REVIEW: How to Examine a Wolverine by Philipp Schott
Crammed with useful info, funny recollections, heartfelt anecdotes, and lots of cute furry creatures, a collection for all animal lovers!
This collection of over 60 stories and essays, drawn from Dr. Schott’s 30 years in small animal practice, covers an astonishing breadth of experiences, emotions, and species. Schott has tales of creatures ranging from tiny honeybees to massive Burmese pythons, although the emphasis is on dogs and cats and the interesting, often quirky, people who love them. He also doles out advice on current topics such as CBD oil, raw diets, and COVID-19, as well as the mysteries of catnip, dog flatulence, and duck erectile dysfunction. Schott’s candor gives the reader a behind-the-scenes look at a profession that is much admired but often misunderstood. What is it really like to be a veterinarian? More to the point, what is it really like to be a veterinarian when confused pet parents call at 2:00 a.m.? Or when your patient bolts for the road? Or when you’re asked to spay a dog on a resort’s kitchen table? Readers will also learn how to make a sheep sit on its bum and, yes, how to examine a wolverine.
Dear Dr. Schott,
I was delighted when the publicists reached out to me and invited me to read your latest book about your life as a veterinarian. I’ve read a lot of books about human medicine and animal medicine but something you said finally crystallized for me the difference in the reason for each. I’m fascinated by the science of human medicine. But I mainly read books about vet medicine because I love animals. Your redo of your group practice logo makes perfect sense: “Birchwood Animal Hospital. For the love of animals since 1959.”
When I saw the title of the book, “How to Examine a Wolverine,” my immediate thought was “Carefully. Very, very carefully.” How wonderful is it that you got a chance to see and examine one (albeit a heavily sedated one because – claws) –
The first thing that struck me was his coat. It was a mahogany reddish-brown running from somewhat lighter, as if bleached, on his sides and head, to a much deeper, almost black, tone on his legs and back. I know it’s a cliché, but the coat could only be described as “lustrous.” Plunging my fingers into his fur was a strange thrill, as it was thicker, plusher and softer than anything I had felt before, yet at the same time I knew that being able to do this while keeping my face attached to my head was a rare privilege.
– plus pythons, hedgehogs, ferrets, and mice, along with the bog standard cats and dogs. I knew about small animal practice vs big animal farm work and that there are zoo specialists but call me amazed that there are bee vets (no I won’t make jokes about tiny equipment), salmon vets, lobster pathologists, and those who (nope, couldn’t do it) treat invertebrates. How does one know if a tarantula is having a bad day? Never a dull day in the vet world.
The (small) list of true emergencies for going to an emergency vet clinic is appreciated. Thank goodness no dog has ever said “Hold my beer and watch this.” The section on euthenasia – while emotionally wrenching for me to read, it must be worse for vets who provide this last compassionate service for their patients – was informative. Wow, I knew crows recognize human faces but sheep can be trained to, too? I tend to agree with you about the silliness of expecting cloned pets to be exact replicas of the original and the question of why do that with so many lovely animals in shelters waiting for homes. And (ew) everybody out there, do a better job washing your hands after cleaning up after your pets.
I am in a very privileged profession. What other professionals are you primarily motivated to visit because of love? Family doctor? No. Lawyer? Ha. Accountant? Double ha. Dentist? Triple ha. The list goes on. For sure many veterinary clients (and parents of children?) are also motivated by a sense of duty, a desire to do the right thing or even feelings of guilt, but the basic driver is usually love.
What can you say beyond that. Most pet owners know, even if they will not admit it, that they are crazy nuts about their “children.” I know I am. My mother swears she wants to be reincarnated as one of my cats. Thank you, and your staff, for continuing to deliver the best care you can and may I put my request in for book three? B+