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Ever by My Side: A Memoir in Eight (Acts) Pets    by Nick Trout order for
Ever by My Side
by Nick Trout
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Dr. Nick Trout is a veterinarian who has written several books about his experiences with animals. In his newest book, Ever by My Side: A Memoir in Eight (Acts) Pets, we are introduced to the dogs that influence his decision to become a veterinarian as well as the dogs that are important to his parents after he grows up and leaves home. We also meet the pets that he acquires after he marries and has children of his own.

As a small child, Nick was bedeviled by the small poodle owned by one of his grandmothers. This small dog had the ability to totally intimidate Nick when the family arrived for a visit, by running at them, barking furiously, and seemingly glaring at him the whole time they were there. Needless to say, Nick was never able to establish a relationship with this dog. He could only marvel at the close bond between the dog and his grandmother. The first dog he was able to love and play with belonged to his other grandma and was a 'placid, female Dalmatian named Cleo.' Nick played endless games of catch with this dog until his parents finally got a dog of their own, a German Shepherd puppy that they called Patch.

Patch was a wonderful family dog, but because Nick's father worked long hours and didn't have enough time to train him properly, he had some serious problems, both with other dogs and with their veterinarian. Only four when the dog joined their family, Nick wasn't involved in training him, and as he grew older, he tended to blame his father when Patch misbehaved. It's interesting to see how both Nick and his father changed as the years passed - Nick becoming more understanding of the problems his father had had with the dog, and his father learning from experience how to better socialize the dogs who became his pets. Nick became a veterinarian specializing in pet surgery, moving to the United States to practice, having fallen in love with the country during a visit to a friend.

I enjoyed reading about these pets and Nick's and his family's relationship with them. Nick tells about growing up in England, with stories about his family and their pets as well as some delightful tidbits about himself. For instance, he felt a special closeness to Cleo because she was a dog that would eat anything and everything, whether it was food or not. He had accidentally swallowed a small spoon one time when he was enjoying some yogurt so much that he just couldn't stop licking the spoon and suddenly it had disappeared down his throat. He believes that the spoon is still inside him somewhere, but is thankful that it's never shown up on X-rays.

I think that anyone who has had beloved pets themselves would enjoy reading this book. It's funny in places and sad in others, with lots of interesting information about the dogs and one fearless cat belonging to the Trout family, as well as a few vignettes about animals that Dr. Trout came across in his veterinary practice.

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