Dr. David Gross, author of the Ask the Edmonds Vet column in My Edmonds News, will be signing copies of his memoir, “Animals Don’t Blush,” at the Edmonds Bookshop, 523 Main St., starting at noon this Saturday, Aug. 20.
The book is set in Sidney, Montana located near the merger of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, an area of significant strategic importance in the fur trade at the turn of the 19th century. The memoir takes readers from the summer of 1960 until the fall of 1961, during which time Gross worked for clients who were determined, independent-minded and pragmatic.
“They expected their veterinarian to be physically tough, knowledgeable about all species of animals, and skilled in the practice of the profession,” Gross wrote. “The animal patients were the same as they are today. They were prone to the same illnesses and injuries. They were stoic, never embarrassed by anything they did or that was done to them.”
In 1960, Gross said, veterinary medicine was male-dominated and macho. “Patients had a monetary value and nobody expected veterinary care to exceed that value,” he said. “Chemical restraint of animals was in its infancy. Choices of antibiotics were limited. Clients expected their veterinarian to be tough, wise, skilled and able to handle any animal, any disease or injury, and any situation. There were no board certified specialists and advertising in any form — except for a modest listing in the Yellow Pages of the phone book — was considered to be malpractice.
In Gross’ class in veterinary school, there were 65 students, but only three women. All but a few of the students were from agricultural backgrounds. Today’s veterinary school classes are 75-85 percent female and almost everyone comes from a suburban background.
Now living in Edmonds, Gross graduated from Colorado State University’s veterinary school in 1960 and was in private practice for 10 years. He enrolled in graduate school at Ohio State University, earning a M.Sc. degree in 1972 and a Ph.D. degree in 1974. He retired in 2006 as Professor and Head of Veterinary Biosciences, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine. Gross is a Fellow of the Cardiovascular Section of the American Physiological Society.