Viva El Vet!: From the Animal Hospital to a Colombian Practice

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Simon & Schuster International, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages
It's 1973 and the three-day week turns everyday life at the RSPCA Animal Hospital at Harmsworth upside down as the team of vets face everything from power failing mid-operation to setting bones by candlelight.

A Colombian friend suggests a spell as a vet in South America might prove instructive and David jumps at the chance. However, the lessons he learns in Medellin, Colombia's second largest city, 6000 feet above sea level in the Andes, are not those he expects: how to deal with the mafia, how to avoid being mugged, how to flee student riots, how to avoid guerrilla raids. But perhaps more importantly for a young vet having to pay his own way and the wages of his nurse: how to make himself indispensable to the rich clients whose pampered pets lead considerably better lives than the starving street children.

When David saves the life of the local drug baron's dog, shot protecting his owner's property, his future seems secure, but his refusal to carry out unnecessary but lucrative treatment -- ear cropping and tail docking of Yorkshire terriers -- leads to a cash crisis. David solves by becoming a part-time English teacher, which in turn leads to romance.

Meanwhile back at the practice, David comes up against a valuable racehorse that has stopped winning, a dog with an unhealthy obsession with corn on the cob, and the senior partner's wife with an unhealthy interest in a dangerous drug dealer. Not to mention a Boxer with nothing wrong with him, but a lonely female American owner who feeds him caviar and toast and tea for breakfast.

Through his English Colombian friends, David experiences the old-world hospitality of high society; and from the practice nurse and hishousekeeper, he learns about the other side of Colombian life and the politics of poverty. In "!Viva El Vet!," David Grant has written a heart-warming and humorous tale of a young man adrift in a foreign culture and the adventures that befall him.

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