The confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers is a region of the USA steeped in histories of the mountain man, fur traders and the northern upper plains nomadic tribes. I joined a veterinary practice there in 1960, directly out of veterinary school. Our clients included townspeople, river valley farmers, high prairie dry land wheat farmers and ranchers, and North Dakota Badlands ranchers, the later doing their best to wrest a living from government grazing leases and their too small homesteads. All were determined, independent-minded folks who expected their veterinarian to be physically tough, knowledgeable about all species of animals, and skilled in the practice of the profession. Our animal patients were the same as they are today prone to the same illnesses and injuries. They were for the most part stoic and never embarrassed by anything they did or that was done to them. The characters in this book are those people, those animals, and that time and place.
This is also the story of the personal relationship between my new bride and me as we learn to cope with being away from family, making new friends in a community foreign to us, and being Jewish in an area of the country with few Jews and a history of anti-Semitism. The story is complicated by the strained relationship between the veterinarian I work for and his wife and her family.
David R. Gross graduated from Colorado State University’s veterinary school in 1960 and was in private practice for ten years. He enrolled in graduate school and earned a M.Sc. degree in 1972 and a PhD degree in 1974 from the Ohio State University. He taught and did research at Texas A & M University; College of Veterinary Medicine for sixteen years then became Director of the Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Research labs at the University of Kentucky, College of Medicine for five years. He retired in 2006 after twelve years as Professor and Head of Veterinary Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Gross’ expertise is in cardiovascular physiology. He is a Fellow of the Cardiovascular Section of the American Physiological Society. He published over ninety papers in refereed scientific journals and over a hundred abstracts in proceedings of scientific meetings. He co-edited three multi-authored textbooks and his single author text, “Animal Models in Cardiovascular Research” is in most medical libraries. Springer released the completely revised third edition of this text in July of 2009. Since retirement, Dr. Gross has been busy writing both fiction and non-fiction.read more