Off the shelves 

‘Canada’s James Herriot’ to read

Who: Dave Perrin

What: Author reading

Where: Whistler Public Library, April 20, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Pemberton Public Library April 21, 7 p.m.

By the time he was seven, Dave Perrin knew he would be a veterinarian – but he never counted on becoming a writer along the way.

"If you would have told me back then that I was going to be a writer, I wouldn't have believed it," says Perrin, whose first book of non-fictional stories was self-published in 2000.

Don't Turn Your Back in the Barn: Adventures of a Country Vet chronicles the comical, chaotic and tragic moments that occurred during Perrin's first year as a veterinarian in Creston, B.C. Perrin's teachers wouldn't have believed it either. Slotted into remedial reading groups throughout school, Perrin was told he "wasn't university material." Ignoring his high school counsellor's advice, Perrin attended Selkirk College and the University of British Columbia before being accepted at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

Perrin's writing talent emerged while he was in Saskatoon. Some of his poems eventually made the pages of WCVM's student newspaper, The Probe while Perrin was its editor.

After graduating in 1973, Perrin started his own mixed practice in B.C.'s Creston Valley. Perrin's days often extended into the nights, and there was little time to enjoy the rugged landscape of the Kootenays. But more than 20 years later, those first months of emergencies, calamities, and unforgettable patients and clients became the basis for Perrin's first book.

In 1998, Perrin left his Creston practice and spent a year in Hawaii, where he fleshed out stories about the amorous Sweet William, straight-talking Verna Levett, and Mouse, the endurable St. Bernard.

One chapter even describes his chance encounter with WCVM's Dean Larry Smith – a meeting that set the course of Perrin's future.

Like James Herriot, Perrin uses rich detail to describe his surroundings and his veterinary practices.

"I enjoyed reading Herriot's books because I always felt like I was there," explains Perrin. "Yet you have to be careful because you don't want to use so much detail that you lose people."

At the same time, Perrin wanted to accurately depict the demanding life of a veterinarian. "I hope my book will encourage people to enter the profession, but I'm not so sure it will. Maybe it will tip the balance for one reader, while for another, it may make them choose dentistry."

When no publisher showed interest in his manuscript, Perrin created his own business – Dave's Press. Fortunately, Perrin found a talented group of local people who took care of editing and graphic design. B.C. artist Wendy Liddle illustrated the book's chapters and front cover.

Soon, Perrin hopes to add more books to the shelves of Dave's Press. A second book of veterinary adventures, Dr. Dave’s Stallside Manner: More adventures of a country vet, was published in 2001.

The Whistler Public Library is proud to present a free public reading by author/veterinarian Dr. Dave Perrin on Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Library. Dr. Perrin will also be reading at the Pemberton Public Library on Sunday, April 21 at 7 p.m. These author visits are made possible by a "Writers in Libraries" grant from the Public Library Services Branch of the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services.


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