I know what you’re thinking: “Great, another dog book by a veterinarian.” I hear you. I have a stack of dog books by veterinarians gathering dust with a mental post-it note on top saying “started to read, couldn’t finish, give to library.”
But when I heard that San Diego area veterinarian Dr. Jessica Voglesang was writing a book about her life as a veterinarian I immediately preordered a copy long before it was published.
That’s because I’ve been a huge fan of her writing since I began following her blog post on her website Pawcurious several years ago. Combining her veterinary experience with humor and rapier wit, Dr. V slices through the conventional thinking of the veterinary world and offers a fresh perspective regarding many of its sacred cows while also revealing honest, unvarnished stories of her experiences as a small animal vet.
All Dogs Go to Kevin: Everything Three Dogs Taught Me (That I didn’t Learn in Veterinary School) follows Dr. V as she decides to be a veterinarian, plows her way through the veterinary school at the University of California Davis, searches for a job, adopts dogs, finds a job at a small veterinary practice, gets married, and has kids.
In addition, she weaves in a number of personal stories that reveal the challenges she faced not only as vet, but also as a daughter, wife, and mother who dealt with many of the same obstacles we all face in our own lives.
And she does it with a funny, insightful, witty, and unflinchingly honest writing style that made it difficult for me to put the book down and caused me to laugh out loud more than once.
For example, the title of the book came from her clumsy attempt to tell her children that she had to put down their Golden Retriever Emmett. When she tried to tell them that Emmett went to heaven, her son thought she said he went to Kevin, which was understandable since their dad had a close friend named Kevin who lived nearby.
Struggling to clarify this misunderstanding, Dr. V told him that invisible angels took Emmett up to a place in the sky and he would never come back. Dr. V admits that her clumsy attempt to explain death to her son didn’t exactly work because he “spent next 3 months panicking every time he had a sniffle” and “jumped at every small noise, convinced an invisible angel was about to drag him off into the hereafter with unseen hands.”
Dr. V also gives us the inside scoop on some the less glamorous aspects of practicing veterinary medicine like:
- showing up at a fancy event with a noodle in her hair because a dog barfed up chicken noodle soup on her earlier that day
- listening to a woman berate her after performing her first spay surgery for not giving her dog a “bikini line incision”
- watching a woman’s dog poop out “a small purple G-string” that belonged to another woman her boyfriend had seen on the side
- giving a discount for an examination and dog food to a “widower” who told her he watched his wife die when she feel down a staircase in her wheelchair, only to see his wife waiting in his car after he left
But while Dr. V. provides plenty of funny anecdotes in her book, she also shares stories that will have you searching for the nearest box of Kleenex. Like the time she had to secretly clean a rug in their new house daily because their recently adopted dog Kekoa started peeing on because her husband didn’t tolerate any bad smells in the house.
She later discovered he was fully aware of the peeing problem and began cleaning up the rug after her because she did a “terrible job.” Turns out he tolerated the dog pee because Kekoa slept in their young daughter’s room to keep her from having nightmares.
The cherry on the top of this ice cream sundae of a book is Dr. V’s engaging, polished writing style. As the book reviewer for USA Today noted, “So descriptive and wonderfully unaffected is Vogelsang’s writing style, one imagines even her case notes would be interesting reads.”
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a stack of books to take to the library.