Me Where It Hurts,” by Dr. Nick Trout. Broadway Books. 2008. 286 pp. $22.95.
By Mary Rice Patterson
For the Salisbury Post
Dr. Nick Trout tells of his life as he starts a hectic day at the Angell Animal Medical Center in “Tell Me Where It Hurts.”
The structure of his book is set up for a day, but through flashbacks he tells much of his life as an animal surgeon. His main character, Sage, is a 10-year-old shepherd who will die without emergency surgery for a serious stomach condition. Many surgeries are performed on dogs because they have eaten some strange object such as a shoestring.
Trout writes in an easy, conversational style, explaining many heartrending situations with great understanding. He gives the reader an insight into the care a vet has for his patients and their owners, for many of whom pets are like family. Owners will expect all efforts possible to be taken to relieve their beloved pet’s pain and extend its life.
Other medical doctors might regard veterinary medicine as crude, plodding and nebulous. However, as the reader follows this story, he will be surprised at the knowledge, expertise and patience expended in each diagnosis.One question owners are forced to answer is “How much is my pet worth to me?”
The doctor does discuss the cost of procedures which sound like human’s problems, such as hip replacements, cardiac pacemakers, radiation treatments and chemotherapy. For Sage, the bill was coming up on $4,000.
When comparing pets to children and all of the carefree, unconditional love we give them, chances are they will outlive us. We believe we will not have to bury them. Not so our pets. We lose them and life goes on.
In talking to a colleague, he asks the secret for his success. Trout answers, “Closed circuit TV! They’re everywhere in this treatment area, kennels, intensive care, recovery, even in surgery.”
Where does one view this? Trout continues, “The waiting room! The owners appreciate that this is real and they’re not watching an episode of ER.” Wow.
Trout could be compared to the Dog Whisperer. He graduated from veterinary school at the University of Cambridge, England, in 1989, and is a diplomate of the American and European Colleges of Veterinary Surgeons and a staff surgeon at the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.
He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, daughters and two dogs, Meg, their yellow labrador, and Sophie, a Jack Russell terrier.
Mary Rice Patterson lives in China Grove.