3 out of 4 stars
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Raccoons Stole My Baby Jesus is the career memoir of Jennifer Doll, DVM. After spending eight years in a private practice clinic just outside of Seattle, she relocated to Eastern Iowa. Over the last two decades, Dr. Doll has worked as a veterinarian in the rural Midwest, and she has treated more than her fair share of unforgettable animal patients. Countless surgeries have taken place in her Animals All About mobile van, but she has also worked closely with (and in opposition to) several animal rescue groups, feral cat sanctuaries, exotic animal breeders, and puppy mill operations. For some of her wilder patients, veterinary care often occurs after some quick sedation via a jab-stick syringe.
Since Dr. Doll’s professional and personal lives are so intimately intertwined, she shares many overlapping memories and recollections from her own homestead menagerie of critters. Readers will encounter fawns, piglets, boars, and bucks, but they’ll also meet Burmese pythons, cougars, and rattlesnakes. Lorenzo the llama gets crammed into a Volkswagen van, emus ride in station wagons, and bears investigate makeshift garage homes. Coyote pairs toss thawed rabbit heads while baby carrots and marshmallows lure lumbering beasts uphill.
This collection of stories explores many of the challenges that come with being a working mom, but there is plenty of humor woven throughout as well. Junie B. Coonie intentionally dumps things down the toilet because what raccoon wouldn’t be mesmerized by the ability to flush? Emus go rogue and tiny-handed thieves run amok. Emphasis is placed upon the dangers of the exotic pet trade, and several scenarios prove why the spontaneous purchase of bear cubs is ill-advised; it turns out the bears suffer the most from such a residential arrangement. The author even addresses controversial topics like declawing, euthanasia, and post-mortem consumption of the unfortunately fallen few. While notable medical terminology is present, all veterinary techniques and procedures have been thoughtfully described.
Contrary to what this book’s title may suggest, there are no religious themes present; the choice of wording is in reference to a ceramic nativity scene abduction involving a stored baby Jesus figurine (and a destructively curious raccoon family). Equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking, I enjoyed this author’s ability to narrate with meaning; her unique blend of uncensored storytelling can make readers laugh, sympathize, speculate, and cringe. Unconventional approaches can lead to unprecedented victories, and impromptu rescue missions may call for exploratory surgeries or solutions.
I feel this 172-page book would be appropriate for mature readers. There are scenes of family dogs being hit by cars, feline-leukemia sufferers, leg traps, amputations, maggot-infested wounds, euthanizations, and many other gruesome and harsh realities that would make much of the content unsuitable for adolescent readers. There is also a small amount of scattered profanity present.
I award this book a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. While the majority of the encountered grammatical errors were minor, they did appear in a sufficient-enough quantity to affect my overall rating. This was the only aspect of the book I disliked. Throughout these pages, Dr. Doll conquers self-doubt and struggles with some of the same moral dilemmas many of us have faced. I would strongly recommend this book to readers with a keen interest in veterinary medicine or wildlife rehabilitation. Novice animal rescuers, and those with a curiosity for rural animal husbandry practices, could find some true education in this one as well.
Raccoons Stole My Baby Jesus
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