A Country Practice

Scenes from the Veterinary Life

Douglas Whynott

North Point Press

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Chuck Shaw is a vanishing breed--an old-style veterinarian with a quarter of a century of experience who runs a "mixed practice" in rural New Hampshire, treating everything from house cats to milk cows. Week after demanding week, he and his associate, horse expert Roger Osinchuk, make house calls and farm calls, and spend sleepless nights on call, to see to the well-being of patients whose only common denominator is an inability to speak. But the practice is booming, and Chuck decides to take on a third associate, Erika Bruner, fresh out of veterinary school.

Whynott follows these three practitioners into the world of contemporary veterinary medicine, as a witness to memorable encounters and daily dilemmas. He watches as they play gynecologist to cows and horses, obstetrician to calves and colts, podiatrist to creatures whose feet are life and death to them. He captures the struggle to learn a difficult craft on the job, describes the confluence of skill and intuition that is the essence of diagnosis, and depicts the ongoing effort to balance the needs and desires of animals and owners without compromising his creed. A Country Practice is a vivid portrait of the rapidly changing face of an ancient profession.

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A Country Practice
1THE SURGEON1.On New Year's Eve of Chuck Shaw's first year in Walpole, New Hampshire, a few months after he had bought his veterinary practice, he got a call from a policeman in Bellows Falls, Vermont, across the Connecticut River. A dog had been found in a snowbank after he had been hit by a car--an HBC, as it is called--and the police wanted to bring him in to be euthanized.They met at the clinic, and Chuck took custody of the dog, but he didn't put him down. Maybe an owner would show up, he said. As a new vet with a small practice, Chuck held his patients dear.

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Reviews

Praise for A Country Practice

"I have always been an admirer of Doug Whynott's books, and A Country Practice is his best one yet. Whynott's rendering of these veterinarians' practice, the New England landscape in which they worked, and perhaps most important of all the animals themselves, is a wonder to behold. This is a tender and moving and beautiful book." --Bret Lott, author of A Song I Knew by Heart

Praise for Douglas Whynott's A Unit of Water, A Unit of Time:

"Finely crafted . . . Whynott's attention transcends his ostensible subject until it becomes a profound look at the human condition." --Peter Nichols, The San Francisco Chronicle

"Elegant . . . With understated grace, [Whynott] evokes a sense of maritime community as well as a fierce devotion to boats and a love of the sea . . . E. B. White would have approved of this quietly profound book: it's a real beauty." --Publishers Weekly

"The book is cheerful in its portraits of men engaged in work that satisfies in its difficulty, elegent details, and infallibly stirring results." --The New Yorker

"An affectionate, informative, yet lighter-than-air look at the life and work of Joel White . . . Delightful." --Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author

Douglas Whynott

Douglas Whynott is the author of Following the Bloom, Giant Bluefin, and A Unit of Water, A Unit of Time. He lives near Hanover, New Hampshire, and directs the M.F.A. writing program at Emerson College in Boston.

Douglas Whynott

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Available Formats and Book Details

A Country Practice
Scenes from the Veterinary Life
Douglas Whynott

Hardcover

Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
North Point Press
November 2004
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780865476479
ISBN10: 0865476470
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 304 pages
$24.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
North Point Press
November 2004
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429921619
ISBN10: 1429921617
304 pages
$7.99
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North Point Press

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