It’s my first review of 2019, and we’re starting it off with a good’un. In case you missed it, Becoming the Supervet: Listening to the Animals by Noel Fitzpatrick made it into my Top Reads of 2018 list.
You may have watched the TV programme, The Supervet, or have heard of the man who works wonders with animals. Becoming the Supervet goes behind the scenes, and takes you on Fitzpatrick’s journey from his upbringing, to where he is now.
Growing up on the family farm in Ballyfin, Ireland, Noel’s childhood was spent tending to the cattle and sheep, the hay and silage, the tractors and land, his beloved sheepdog Pirate providing solace from the bullies that plagued him at school. It was this bond with Pirate, and a fateful night spent desperately trying to save a newborn lamb, that inspired Noel to enter the world of veterinary science – and set him on the path to becoming The Supervet.
We meet the animals that paved the way to Fitzpatrick Referrals, one of the most advanced small animal specialist centres in the world, from calving cows and corralling bullocks to talkative parrots and bionic cats and dogs.
Listening to the Animals is a story of love, hope and compassion, and about rejoicing in the bond between humans and animals that makes us the very best we can be.
It’s just so pure
Trying to tear myself away from this book was so difficult. This memoir is a heart-warming account of where the man we all know and love has reached where he is today, and boy, are there some anecdotes to make you laugh and cry along the way.
I know I’m pretty bias because I adore this guy for saving so many animals (and dogs, because I heckin’ love DOGS), but it is an incredible read. From his parents, to his successes and failures, as well as images and lots of language I couldn’t understand (I was googling quite a lot), the whole book is perfect.
Fitzpatrick’s voice is portrayed in his writing, and I’m pretty sure that the voice that helps me read in my brain turned Irish for 3 hours. There are some parts which are in incredible detail, especially when it comes to his scientific knowledge and studies, but also the description of his homeland and adventures. It’s just so pure.
I did tear up several times, but I didn’t sob as I thought I would (except the end, help me), but instead it’s more “wow, what an incredible guy” type of vibe. Especially as every high and low Fitzpatrick faced, he turned it into a lesson and took something away with him. Some chapter ends act as acknowledgements, or a ‘thank you’ message to a particular person, and that made me choke up on many occasions.
Going into Listening to the Animals, I think you need to gently remind yourself that this isn’t too much about the bionic animals and practice which Fitzpatrick is so well-known for now. It’s a lot more personal, with a bit of science injected into it and much about his studies and changing the way people think.
A genuine inspiration with very important lessons. I just want to give Fitzpatrick a cuddle.
I would strongly recommend reading this. What the author is trying to teach is such an important message, and despite the last page and epilogue which tore my heart in half, I loved it.
P.S. There’s a photo of Fitzpatrick in the first set of pictures wearing a Nike shirt. Just buy the book for that picture, ladies. You can thank me later.
An unforgettable memoir.
Becoming the Supervet: Listening to the Animals, Noel Fitzpatrick, RRP £20 (hardback); Book Depository
Genre: Non-fiction / Memoir