By: Nick Trout
Publication Date: February 2011
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 7, 2011
Recollections of a snippy, yappy, obnoxious, not-to-be-trusted with children, spoiled little dog is not the typical way to begin a book about animals, but Dr. Nick Trout is not your typical writer. A veterinarian by trade, Dr. Trout has a true knack for storytelling and effortlessly blends tales of the naughty, but primarily nice, animals who have shared his home and heart in his newest offering, Ever By My Side.
Ever By My Side is a memoir where Trout recounts his life story, as seen primarily through events that entailed the many four-legged animals (mostly dogs) that he encountered. He starts with his childhood in England, where he had to deal with Marty, one grandmother’s nasty little toy poodle, and Cleo, his other grandmother’s super sweet Dalmatian cross. Trout begged and pleaded for a dog of his own but his mother held fast to her decision not to have a pet in their house. It took Trout’s father, Duncan, to go behind her back and bring home Patch, a German shepherd pup.
The reader gets to know Patch through the many humorous and touching stories the author tells. I was particularly touched by the way his mother slowly came to love the dog, while his father bonded so well with Patch that his life practically revolved around the canine. We see Patch in all his glory, and then, as age ravages his body, the author tenderly takes us where few would be invited, into the hearts of those who know they are about to lose a beloved pet. But Trout doesn’t dwell on the sadness. As a tear wells up in the reader’s eye, the author smartly moves on to tell a funny story and lighten the mood.
Ever By My Side is divided into two sections; the first section deals with Trout’s early life in England and veterinarian school and then the second part covers life in the United States. It is his move to the States that adds much humor to the tale as Trout adjusts to life in a strange county, trying to figure out what a ‘Ding Dong’ is and getting used to the attitude and mindset of the New England Yankees he found himself living amongst.
While the story is principally about the animals that have touched Trout’s life, we also get to meet his wife and two daughters. But it is the animal tales that truly set this book apart. I loved them all and would be hard pressed to think of one to highlight. As I read, I couldn’t help but be reminded of James Herriot and his wonderful books. Indeed, Trout mentions Herriot as one who inspired him back in the Yorkshire Dales – he even had the pleasure of meeting the real Herriot, James Alfred Wight. If you love reading stories about animals, written by someone with a gift for storytelling, pick up a copy of Ever By My Side. You won’t be disappointed.
Quill says: An endearing memoir of dogs, cats, horses, and the people they love.