Read a veterinarian’s story

Posted 4/23/09

“The reality is that veterinary medicine is much more than just a career; it’s a lifestyle…. the rewards of being able to help animals and …

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Read a veterinarian’s story


“The reality is that veterinary medicine is much more than just a career; it’s a lifestyle…. the rewards of being able to help animals and their owners can’t be measured.” — Jeff Wells D.V.M.

His patients have ranged from a circus elephant in need of a blood test to a tiny dehydrated Yorkie, with veins so small that setting up an IV was a real challenge. Hours are erratic. Animals, like children, seem to feel sicker after office hours, although in one instance Wells suspected that a visit from the new young vet provided the evening’s entertainment for a bunch of tough ranchers.

Experienced veterinarian Jeff Wells will spin stories and sign copies of his new book, “All My Patients Have Tales” at 7:30 p.m. April 28 at Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch, at Highlands Ranch Town Center.

Colorado foothills veterinarian Jeff Wells now has a practice primarily devoted to caring for horses, but in his early years, he worked in mixed practices, treating whatever animal needed assistance — and dealing with owners who ranged from tearfully grateful to surly and suspicious.

Early in his career, the young graduate of Iowa Date University’s veterinary medicine school recognized the importance of calmly and confidently interacting with the human owners of an animal, even if he wasn’t quite certain of a diagnosis and treatment initially. And, throughout the book, he illustrates a sympathetic insight into an owner’s personality, with a few possible exceptions.

Emergencies sometimes related to encounters with porcupines and at other times to excessive appetites or problems with birthing young. Once they are able to make a successful entrance into the world, animal babies are amazingly resilient, seeking out a warm bellyful of milk almost immediately, Wells marvels.

Personalities of Wells’ patients were not necessarily tied to size.

“Some of the toughest dogs I’ve dealt with weighed under 30 pounds,” he recalls.

“Miniature Menace” is a chapter devoted to a miniature Sicilian donkey named Jefferson, who had tried to stomp a prickly porcupine. These little critters stand about two and a half feet high and sport long fuzzy ears that detect everything around them. Really cute, with big liquid brown eyes, Jefferson “led a life of significant excess,” Wells observed, begging food until he was as wide as he was tall, despite his vet’s efforts to persuade the owners to say no.

The donkey was like a rebellious child who always got his own way. His self-appointed body guard was a big draft horse name d Ed, and separating the two so Jefferson’s leg could be treated was a challenge. Jefferson hid under his big friend until dragged out with a rope, kicking and biting. It took two strong men to corner him and remove the quills, which could has caused infection.

Wells suggested that a corral on the property sure would help if there were a next time, and was happy to see the owner at the lumber yard buying supplies for one. He writes about frequently being called to care for animals at rural locations, where there was no adequate place to hold them

Wells’ book is published by St. Martin’s Press, the publisher put on the map by legendary veterinarian James Herriot. While not quite in Herriot’s league, Wells’ accounts of his experiences are fun to read. This strikes me as an especially good gift for a young animal lover who contemplates a career among four-footed patients.


“Some of the toughest dogs I’ve delt with weighed under 30 pounds”

Jeff Wells, D.M.V.


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