TELL ME WHERE IT HURTS

A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon

Nick Trout

It’s 2:47 a.m. when Dr. Nick Trout takes the phone call that starts another hectic day at the Angell Animal Medical Center. Sage, a ten-year old German shepherd, will die without emergency surgery for a serious stomach condition. Over the next twenty-four hours Dr. Trout fights for Sage’s life, battles disease in the operating room, unravels tricky diagnoses, reassures frantic pet parents, and reflects on the humor, heartache, and inspiration in his life as an animal surgeon. And he wants to take you along for the ride.…

From the front lines of modern medicine, Tell Me Where It Hurts is a fascinating insider portrait of a veterinarian,

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It’s 2:47 a.m. when Dr. Nick Trout takes the phone call that starts another hectic day at the Angell Animal Medical Center. Sage, a ten-year old German shepherd, will die without emergency surgery for a serious stomach condition. Over the next twenty-four hours Dr. Trout fights for Sage’s life, battles disease in the operating room, unravels tricky diagnoses, reassures frantic pet parents, and reflects on the humor, heartache, and inspiration in his life as an animal surgeon. And he wants to take you along for the ride.…

From the front lines of modern medicine, Tell Me Where It Hurts is a fascinating insider portrait of a veterinarian, his furry patients, and the blend of old-fashioned instincts and cutting-edge technology that defines pet care in the twenty-first century. For anyone who’s ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your veterinarian’s office, Tell Me Where It Hurts offers a vicarious journey through twenty-four intimate, eye-opening, heartrending hours at the premier Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.

You’ll learn about the amazing progress of modern animal medicine, where organ transplants, joint replacements, and state-of-the-art cancer treatments have become more and more common. With these technological advances come controversies and complexities that Dr. Trout thoughtfully explores, such as how long (and at what cost) treatments should be given, how the Internet has changed pet care, and the rise in cosmetic surgery.

You’ll also be inspired by the heartwarming stories of struggle and survival filling these pages. With a wry and winning tone, Dr. Trout offers up hilarious and delightful anecdotes about cuddly (or not-so-cuddly) pets and their variously zany, desperate, and demanding owners. In total, Tell Me Where It Hurts offers a fascinating portrait of the comedy and drama, complexities and rewards involved with loving and healing animals.

Part ER, part Dog Whisperer, and part House, this heartfelt and candid book shows that while the technology has changed since James Herriot’s day, the humanity and compassion remains unchanged. If you’ve ever had a pet or special place in your heart for furry friends, Dr. Trout’s irresistible book is for you.

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  • Broadway Books
  • Hardcover
  • March 2008
  • 304 Pages
  • 9780767926430

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$22.95

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About Nick Trout

 Nick Trout is a staff surgeon at the Angell Animal Medical Center and lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

Praise

“It’s 12:00 a.m., and I have just finished Nick Trout’s book—I could not put it down. Nick has real insight into animals in trouble and their caretaker owners. The human-animal bond is alive and well. Read this book!” —Dr. Robert Taylor, star of E-Vets on Animal Planet

Tell Me Where It Hurts is a wonderful behind-the-scenes story about a day in the lives of individual animals and the dedicated humans who selflessly care for them. This book is a must-read because it shows clearly how incredibly difficult and heart-wrenching decisions need to be made “on the run”; but when hope, humility, heart, compassion, and love predominate, we’re right far more often than we’re wrong. Read this book, laugh, cry, and share widely. It’s that enlightening and important.” —Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals and Animals Matter, and editor of the Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships

“Dr. Trout has given us a lifetime in one day as he takes us on his rounds as a veterinary surgeon. With equal parts, wit, wisdom, and great kindness, he offers a rare look into the mind and heart of a remarkable man. He is the vet every animal owner wants and the advocate every animal deserves when it comes to facing the complexities and often expensive options of diagnostics and treatment. This is a man who loves his job, and everyone benefits: the animals in his care, their often lovable but sometimes infuriating owners, and, lastly, the reader, who is lucky enough to go along for the literary ride.” —Susan Richards, author of Chosen by a Horse

“I laughed, I worried, I laughed some more, I teared with a lump in my throat, and I came to think of Nick Trout as a guy I’d like to have a beer with. This book is wonderful, and, oh yes, I also learned a lot about veterinary medicine and veterinarians. They are as necessary as a dog’s hug. If you love dogs, you’ll love this book.” —Mordecai Siegal, author of Dog Spelled Backwards

Discussion Questions

Do you have pets? What has your experience been with their healthcare?

Throughout the book, Trout makes it clear that he’s not just treating his patient—his actions also affect the life of the owner. How does this understanding influence his decisions about the care of these animals? In what ways does it make him a better doctor?

Discuss the training veterinarians undergo, and the competition for spots at veterinary school. What kind of person seems best suited for this line of work? What about in England, where potential vets must commit to the profession while they’re still teenagers?

On pages 44 & 45, Trout discussed the relatively recent domination of the veterinary medicine by women. What do you think of his explanations for this? Why do you think there are now so many women veterinarians? Is this a good thing?

In describing owners who come armed with diagnoses they’ve made based on their own research, Trout says, “Sometimes the Internet can feel like a religion for agnostics who need a shoulder in times of trouble.” What does he mean by this? Do you agree? Can you think of other situations where that statement might apply? Have you ever done online medical research for yourself or your pet? In what ways can it be beneficial as well as a hinderance?

Discuss the Stonewall couple and their dog, Jester (pp 63-67). In your opinion, does their delay in seeking treatment constitute inhumane treatment? Clearly they love their pet, so how can you explain their behavior?

On page 72, Trout compares veterinarians to pediatricians, in that both of their patients are unable to speak about their ailments. Can you think of other ways in which their challenges and job requirements are similar? Which would you rather be?

Discuss the costs of veterinary treatments. If money were no object, how much seems reasonable to you to prolong the life of a pet? If you have a pet, do you have health insurance for it?

What are your feelings about euthanasia for pets? How is it related to your thoughts on the same subject, but for humans? In what ways are the issues the same, and in what ways are they different?

Before reading this book, had you ever considered pet euthanasia’s effects on those who carry it out? How did Trout’s first experience with putting down a patient, Peanut (pp. 92-96), color his thinking? How would you have handled that situation?

Re-read the section beginning on page 109, in which Trout describes several of the more eccentrically enthusiastic owners he has met, people who “embody the conspicuous simplicity and intensity of the animal bond.” Why do you think he told us about them? What is his opinion of this level of devotion? What is yours?

Discuss Trout’s take on obesity, both of pets and their owners. How is it linked? Why do you think obesity is recognized as a major health problem for humans, but is commonly considered almost endearing for animals?

On page 179, Trout says, “Current thinking dictates that if it makes me feel better, it must make my pet feel better.” What are the dangers inherent in this attitude? How might it be beneficial to pets? To their owners?

Discuss Trout’s overall treatment of Sage, the German shepherd whose story is laced throughout the book. How does Trout’s childhood experience with Patch affect his decisions? Do you think he made the right call? How did the owner’s daughter influence the outcome?

On pages 245-247, Trout cites the findings of a recent survey of pet owners by the American Animal Hospital Association. Did any of it surprise you? Why do you think our feelings about our pets have become so intense in recent years? What does this say about our society?

Have you ever read the works of James Herriot? How does his work as a country veterinarian, some fifty years before Nick Trout, compare? What do you imagine he would think of the current state of veterinary medicine?