I recall reading All Creatures Great and Small many years ago, while working as a veterinary technician for a mobile vet in Los Angeles. We worked with cats and dogs, of course, but with farm animals, too, and apes and monkeys and angry pet raccoons, burros, crows, macaws– the variety of pets in Los Angeles was limitless. During that wonderful time, I'd be beaten senseless by a kangaroo, held hostage by a love-struck chimpanzee, chased by angry hogs, and sat on by a miniature horse inside of a well-known celebrity's home. It was a magical time, and it made perfect sense for me to read Herriot in the evenings, a grand fellow who'd roam the English countryside making veterinary house calls, effortlessly moving from draft horses to kittens, healing, telling stories. I felt a kinship with him and his magical world, and marveled at his talent for drawing me into his cast of characters. Later in life, when I too would write of my experiences with animals and their people, I would hearken to Herriot's Yorkshire Dales, and to prose so genuine that it would help inspire my own career as a writer and pet behaviorist. Herriot to me remains a superhero of sorts, who, in visiting home after home like some veterinary Santa, taught me how simple, heartwarming prose about people and their animals could rise above the commonplace, and become art.
Steve Duno, author of Last Dog on the Hill, The Everything Cat Book and The Amazing Dog Trick Book