“All Dogs Go to Kevin” is a memoir by Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, a San Diego veterinarian who shares stories (some funny, some sad) about the lessons she’s learned taking care of pets.
The title gets its name from her son, who misheard where one of the family pets was headed after dying. What was a joke took on a different meaning when a close family friend, Kevin Workman, passed away.
Vogelsang works now with Paws Into Grace, a local vet practice that provides in-home hospice care and euthanasia. She’ll be at Warwick’s Aug. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Q: You make a joke in the acknowledgments about being a debut author with “Yet Another Dog Book.” Was that a concern of yours, and how did you get past it?
A: It’s very trendy right now and one of the things I notice, at least from my personal taste, is that a lot of the books do tend toward the overwrought, melodramatic, sappy stuff. I tried really, really hard to balance that and emphasize as well the fun and the absurdity.
We tend to focus on things like, “Did my dog save me from postpartum depression?” (one of the stories in her book) and yes, he did, but my favorite story to tell about Emmett is the poop-diaper part. You don’t get a dog because you think it’s going to save your life. You get one because they’re fun and they remind you to live life in the moment.
Q: Why we are so infatuated with our pets?
A: Let me say first that a lot of people have said to me, “What about cats?” and yes, they have their very own purpose. But I think there’s something about a dog because they have all of those human elements that we crave, this acceptance and this unconditional love, but they seem to lack the really nasty things that we don’t like about people. That’s just a very compelling combination to be able to have all the good parts of a best friend without having to deal with the hurt feelings and the petty jealousies.
Q: You mentioned the fun parts of dog ownership and your book has a lot of humor. Have you always been funny?
A: I like to think so. Other people might disagree. It was one of the things I touched on when I had Taffy (her childhood dog). I was a really serious kid and there’s some struggles with that. Having a dog helps you lighten up a little bit, and once you embrace the absurdity of life, it definitely makes it more entertaining and much easier to tolerate the difficult times.
Q: I gather it helps to have a sense of humor when you’re a vet.
A: Oh my gosh yes. We have a problem in our profession with stress and burnout because it is very emotionally taxing and I just don’t know how you can get through the day without that. There are some things you can’t help but laugh at. There are other things that are so sad there’s no way to get around them. You have to get your pleasure and your joy where you can.