by Robert Miller
Double-duty again, on an old book I thought I'd never find. But just a few weeks after I mentioned it here, it came up on a swap site and I got my own copy! So I sat down and read it again. Very enjoyable.
The author set up his veterinary practice during the 1950's in the Conejo Valley of California, near Thousand Oaks and not too far from Los Angeles. There were quite a few wild-animal parks and circuses in the locale- most of which trained animals for use in films and performances. Also lots of ranches and farms, so not only did he treat the usual small clientele of pet cats and dogs, as well as ordinary livestock, but also tigers, elephants, chimpanzees and other exotic beasts. Miller's stories are pretty brief but well-written and often amusing. Funny incidents that happen, and also pranks he used to play on co-workers and sometimes even clients that annoyed him! I was surprised to find this time that I recognized quite a few other people mentioned in the book- something I don't remember noticing before, perhaps I hadn't read of them yet back then. James Herriot, my favorite-ever animal author, was Miller's contemporary and wrote the forward. Miller mentions treating a sick lion that belong to Ralph Helfer (who wrote Zamba and Modoc). He also several times tells of interactions with George Keller, treating his big cats for poisoning and other ailments. It always makes me smile to come across people I've "met" in a previous book in the one I'm currently reading. I have the same response when I find characters discussing books I know from other fiction, but even more so when it's real-life people I come across in non-fiction. Have you ever had that happen? Does it give you a little thrill of recognition, too?
Rating: 3/5 ........ 181 pages, 1985