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Title: Drinking from the Trough
Author: Mary Carlson
Type: Memoir
Published: 2018
Pages: 278

“I had to be very diplomatic on such a touchy subject. I learned early on that everything would work out as long as I could educate the guys about their cats. That included taking their reluctance regarding neutering seriously, thus lessening their self-induced trauma. Once they realised that their own manliness would be intact – and so would their cat’s, except for the cat’s ability to breed – the lightbulb would go on in their heads, and they’d understand the importance of having the procedure done, and done correctly.”

Drinking from the Trough is the down-to-earth and compelling memoir by veterinarian Mary Carlson. The book takes the reader on a journey as she explains how she came to be such an animal lover, and what lead her to become a vet. Starting out as a teacher, it was her husband, a veterinary student, who inspired her to choose such a path, and her life that follows, is certainly not a boring one as a result. With a menagerie of animals, including lots of horses, dogs, and cats, there’s plenty of furry friends to get to know in this book.

I loved how lovable this book was! As a narrator, Carlson’s story was very endearing, and it felt very comfortable to read. I really felt like I was reading a friend’s story, or a loved one’s – something that felt familiar and radiated warmth. As an animal lover myself, I also loved to learn more about the animals she’s had as pets, and also ones she’s had as patients, it was really lovely to see how strong her connection with animals is.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter Sex Changes and the Amazing Testicle Hunt; as I’m sure you can tell from the title, this section of the book focused on a slightly more sensitive area of Carlson’s job. What I enjoyed about it though was her humour in telling her experiences in this particular area. It was hilarious and also surprisingly educational! (Although, I’m not sure I’ll ever need to know that much information about how to neuter a cat!)

I didn’t really like how the book wasn’t in chronological order – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with showing flashbacks, or jumping around in time, but the way it was done in this particular book, I found, hard to keep up with, and at the beginning of each chapter, it would take me a minute to work out when it was.

I would’ve liked her to give a bit more detail about some of the events. I won’t say who, as to not spoil it, but there was a death which I feel like was only mentioned in passing, and I would have liked to know more about it. I suppose, as it’s a book about her life as a vet, there may have been elements of her personal life she did not want to disclose, but the rest of the book felt like she was pretty open about things, so it surprised me that this one in particular wasn’t focused on.

Drinking from the Trough was an enjoyable and informative memoir, written from a compelling and endearing narrator. I enjoyed learning about what it takes to be a vet, and the somewhat unusual circumstances which may occur. I don’t think it was perfect, but Carlson’s passion and love for animals is just infectious, and for that, I very much enjoyed it!

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Thank you to JKS Communications for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review overview



7Compelling, Confusing, Infectious

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