In The Other Family Doctor: A Veterinarian Explores What Animals Can Teach Us About Love, Life and Mortality, Karen Fine shares stories from her veterinary career, but this is no ordinary memoir. Dr. Fine is one of those truly gifted veterinarians that don’t just treat the pet, but also know how to take care of the human attached to each pet, especially during times of illness and loss.

From the publisher:

Dr. Fine shares all these touching, joyful, heartbreaking, and life-affirming tales that make up her career as a vet. There’s:

• The feral cat who becomes a creature out of a fable when he puts his trust in a young vet to heal his injured paw
• The pot-bellied pig who grows too big to fit in the car but remains a cherished part of her family
• The surprising colony of perfectly behaved ferrets
• The beloved aging pet who gives her people the gift of accompanying them on one final family vacation
• The dog who saves his owner’s life in a most unexpected way

Throughout her career, Dr. Fine has been mindful of the power of the human animal bond, and of the profound lessons animals teach us. “Loving animals teaches us about being alive,” she writes in the book’s introduction.

The various stories about her patients as well as her own pets are all wonderful, but the book really shines when Dr. Fine goes beyond just relaying the facts, but explores the relationship between her patients and their humans. “I bear witness to the vast love possible between species,” she writes, “to the connections I have come to know as no less wondrous because they are so common. Transcendent love between an animal and a person, I was beginning to realize, is as common as fur.”

Dr. Fine also addresses aspects of being a veterinarian that the general public doesn’t often see, including the emotional toll the profession can take on an individual and the challenges of managing emotions when it comes to performing euthanasia.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found myself tearing up at some of the stories, because they brought back memories of both personal experiences with my own cats, as well as my time spent working in veterinary hospitals.

Beautifully written with great sensitivity, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of what it means to be a veterinarian, and how we can all learn so much from the animals that share our lives.

The Other Family Doctor is due out in March 2023 and is available for pre-order.


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I received this book from the publisher. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

6 Comments on Review: The Other Family Doctor

  1. I wish I could find a Dr. Fine as my other family doc. I live in Los Angeles and have not yet found a doc with a practice to include a knowledge base and sensibility I resonate with and respect. When I walk into their office and see shelves full of dry food and commercial “market” canned food I know what I need to know and leave! Do you happen to have any recommendations for the west-side Los Angeles area? I will drive out of my area if I need to – no prob!
    Thanks very much,

  2. Sounds like a few stories from James Herriot from All Creatures Great and Small. Ordered the book. Sounds like a great read.

  3. It is so hard to find a really great vet as well as vet staff. There is a shortage of both as well as vet techs and er nurses.

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