Putting Your Pet First: A practical and ideological view of pet care and medicine

October 06, 2016

It’doesn’t take a doctor to know this, but we’re glad he said it anyway: “It is good to love a pet and be loved by a pet.”

Dr. John Sleasman discusses this bond between dog and owner in his book Putting Your Pet First: A Veterinarian’s Perspective.  As not only a veterinarian, but a lover of pets as well, Dr. Sleasman demonstrates his compassion for pets and their owners, as illustrated in a variety of short stories in his book about his patients, including an anecdote about crafting a new bill out of acrylic for “Goosey Gander” and fitting “Momma Dog” with corrective glasses following cataract surgery.

In short, Putting Your Pet First tells the story of John Sleasman’s journey to veterinarian practice, the evolution of his practice and the advances in veterinarian medicine over the last 40 years. Along with being informative, his patient stories are guaranteed to make you laugh. His compassion for, and commitment to animal welfare are threads that run throughout the book, as well as the recurrent theme of the human-pet relationship and the importance of veterinarian care for the family pet. Dr. Sleasman’s intelligence and ingenuity in crafting treatments for animals will make you chuckle as well as give you a deep sense of respect for the thoughtful and  innovative care he has provided for his patients and their owners.

The book begins with the story of how John developed a love for animals while living the farm life as a child on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State in the late 1940s where animals were seen as purposeful, having an economic value, and not as pets. Eventually, a family pet arrived and Blackie, a crow, became John’s first pet. He then tells of the variety of animals they had on the farm and ultimately, of the situation that led him to become a veterinarian: when his horse “What Do’s” labor went wrong and required John to provide her with daily treatments in order to save her life.

Woven between hilarious and heartwarming stories of Dr. Sleasman’s patients, he describes a variety of changes in the pet care industry, beginning with the one veterinarian who could “do it all” and concluding with the current, highly specialized--yet fragmented--veterinarian medicine. Dr. Sleasman draws his book to a close with extremely valuable advice for navigating veterinary care, especially in an age of high pressures of corporate veterinary medicine, where trust may often be eroded in the face of escalating tests and fees.

Anyone who has a pet and has sought medical consultation or treatment from a veterinarian will find this book entertaining and informative. We truly appreciate the unique, educated and compassionate approach Dr. Sleasman has brought to veterinary care and are thankful for this book that is both informative and hilarious.

The book can be found on Amazon under the title Putting Your Pet First.


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