Veterinarian Mark Goldstein’s compassionate pen shares stories from his three decades of experience with animals and their humans in LIONS AND TIGERS AND HAMSTERS
Written by veterinarian and animal-lover Dr. Mark Goldstein, Lions and Tigers and Hamsters offers those interested in learning more about the care of animals and one veterinarian's experiences working with animals both large and small. The book combines a variety of stories from Dr. Mark's three decade career, providing a mixture of humor and pathos likely to appeal to non-fiction and fiction readers alike. Amidst Dr. Mark's stories about animals are small nuggets of wisdom he's learned along the way. By packaging all of these elements into one volume, you get the opportunity to really learn about the variety of experiences and jobs a career in animal welfare can take you through.
Compassionate, Direct Prose at the Heart of Lions and Tigers and Hamsters
One aspect of Lions and Tigers and Hamsters you'll likely be struck by thumbing through the pages of Dr. Mark's prose is the passion and compassion apparent on the page. This is clear from the first pages of the first chapter, “Donia,” when an elephant attack from a dominant matriarch is described in thrilling detail. Even as he’s discussing the science behind this adrenaline-pumping event, he fills it with information and understanding.
Dr. Mark writes directly and from the heart, illustrating the great care he takes in helping animals and their owners. At the same time, his writing feels like a jovial conversation with an old friend, reminiscing about past adventures both humorous and heartbreaking with a true sense of joy.
Take, for example, a chapter on Frank, the fancy goldfish and his owner. ”’I know there’s probably nothing you can do, said the noticeably distraught middle-aged woman, ‘but I had to be sure,” Dr. Mark writes, quickly and succinctly summing up a position he notes many pet owners have found themselves in when their beloved animal is unwell. He then injects a bit of sly humor into his recounting of the story, noting that “it was ironic that a fancy goldfish needed to be shielded from rain when it lived in water” describing how Frank’s owner carried him into Angell Memorial Animal Hospital on a rainy day.
Insights Shared in “Ask Dr. Mark”
Sprinkled throughout Lions and Tigers and Hamster’s stories about animals in veterinary clinics and zoos are short sections entitled “Ask Dr. Mark.” These portions of the book answer some of the questions that Dr. Mark has most often heard in his work, ranging from topics such as “Why Do We Have Zoological Parks and Aquariums” to “What Drives the Costs of Veterinary Care?” Like the other chapters, each answer is clear, to-the-point, and written from a place of compassion.
Take, for example, this excerpt from the section on whether or not homeless people should have pets: “It may not be the lap of luxury, but the lap of a homeless person is one that’s available 24/7 for their pet. In return, the person without a home gets unconditional love, and on those cold nights on the streets, even shared bodily warmth. In fact, the pet’s love for their owner may even be the only true love the person feels they have in their life. It can give them purpose...can even make the difference for a person to choose sobriety over being in an altered state of mind from drugs and alcohol.”
Like so many other aspects of Lions and Tigers and Hamsters, this section perfectly summarizes Dr. Mark’s empathy for both humans and animals. Indeed, caring for animals both large and small has clearly afforded him the ability to truly move through the world without judging others based on their looks or station in life. It’s this perspective that made reading Lions and Tigers and Hamsters such a rewarding experience for this writer.
Even if you've never considered becoming a veterinarian yourself, you'll be able to appreciate reading about one man's journey in a career that can only be described as his calling. This makes Lions and Tigers and Hamsters one of the most pleasurable pieces of non-fiction this reviewer has read in recent memory--entertaining and educating hand-in-hand with an approachable and easy-going structure.
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