Pet owners and animal lovers know Dr. Doug Mader as the renowned and passionate Florida Keys veterinarian who can relate to people as well as animals. But Mader had a whole different life on the country’s opposite coast before moving to the Keys in the mid ’90s with his wife and fellow veterinarian Dr. Gerry Diethelm.
His new book details that life with sharp writing and sensitive insights.
“The Vet at Noah’s Ark: Stories of Survival from an Inner-City Animal Hospital,” is a compilation of true vignettes collected in a single year while Mader worked in his inner-city Los Angeles animal hospital during the civil unrest and riots prompted by the infamous police beating of Rodney King.
“The book starts with me applying to take my specialty board exams, and ends with me passing the exam, but everything in between is what happened in real life while I was studying for the boards and working in the animal hospital in the thick of the volatility,” Mader said. “A client was killed right in front of our clinic. One of my employees was stabbed in the riots.
“We were surrounded by graffiti and riots, animosity and drive-by shootings, but looking back on all of it while I was writing the book, I realized how the human-animal bond still transcends all that. The connection is deep and real regardless of where you are.”
The book, like life, is a combination of hilarious and heartbreaking.
“There was a Los Angeles Rams football player who had seven Pomeranians that had gotten into a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates, and the way you treat it is to make the dog vomit,” Mader said, laughing at the recollection of seven tiny dogs vomiting in the clinic and a giant of a man worrying about them all. There are also plenty of dogs, cats, an emu and a 19-foot-long snake from Texas, and the humans who love them.
“Chronicling both rare emergency room drama and everyday tumult, ‘The Vet at Noah’s Ark’ is a tale of survival in a harsh environment, but also of a team’s affection, respect and love for animals,” states the book’s back cover. “With an electric, rollicking spirit, the memoir allows readers to ride shotgun with the doctor as he manages his practice and supports a colorful cast of employees, patients, and their families.”
Celebrity author Carl Hiaasen, who is currently filming an Apple TV series in Key West based on his book, “Bad Monkey,” has endorsed Mader’s book, writing, “Doug is so fearless and dedicated. He’s also a damn good storyteller, as readers of this memoir will find out.”
Television personality Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, of Animal Planet’s “Emergency Vets,” also touts Mader’s book. “To say Dr. Mader is well-known within veterinary circles is like saying Muhammad Ali was a fighter. … Of course veterinarians love animals, but the best veterinarians love people as well. Doug Mader’s understanding and love of all life comes across in this solid read.”
Released on July 12, “The Vet at Noah’s Ark” is available for $24.99 in Key West at Books & Books and Key West Island Books as well as online booksellers.
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