All Creatures Great and Small Study Guide

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All Creatures Great and Small By James Herriot

A country veterinarian's memory that has short anecdotes from the ridiculous to the sublime and tear-jerking, 'All Creatures Great and Small' begins as Herriot leaves veterinary school, desperate for a job. He finds a position as the assistant to one Dr. Siegfried Farnon of Darrowby. Happy to have work at all, Herriot jumps headlong into his new career, not realizing it will be the position he will hold for the rest of his life.

His first day in the office is a literally chilling reminder that a country vet doesn't enjoy the same luxuries that a city vet does. He sees that he will be enjoying freezing temperatures, lack of sleep, blackouts, and maliciously stubborn clientele. He will have to love his job above all else to get along here -- fortunately, he does.

After a year, Herriot has learned about more than just the animals; he learns about the people's peculiarities and oddities. He believes that a vet treats owners just as much as animals, and as such, he ends up being everything from a comforting shoulder to lean on to a punching bag to the locals.

As his first winter in the region comes and goes, Herriot is amazed and a little appalled at how cold Darrowby can get. Everyone looks forward to Spring, which arrives slowly -- but brings joy and relief and temperatures improve and lambing begins.

From pampered lapdogs to rough-and-tumble farm animals, Herriot treat anything and everything, and along the way, he reveals to the reader a deep understanding of the veterinarian's struggles as well as many glimpses into the details of country life. He learns far more working than he ever did in school, and that in-the-trenches understanding is what saves the lives of his patients time and time again.

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