LIONS AND TIGERS AND HAMSTERS Review — An Endearing Look at the Human-Animal Connection

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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.

Lions and Tigers and Hamsters
Gigi and her baby
Lions and Tigers and Hamsters
Mark in Ocala on the horse farm

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.

Lions and Tigers and Hamsters
Mark Goldstein Photograph Janie DeCelles

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.

Lions and Tigers and Hamsters
Mark and Scarface

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.”

Lions and Tigers and Hamsters
Mark and a chimp

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.

Lions and Tigers and Hamsters
Mark examines Gigi

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.


CLICK HERE FOR ONLINE PURCHASE OF Lions and Tigers and Hamsters.

Photos courtesy of Dr Mark Goldstein unless otherwise indicated

Lions and Tigers and Hamsters
Dr Mark examines a python
Lions and Tigers and Hamsters
Mark and Donia when I got out of the hospital
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Gigi and her baby -thinking
Lions and Tigers and Hamsters
Ren with dead fleas glasses

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Brent Ervin-Eickhoff is a director, writer, and educator based in Chicago, IL. He has worked with A Red Orchid Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co., Facility Theatre, and others as a director, assistant director, and in a variety of artistic capacities. Brent served as Co-Artistic Director and then Managing Director of Blue Goose Theatre Ensemble for three years, of which he was a founding member. His productions of Herculaneum and Bison? Bison. Bison! with Blue Goose were praised by critics and audiences. Bison? Bison. Bison! was selected and performed as part of Chicago’s Night Out in the Parks Initiative. An award-winning filmmaker, Brent’s films have screened as part of the Frog Baby Film Festival and Indianapolis 48 Hour Film Project. His play Puget Sound was workshopped as a staged reading as part of A Red Orchid Theatre’s Incubator Program in 2017. Brent graduated from Ball State University Magna Cum Laude with degrees in Directing and Theatre Education, as well as Ball State’s prestigious Academic Honors in Writing.

Read more about him and other Picture this Post writers on the Picture this Post Masthead.

Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Brent Ervin-Eickhoff

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