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Viva el Vet!
By David Grant

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Viva el Vet

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Viva El Vet!
From Animal Hospital to a Colombian Practice
By David Grant
Charnwood Large Print Edition, (2002)
ISBN: 07089-9400-8
Genre: Autobiography

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - April 8, 2003

In 1973, David Grant left his safe and busy life in England and ventured forth to Columbia for an extended adventure. A trip that turned out more adventurous than he ever imagined! Before embarking on his grand adventure, Grant had been a vet at the RSPCA Animal Hospital in Harmsworth. At the time, England was going through some economical troubles that resulted in power outages and other annoyances that resulted in the hospital having to ration the services they were offering.

When he received word that his girlfriend, Gloria Ruiz, had organized a veterinary job for him in Medellin, Columbia, Grant jumped on the offer. After all, with the cutbacks and other problems facing the Animal Hospital, Grant's services were no longer vital and his coworkers could handle the current work load. In short, it was an ideal chance for him to take a sabbatical from his job, and he did. From the moment Grant landed in Columbia, it was apparent that he was in for a major case of culture shock. First off, he found that despite knowing Spanish, the Spanish spoken in Columbia was almost unintelligible to him. In addition, he was faced with having to learn to deal with a new boss who expected him to stay in Columbia forever, and wanted to buy out part of his practice - an idea that Grant was not totally comfortable with.

In Viva El Vet!, David Grant chronicles his life in Columbia and surrounding areas. Grant's life in South America was anything but dull, and his day to day activities where punctuated by muggings, being shot at, dealing with Mafia bosses and drug lords, and with various romantic interludes. An example of one of his adventures occurred when thieves stole a valuable microscope from his office, then tried to resell the stolen microscope to him. When Grant refused, he found himself hauled off to the local jail. Had it not been for some influential friends, Grant might still be in that prison today. Definitely not the kind of adventure that most travelers go looking for!

From reading this book, it is obvious that, overall, Grant enjoyed his time in Columbia. Plus, there were aspects of the encounter that surprised him. One of which was that everyone considered him to be a rich American. Even after he explained, on numerous occasions that he was English, he could not escape being viewed as an American. Despite the common notion that Grant was rich, he wasn't. In fact, his salary was inadequate to cover his needs and he had to take a second job teaching English to make ends meet!

After his 'escape' from Columbia, Grant returned to England and continued to work as a veterinarian, eventually becoming the director of the RSPCA Harmsworth Animal Hospital. To find out why he had to 'escape' from Columbia you'll have to read the book - I don't want to say too much about the thrilling climax to this wonderful tale!

Viva El Vet! is written in true "James Harriot" style. Not only does Grant chronicle his adventures, but he also provides details about the animals he treated - and their owners. He also discusses some of the unique problems faces by Columbian pet owners - such as having their dogs stolen and held for ransom, and the disease unique to the region.

Grant's writing is lively, and the story so engrossing that you'll have a hard time putting the book down. Best of all, this book is fun to read, and after reading this book I'm sure you will also want to read Grant's other books: Tales From the Animal Hospital, A Year in the Life of the Animal Hospital, and Just Practicing besides penning some marvelous books about the life of a modern vet, Grant also 'starred' in Animal Hospital, his own TV series about veterinary medicine that aired on the BBC.

Viva el Vet can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of Charnwood. You can also buy this book by contacting Ulverscroft via email at:

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