Despite my parents taking a lot of persuading, my life so far has starred a grand total of six cats, a rabbit, four guinea pigs, a hamster, two dogs, the customary goldfish, two horses and many, many gerbils (the less said about that one, the better). Of course it’s impossible to have had that many animals without encountering a vet on occasion and, as I believe every pet owner should, taking an interest in their health and wellbeing.
It was with that in mind that I was excited to be offered the chance to review Cows in Trees – the memoirs of a small and farm animal vet over the course of his forty-five year career. As we all know, animals are incredibly unpredictable and promise some amusing stories. Cows in Trees didn’t disappoint.
Julian Earl has an eloquent and easy to read style of writing that enables the reader to really visualise the shenanigans that he’s getting up to with these animals. Within the space of half an hour this book had me howling with laughter, cringing in embarrassment, feeling disgusted by a particularly gruesome surgery, and crying hot, fat tears right down my chin.
Earl has been dubbed ‘James Herriot for the 21st Century’, but it’s very difficult to live up to such a claim. A common problem with books based on memoirs is that sometimes they can appear to be a list of anecdotes and Cows in Trees doesn’t escape this. However, it would be perfectly suited to a coffee table, or for reading in short bursts when short of time as it really can be dipped in and out of. That said, in the second half the book flows much better as there are some longer tales explaining the development of patients or clients. At 160 pages this is quite a short book and some stories could perhaps be elaborated on – or maybe a second edition is needed!
One thing I liked in particular was how I felt that I’d learned from the book. A little bit about the life of a vet, and also a little bit more about animals and certain conditions. Earl has a great way of enabling the reader to feel informed without feeling overwhelmed by knowledge or veterinary terms. Cat owners faced with the age-old problem of how to give a tablet to a cat will also be pleased to know that Earl offers a method of administering such medication, which he claims has almost a 100% success rate!
Dog trainers often say that they don’t have to train the dog, they have to train the owners, and I imagine after reading Cows in Trees that vets have a similar issue! Some of the funniest and most heart-warming stories are those of the owners, rather than the patients. Earl also has a great quality that he’s not afraid to laugh at himself, retelling events where he was chased by a bull, or spent an hour in the middle of the night chasing the wrong cat.
Overall I really enjoyed reading Cows in Trees. Knowing some recently qualified vets I would definitely suggest it to them, or in fact to anyone who has a love of animals, great and small. It’s also beautifully presented with a bright cover image and comes as a hardback so it would make a great gift at a very reasonable price. I certainly hope there are more stories to come from Julian.
Review by Haynet Member Maddi Naish
To buy a copy of Cows In Trees by Julian Earl, please click HERE