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February 09 , 2008

A Country Practice

Scenes from the Veterinary Life


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.

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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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