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If Wishes Were Horses: The Education of a Veterinarian

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When Loretta Gage entered her first year of training at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, all the odds were against her. In addition to the tremendous pressures that her fellow classmates faced - brutally long hours, a rigorous load of lecture and laboratory classes, and the knowledge that many of them would not graduate - Gage brought with her th When Loretta Gage entered her first year of training at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, all the odds were against her. In addition to the tremendous pressures that her fellow classmates faced - brutally long hours, a rigorous load of lecture and laboratory classes, and the knowledge that many of them would not graduate - Gage brought with her the enormous emotional and financial challenges of a working-class upbringing. If Wishes Were Horses is the triumphant story of her struggle against hard work and self-doubt to become a practicing veterinarian. This memorable and heartwarming book envelops readers from the very first page, transporting them to a world filled with curmudgeonly professors, classroom disasters, and academic break-throughs, as well as many joyful and inspiring episodes involving the wounded and sick animals that come into the students' lives as they learn their trade. In addition to tales from the classroom, emergency room, and hospital barn where the students made daily rounds, Gage shares her battles with the moral and ethical implications of her work. The rich and gripping story of her struggle to fulfill a lifelong dream illuminates the triumph of the human spirit as much as the fascinating, often heartrending world of veterinary medicine.


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When Loretta Gage entered her first year of training at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, all the odds were against her. In addition to the tremendous pressures that her fellow classmates faced - brutally long hours, a rigorous load of lecture and laboratory classes, and the knowledge that many of them would not graduate - Gage brought with her th When Loretta Gage entered her first year of training at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, all the odds were against her. In addition to the tremendous pressures that her fellow classmates faced - brutally long hours, a rigorous load of lecture and laboratory classes, and the knowledge that many of them would not graduate - Gage brought with her the enormous emotional and financial challenges of a working-class upbringing. If Wishes Were Horses is the triumphant story of her struggle against hard work and self-doubt to become a practicing veterinarian. This memorable and heartwarming book envelops readers from the very first page, transporting them to a world filled with curmudgeonly professors, classroom disasters, and academic break-throughs, as well as many joyful and inspiring episodes involving the wounded and sick animals that come into the students' lives as they learn their trade. In addition to tales from the classroom, emergency room, and hospital barn where the students made daily rounds, Gage shares her battles with the moral and ethical implications of her work. The rich and gripping story of her struggle to fulfill a lifelong dream illuminates the triumph of the human spirit as much as the fascinating, often heartrending world of veterinary medicine.

30 review for If Wishes Were Horses: The Education of a Veterinarian

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.c... Reading the older edition, found in Rolla library, for their Summer Reading Bingo of "How-to." I was thinking I'd do cookbook or decor, but this caught my eye somehow. Maybe because I liked Herriot's books and thought it'd be interesting to compare & contrast.... ... ok done ... Too many animal bodies, not enough animals, for me. But I'm not complaining, because the book does state directly it's about vet school and personal growth, so I know I was lucky to https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.c... Reading the older edition, found in Rolla library, for their Summer Reading Bingo of "How-to." I was thinking I'd do cookbook or decor, but this caught my eye somehow. Maybe because I liked Herriot's books and thought it'd be interesting to compare & contrast.... ... ok done ... Too many animal bodies, not enough animals, for me. But I'm not complaining, because the book does state directly it's about vet school and personal growth, so I know I was lucky to meet any animal characters. Not for the squeamish. Gage and most of her classmates are grateful to the animals they trained on, and Gage explicitly promises, to the dying animal, as she administers euthanasia, to save more lives than she's been responsible for killing. But still, there's a lot of blood & guts, and a lot of facing the reality of the economics of the choices, and a fair bit of advocacy for spay/neuter but not so much for other facets of animal welfare (for example, don't surprise your toddler with a bunny in her Easter basket, eat less meat, etc.). Anyway, this is a smooth and fascinating read, even for those of us who have no special interest in domestic animals or in veterinary medicine. And it's an exhausting read, as in, her struggles came alive for me and I felt them through her and her sister Nancy's words.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I am not in the vet profession but I enjoyed this book very much. I felt almost like I was going along with Loretta to her classes and such. I certainly have much more respect for my vet (who I love anyway)after reading all the things they must learn and go through to become a D.V.M. If you are at all sensitive to the lives of animals ending to be used as learning tools for the vet students it could be hard to read for you. There were a couple of times I did find myself very emotional and in tea I am not in the vet profession but I enjoyed this book very much. I felt almost like I was going along with Loretta to her classes and such. I certainly have much more respect for my vet (who I love anyway)after reading all the things they must learn and go through to become a D.V.M. If you are at all sensitive to the lives of animals ending to be used as learning tools for the vet students it could be hard to read for you. There were a couple of times I did find myself very emotional and in tears. But overall I did like this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Illyria

    So awful I couldn't even finish reading it. It actually started off quite interesting and I was really enjoying learning more about vet school. However, the author comes across as callous, unfeeling, and cold. Someone who really shouldn't be a vet given how ambiguous she is to animal suffering. The part that really bothered me was when she boasted of killing her 18 year old cat and cut off it's head to send for rabies testing, all because it was unvaccinated and it bit her mother. Ever heard of So awful I couldn't even finish reading it. It actually started off quite interesting and I was really enjoying learning more about vet school. However, the author comes across as callous, unfeeling, and cold. Someone who really shouldn't be a vet given how ambiguous she is to animal suffering. The part that really bothered me was when she boasted of killing her 18 year old cat and cut off it's head to send for rabies testing, all because it was unvaccinated and it bit her mother. Ever heard of quarantine and observation? Plus even if it was a possibility that the cat had rabies, her mother could very easily go and get her rabies shots. Problem solved.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cara Achterberg

    I really enjoyed this memoir, admittedly very slowly. I would guess you'd have to be an animal-loving person who is incredibly curious about what it takes to be a vet to truly appreciate the book. I found it fascinating. There are a lot of the grisly details and as a person who appreciates honesty and vulnerability in a writer, I have great respect for author. I'm also impressed that she worked with her sister to create the book - that takes some serious sibling love. Glad I read it- I'm already I really enjoyed this memoir, admittedly very slowly. I would guess you'd have to be an animal-loving person who is incredibly curious about what it takes to be a vet to truly appreciate the book. I found it fascinating. There are a lot of the grisly details and as a person who appreciates honesty and vulnerability in a writer, I have great respect for author. I'm also impressed that she worked with her sister to create the book - that takes some serious sibling love. Glad I read it- I'm already looking differently at my vets!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian for a while (like every girl?). This book gives an in depth look into the years of schooling and challenges that veterinary students face. While the classwork wouldn't have been a problem, having to euthanize so many healthy animals would have been. On the whole, it gave me great respect for veterinarians and made me glad to be a molecular biologist in a nice, clean lab.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    Enjoyed reading about the educational path required of vets. Opened my eyes to the moral dilemmas facing many veterinarians...performing procedures abhorrent to personal beliefs (tail/ear cropping, declawing, debarking) vs. earning a living (to include paying off student loans, purchasing state-of-the-art diagnostic machines/methods, stocking office with necessary supplies, medicines, etc.).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennyfer

    Great book! Very insightful coming from a non-trad student's point of view. You get to follow her from her first day in vet school with her stack of papers to prove she belonged, all the way to the end. I liked it. Made me feel like I may have a shot at this thing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I probably checked this book out of the library 10 or 15 times when I was a kid -- this one and a real-life account of being an OB/GYN resident (whose title I've forgotten). Oddly enough, I had no desire to be either a vet or a doctor, I think I just liked the nonfiction format.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sirius

    One thing and most important to say....GREAT READ! Fascinating and well written book to show how Vet school is I was told and I can believe it!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Reforming

    Excellent book about veterinary training in the 80s. Made me glad I decided not to attempt vet school. Excellent chapter on growing up in the 50s and 60s.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    This was a pretty good memoir from an alum of the DVM program at Colorado State. I think having witnessed friends going through this program helped me to understand this more.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Spynonu

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sollie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  15. 5 out of 5

    Megan Drennan

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tracie Springer

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tyra Schutt

  19. 4 out of 5

    Poetry Train

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline Kawate

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lizzy

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

  25. 4 out of 5

    Denae Haddock

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

  27. 5 out of 5

    Krista

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rochelle

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

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