Weyburn writers second book of stories gives readers a sense of the hectic life of a rural veterinarian

Photo from www.skbooks.com. Cover of the book Don't They KICK When You Do That? More Stories of a Prairie Veterinarian.

Michelle Shaw, Sask Books

An anxious Saint Bernard with a muzzle full of porcupine quills, four escaped buffalo that inadvertently crossed the international border into Canada and an escaped tomcat that resulted in an unusual “fishing” experience. These are a few of the heartwarming and quirky scenarios Dr Gary Houim relates in Don’t They Kick When You Do That? Vol 2 More Stories of a Prairie Veterinarian, the sequel to his popular 2021 memoir Don’t They Kick When You do That?

For more than 30 years, Dr Gary Hoium was the owner of a mixed animal clinic in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Mixed animal is a simple way of saying that he treated everything in the surrounding areas from turtles to alpacas. Most of his day-to-day work of course was more routine – calving cows, caring for injured cattle and horses and the many small animal concerns and emergencies of a busy veterinary clinic. But never, ever snakes. And yes, there’s a story in that!

Gary Hoium is a wonderful storyteller. He sets each scene with a vivid sense of place: you really feel you’re right there with him. The 36 chapters are short, but you can tell that each has been carefully crafted to make the most of every story. I really appreciated the collection of photos at the back of the book. I love seeing what the people and places that have been mentioned in the book, actually look like.

Some of my favourite stories are the ones that involve Gary’s dog, a Goldendoodle named Stanley. He was so large that he would sit on the passenger seat next to Gary with his front paws on the floor and his chin on the dashboard and was sometimes mistaken (from the back) for a frizzy haired human.

You really get a sense of the hectic and hard life of a rural vet in Saskatchewan, particularly in the winter. I was an avid reader of the James Herriot books growing up (the stories of a Yorkshire vet, most recently brought to life by the BBC with the series All Creatures Great and Small). I could always clearly envisage James, with his arm in the rear end of a cow that was trying to calve during a bitterly cold Yorkshire winter night. Now I will replace that with an image of Gary in the same situation except it’s a Saskatchewan blizzard and the temperature is minus 45 degrees C.

So, will there be a third collection of stories? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Don’t They Kick When You Do That? Vol 2 More Stories of a Prairie Veterinarian, is written by Dr. Gary Hoium and published by DriverWorks Ink. It is available at your local bookstore or from www.skbooks.com.