Not long after I received my undergraduate degree in psychology, I got my first job in vocational rehabilitation. That lead to a lifelong career in the field, including a Master’s Degree from Auburn University in Vocational Evaluation and jobs in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Colorado. You might say I’ve been somewhat of a gypsy moving around but no matter where I settled the field of vocational rehabilitation always found me and pulled me back.
One of the books I remember reading back in the day was Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do by Studs Terkel. It was a fascinating read for me consisting of interviews with people about work, how they liked it, what it entailed, how they got started with it. That book was instrumental in helping develop my interest in jobs, what they require and how the people who perform them pursue their various vocational paths.
It was this mindset that I brought to Drinking From The Trough by Mary Carlson, DVM. While I have no personal interest in pursuing any additional degrees and I’ve left the field of vocational evaluation, I’m still interested in what draws a person into a particular line of work, what the requirements are and who is best suited for a particular job. Although Dr. Carlson’s book doesn’t provide much insight into the nuts and bolts of being a veterinarian, it does offer some insight into the passion she, and probably most others in the field, have for animals and their well being. Her stories about being at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colorado also brought back some fond memories for me of living out west even though I’ve since returned to the deep south. Below is the review I submitted for the publisher in exchange for an advance copy of the book:
Thank you to NetGalley and She Writes Press for providing an advanced digital copy of Drinking from the Trough, A Veterinarian’s Memoir by Mary E. Carlson, DVM in exchange for an honest review. The book, a compilation of vignettes, encompasses her experiences first as a physical education teacher in middle school through her study and work as a veterinarian. It closes as she prepares to embark on the next chapter of her life, preparing to attend law school in Texas.
Each chapter is a brief glimpse into some particular experience Dr. Carlson has throughout a 30 plus year period. Many of the chapters deal with particular animals she has had beginning with her first cat she got from her younger sister and include several dogs and horses who were part of her family along the way. While they are all experiences of Dr. Carlson’s, they are only loosely connected and, as such, it is an easy book to pick up, read a chapter, put down and then pick up some time later without losing any continuity.
Some of the chapters deal with particular animal illnesses and experiences she has had and, as such, provide cursory insight into the challenges and experiences that make up a career as a veterinarian. Others deal more with her love for several animals of her own and how their existence impacted her life and family. Throughout the book her love of animals and her recognition of their importance in her life is a constant theme.
In addition, some of Dr. Carlson’s struggles in terms of family, both with her own and with her inlaws make up several of the chapters. These bits of information make it more than just a book that would appeal to people, particularly young people, who might be curious about the responsibilities and experiences of being a veterinarian.
I would give this book three and a half stars if that were possible, so I am rounding it up to four. It has some value for young people who may be looking for introductory information regarding being a veterinarian. The chapters dealing with family prevent it from being strictly an exploration of a career path and make it difficult to determine the target audience for whom this book would have the most appeal.
As I mention in the review, I’m still trying to determine who might best be served by reading this book. It has information that might trigger further study about veterinary medicine by young people doing career research. It also has interest for anyone who has a love of animals as she highlights her relationship with a wide variety of critters who have shared her life over the years. Where the book digresses is in her conversation regarding her feelings toward family and in-laws. There are passages that hint at frustrations and disappointments, but which go unresolved within the book. I found myself wanting to explore how those emotions and disappointments affected her career goals. Were they in any way pertinent to why she followed the paths she did? These questions may have more to do with me and my personal interests than the reading public in general.
Regardless, here’s hoping you find something to pique your interest and as always, Happy Reading!