Veterinary college alumna publishes two books recalling colorful tales of caring for animals
September 8, 2023
Veterinarians collect many interesting real-life stories as they work with animals and clients.
Melinda G. McCall, DVM ’04 has put some of her experiences as a veterinarian into writing, with two books currently on the market, released in early August.
McCall, a large-animal veterinarian based in Louisa, Virginia, retells many of the colorful happenings of her life and work – including her years at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine – in “Driving Home Naked: And Other Misadventures of a Country Veterinarian,” published by She Writes Press.
Concurrently, McCall has also published a children’s book, “The Million Dollar Goat,” released by Argyle Fox Publishing, which retells the misfortunes of a goat she treated for one young client.
“Veterinary medicine is now majority female,” said McCall, who spends most days driving her truck to examine and treat animals in central Virginia for Louisa Veterinary Service, which she owns. “But almost all the stories written about it are written by men.”
McCall was encouraged by a client who had been a newspaper editor to put the oral recollection of her experiences into written form. McCall also hired a writing coach who helped her develop the stories in the form of a memoir.
“I took a class about every week or sometimes every other day, to learn how to change the stories into a memoir and how to let people hear my voice through a piece of paper,” McCall said. “I think that was my biggest fear, that they couldn't hear me through the paper. But I just learned while I drove, and then I’d go home at night and try to polish up the stories a little bit, make sure that they flowed good together.”
The title, “Driving Home Naked,” may strike some oddly, but if you’re a large-animal veterinarian, you know.
“It's kind of weird and funny, but most veterinarians immediately understand it,” McCall said. “They say, ‘Oh, you put a uterus back in a cow, didn't you?’ And I answer: ‘Yep, twice, because it fell out. She fell down, and it fell out.’ “
Soaked in blood all the way through her clothes, McCall said she “sent the farmer away” and removed everything to drive home, under the cover of darkness, only clad in a pair of rubber boots. “There was no other option, really,” she said.
McCall’s children’s book “The Million Dollar Goat,” illustrated by Laraib I. Sukhera, focuses on one animal she has treated and fulfills a promise she made to the goat’s owner.
“A little girl had a goat that had a series of misfortunes,” McCall said. “And, so, she’s called the ‘Million Dollar Goat’ because the girl told me that's what she thought she spent with me on this goat."
“I told her one day: ‘When you get in college and you need money, we're going to write the story of the goat. And then we're going to sell it so you can get money for your books. The goat’s going to pay you back one day.’ … So finally, I'm thinking, ‘Okay, I have to get off my butt and write that goat story.’ “
McCall grew up on a dairy farm near Glade Spring in Southwest Virginia’s Washington County. She attended Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., for her undergraduate biology degree before getting her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Virginia Tech. She was named the veterinary college’s Outstanding Recent Alumna in 2014.
“I tried to pick a lot of funny stories because I like to be funny, and that helps me deal with some of the hard work that I have to do,” McCall said. “And then there's sad stories that are interspersed in between the funny because you don't want it to be too depressing. And then there's weird stories so people can understand how interesting our job is, and how different it is from day to day.”