James Herriot reminisces about the cold winter days in Yorkshire. He treats a horse with a new medicine and supplements it with an older type, just to help. Instead, the horse collapses, and he and the owner both worry that the horse has died. Herriot fears he added one medicine too many, but just then the horse regains his footing, and the spots he was suffering from are nearly gone. Herriot learns a lesson about using too much technology when the new drugs are more effective.
Every sense heightened by his near-loss of the lovely horse, Herriot notices everything around him more fully. He walks in heather with his dog, wondering anew at the countryside where he works, with all of its wonders and natural beauty. Sadly, he has to head along to his other farm calls for the day. Herriot treats a dog who has been eating the chips from fish and chips, which is what his owner always feeds him. When Herriot has found a medication to help him, he realizes that the tender beef they keep to hide pills in doesn’t tempt this dog. So, he writes the prescription order for the meds to be given with chips.
Herriot has just endured three nights of lambing, and is feeling the effects. He heads to the local confectioner for some cough drops, and enjoys watching the way the man interacts with his candies and with his customers. The confectioner’s cat sits on the counter and is as much a part of the show as the owner of the shop. When the cat takes ill, Herriot is sad to see that it affects the owner as well. He loses weight, and his banter with his customers. After Herriot heals the cat, the owner is soon himself once again.
Herriot gets a newer vehicle since his Austin can’t be driven anymore, and this brings some of his less charitable clients to accuse him of overcharging them, to be able to afford a newer car. Herriot never overcharges people, and even treats some animals without pay, so these taunts affect him. His spirits are lifted when he visits his “nephew”, Tricki-Woo, a Pekingese whose owner dotes on him. They talk about a new Chinese restaurant in Darrowby, and Herriot determines to visit it more often, since it’s just a small, new business.
Tricki-Woo’s owner has given Herriot a suit that her late husband had ordered, but Herriot and his wife laugh when he tries it on, since the man was obviously much bigger than he. They decide to try and have it altered, since it’s a very expensive suit. Herriot delivers a difficult calf, using an epidural to slow the cow from pushing so hard, so that he can get a hand in to get the calf’s legs. As he drives away from the farm, he recalls how much more difficult the farmer’s life is than his.
Herriot is speaking to the local dairy board on behalf of a farmer friend, who wants his dairy TB-test license. He wears his newly-altered suit, and sweats the whole way to the meeting, and during the meeting’s first two hours until it’s his turn to speak. The committee enthusiastically agrees to the license, and mentions after he leaves how dapper he looked.
Herriot recalls farm visits with his then-young son Jimmy along as his helper. Jimmy doesn’t get in the way, and shines the flashlight beam right where it is needed. His daughter Rosie is the self-appointed gate-opener, which saves Herriot a lot of work. They both take their jobs seriously. Jimmy even second-guesses his father about a possible case of mastitis, and Herriot is embarrassed that his son is right, but pleased, too. Jimmy disappears after school one day, and everyone is worried until they find him in farmer Suggett’s barn, where he has just learned to milk a cow. Herriot looks on his children now, and Jimmy is a vet, and Rosie is a doctor. He ponders that she could have been a good vet, too.
Herriot is called dishonest in this chapter, and he is stunned by the statement. He has always tried to do his honest best. A veterinarian from a nearby town thinks that Herriot and Farnon are stealing his clients, when actually they only do what is asked, and always talk to him when a client of his shows up at their office. Things look worse when that veterinarian is out of town and his prized hunter colic’s. Siegfried and James cure the horse, but are worried what will happen when the other veterinarian finds out. But they needn’t have worried. The veterinarian is thankful for their help and even invites them to dinner.
Herriot recalls a woman and her dog, and she always thought something was wrong with the dog. He was the healthiest dog one could want, but she always found something she thought was wrong, and the vets at Skeldale House gave him shots or vitamins to make his owner feel better. One night, Herriot has been ill and is in a delusional state when this woman comes into surgery. He tells her there is nothing wrong with her dog and there hasn’t been anything wrong with him for all her visits. She is quite shocked. He fears after he is himself again, that she will file charges, but instead she thanks him for explaining that she had been pestering the practice for unneeded services.
John Crooks, who has helped at the practice before, has been hired as a full-time assistant. Herriot worries about him, but as it turns out, he is a splendid veterinarian, good with the animals and very confident and cool with the clients, as well. As much as Herriot is happy for John, he knows he is bound for bigger and better things.
John introduces Herriot to his girlfriend Heather, whom he will ask to be his wife. She lives in his home town of Beverley. One day shortly after that, John is on a farm call and gets word that Heather is sick. His vehicle is stuck, so he gets a ride to the train station and leaves to be with her. Happily, her illness is not serious. Herriot realizes that John is a man who makes decisions quickly and correctly. John will eventually become the President of the British Veterinary Association.
Herriot is determined to get a smaller place to live for himself, Helen and the kids. Skeldale House is too damp and drafty, and there is too much work to be done to keep it up. He feels badly that Helen has to do that. He meets a widow who is selling her house, but it goes to auction, and Herriot bids 1000 pounds more than he can afford, and still doesn’t get the house for Helen. But he finds out it wasn’t all a lost cause, since the widow appreciates the additional funds the auction brought to her.
Mr. Dowson is a vet’s best friend. He thinks every medication that Herriot has used has been like a magic potion, that instantly has restored his animals to good health. His newest case is a calf that keeps knocking over the milk bucket instead of drinking. Herriot doesn’t want to leave the man with no hope of ridding the calf of the habit, so he gives the calf a shot and the calf no longer knocks his bucket over. Another miracle for Herriot, or at least Mr. Dowson thinks so.
Old Dick Fawcett has no one in the world except his cat, “Frisk”. The cat has brought laughter into a sad house. Fawcett brings the cat into the surgery, feeling he is dead, or near dead. Herriot finds a heartbeat, and gives the cat a stimulant. The next day the cat is fine, but every other day he collapses again. As it turns out, the cat has been licking the saucer of medications that Mr. Fawcett is taking for late stage cancer. Herriot sees Frisk and his owner in the man’s bed and the man is calling the cat’s name softly. Dick Fawcett dies later that day.
Calum Buchanan arrives at the Darrowby train station for his new job as assistant veterinarian with his pets – a massive dog and a badger. They get quite a few looks, as one might imagine. They’re not sure what to think of him, so when they get a call in for someone to help with a calving, Siegfried sends Calum to the farm. After a few hours, he and Herriot start to worry, but Calum returns and tells them he did a successful Caesarean section. They check the farm, to be sure, and the cow is neatly stitched and the calf looks fat and happy. They still think Calum is odd, but there is no doubt that he is a good veterinarian, so far.
Mrs. Coates brings a big dog into surgery to have his anal glands cleaned out, and Herriot thinks the dog is not objecting to the procedure, because his tail is wagging. But the dog comes at him with teeth bared, and Herriot is quite surprised that he would come so close to a successful attack while wagging his tail. Later, worried about robbers in Mrs. Coates’ neighborhood, he visits she and her dog Wolfie at home. As it turns out, someone did try to rob her – but Wolfie attacked one of the men and chased them away.
Herriot works on a Clydesdale with a hoof abscess in this chapter. The horse kicks and bites at him, so he decides to bring back the blacksmith to help, since the horse is shod. Herriot picks up Denny, the farrier, and tries to warn him about the ill-mannered horse. Denny is afraid of the farmers’ dogs, but he catches the Clydesdale’s foot, and uses the hoof knife to pare away until he has drained the abscess. They head along to the next farm, where Denny worries about bad dogs again, even though he has no trouble with horses.
Herriot and Calum head to a bar after a farm call, but Calum’s pet badger brings pandemonium to the place. Calum also meets the Herriot family, including Dinah, their overweight beagle. Dinah likes Calum right away, as Herriot is to learn most animals do. Calum plays their piano and harmonica, and their concertina. Marilyn the badger gets chimney soot all over the Herriot’s furniture, so even while the children had enjoyed her, Herriot isn’t sure about Calum and the badger.
Herriot recalls the tailor, Mr. Bendelow, in this chapter. The man speaks more than he stitches, and the customer he is speaking to left her coat at his shop three months ago and it still isn’t done. Herriot just has some pants he wants fixed, as they are frayed at the bottom. Mr. Bendelow talks Herriot’s ears off, but doesn’t look at the pants to be fixed. An irate customer comes in, but the tailor’s big dog keeps him at bay. The dog is seen at the surgery soon afterward, but the pants are still not done. The man is quite a talker, but not so much a tailor.
Herriot is called out to a lambing in the middle of the night. It’s cold, and he doesn’t want to go out. The ewe is out in a field, and the one lamb inside is very large. He delivers the big lamb and washes up. He gets to be home to eat breakfast, but then has to go out to remove a cow’s afterbirth. Each of these procedures involves soaping up the arms, and his arms are nearly raw from the scrubbing and the cold. At the Birrell farm, however, the grandmother takes care of him, with expensive soap and fluffy towels. The grandmother has passed away now, though. As it turns out, she has trained her grand-daughter to do the same thing for Herriot.
Herriot remembers the day his partially-built house blew down. He had bid on another house for Helen, still feeling badly about her keeping up with all the chores at Skeldale House, but the bidding once again went too high for his budget. He and Helen design a house, but progress is slow. The house is rebuilt after the wind storm, and they have the house of their dreams.
Calum has bought a badger friend for Marilyn, and he has the run of Skeldale House. Siegfried is not pleased, but is interrupted by a farm call for a horse. Calum and Herriot work on a ewe with ringwomb. Calum sees a cage of cats when they finish, and wonders why they are being sent to another vet to be spayed. Calum tries to spay a cat and can’t find the uterus, and Herriot is called away on an emergency farm call. Calum spays three cats while no one is watching, and then more are admitted, and he calls Herriot to watch, but cannot find the uterus once again. The piece of tissue he keeps grabbing is nick-named Herriot’s duct.
Herriot is pondering the changes in their new home, and not missing the drafty cold of Skeldale House. The kids are enjoying playing practical jokes on their dad. Yet he remembers more fond things about Skeldale House, too, the times with Tristan and Siegfried. James wonders if they will ever be as happy as in their days at Skeldale.
People are starting to ask for Calum when they call into the practice, in this chapter. He is a good vet, just as John Crooks was. Calum is harder to keep track of, though, and Herriot needs to know when he is available between farm calls. Calum begins to call in, asking permission to eat, and that becomes a standing line at the practice.
Herriot is planning to build a grass tennis court in his back yard for the children, and for he and Helen. He buys a bunch of netting from a retiring fishermen. Helen fears that he has been taken in, and sure enough, there are many large holes in the netting. Herriot looks for other ways to spruce up the back yard, and he orders some protective cloches for the plants. These arrive in a small envelope, and look to be worthless. Helen arranges to buy a rug of dubious origin, and says that the seller is on his way back, to see James. Now James has something to keep over Helen, because the rug is a fake.
Herriot speaks in this chapter about Bouncer, a border collie who is a true gamesman. His owner is a bit of an exaggerator. Later, Bouncer has taken ill, and Herriot is shocked by his appearance. Bouncer has diabetes. Herriot gives Bouncer shots of insulin to stabilize him, and he begins to look a bit more like himself. He will get better. And, as it turns out, Bouncer’s owner does know nearly as many famous cricket players as he has always said.
Herriot believes that most of his clients see him as capable, but not brilliant. And he is relatively sure that at least one client thinks he’s not right in the head. The Hardwicks are that family. He has taken their father’s eyeglasses by accident, and locked his keys in his car at their farm, among other things. In addition, he asks the farmers to get extra help to slip a cow’s hip back into place, and she does it herself when she rolls over.
Herriot helps with medications for an elderly man’s equally elderly dog. While he is there, he gets the man’s television to show a proper picture. When the man calls him back three days later, he is afraid the old dog has died. Instead, the man needs help with his television again.
Herriot meets Farmer Whitehead’s new hand, a young man named Basil. Herriot is checking a lame cow for Whitehead. He cleans out the cow’s abscess, and Basil invites him in to wash up. Herriot notices that Basil does things differently than most barn hands. He is elegant and graceful, but not too much like the average farmer. Herriot checks on some of Whitehead’s calves that have the scours. He leaves medication for them, but they don’t look any better on his next visit. After an overnight snow, Herriot stops in, and there are no tracks in the snow outside the barns at Whitehead’s farm. Basil has not given the calves their medications. Later, Herriot and Helen travel to Brawton, where Basil is now working as a waiter, and he seems much more at home.
Calum asks Herriot if he would like to do some nature-walking with him. Herriot knows he doesn’t know as much about the flora and fauna of the area as he should. Herriot doesn’t know that accepting Calum’s invitation will mean riding bareback draft horses to the lookout site. They would see many deer, after Herriot bangs his leg on a gate post. Afterwards, Calum invites Herriot to dinner, which is a not-fully-plucked duck. It has been a Calum day.
Herriot and Siegfried head out to call on a local man’s horse and an ailing calf. William Hawley has a sick calf, but Siegfried is his hero, so he has hope that all will be well. Siegfried asks for a length of string, and the farmer thinks it’s to help cure the calf. Instead, it’s for Siegfried’s coat. He injects the calf with a B-vitamin for a brain anomaly, and the calf is better the next day. Herriot thinks that the farmer wistfully wishes that the string had been part of the cure, so it would have been more magical.
Herriot visits Siegfried at his home in the evening after a farm call nearby. They talk about televisions and the farmers of the area. Siegfried points out a few things that Herriot has forgotten to attend to of late. This is ironic, because Siegfried forgets more things than anyone Herriot knows. In fact, as they speak, the phone rings, and it is someone who is waiting for Siegfried, at a speaking engagement that Siegfried has missed.
Calum wants to bring another dog to his flat, and Siegfried is upset, since the man already has two badgers and a dog now. Finally, Siegfried breaks down and says that it’s alright for Calum to get another dog, from his mother’s house. Instead, Calum has two more dogs when Siegfried next sees him. The Dobermans block Siegfried in the outhouse when he needs the loo in a hurry, and Calum has to call them off. Herriot feels guilty, because he helped talk Siegfried into letting Calum bring in “one” more dog.
Herriot prepares to head out to see a sick calf and a dog who is ill. The Labrador is in a basket and the family completely ignores him as they watch the television. The dog has mange, and Herriot gives the medication to the father. Herriot leaves for the Farrow’s farm, to check their calf. He injects the calf and the farmer wraps the calf’s chest to keep him warm. Herriot feels good for the future health of the calf, but worries about the dog, that he won’t get his proper treatments. Herriot visits the dog’s home, and the family has done no treatments on their poor dog. Herriot treats the dog himself, as a neighbor watches, and the next Monday, the neighbor is giving the dog his medicinal bath. As it turns out, the neighbor has taken on the dog, by convincing the original owners that his vet bills will be high. A few weeks later, Herriot sees Jet, the dog, with his new owners, and his coat is healthy and shiny.
Mr. Busby calls Herriot out to work on his cow, and is upset when Herriot is delayed at surgery working on a dog. He feels that the cow is his livelihood, and is more important than a pet. A few weeks later, Helen gives James a message from a client that is bringing in a dog, but he has an emergency farm call for a bull, which he attends to first. When he comes back, the client in his office with a dog is Mr. Busby, who is now chastising Herriot for dealing with farm stock before pets.
Herriot receives a call from the police about a possible robber, but he knows it’s just Bernard, the younger brother of a sister who runs a farm outside Darrowby. He is always being berated by his sister, and he is not really from farmer stock. When he has to assist with anything that smells, he puts on a bandana. The veterinarians at Skeldale House have taken to calling him Cisco Kid, and that’s who the police thought was a robber.
Herriot muses that sometimes he works figurative miracles at some farms, with little acknowledgment or appreciation. At one farm, he constantly has excellent luck with bringing animals back to health, but the barn hands never even look at him. One day, he happens to take out his winnings from the football pool, which he occasionally bets on successfully. Suddenly the barn hands are all ears, and he does several coupons for them, and they all win. He tells them he won’t do that anymore, but he does win over 77 pounds on the pool, and he tells Siegfried that if he’d only had one more draw, he would have won sixteen thousand pounds. Siegfried spreads the rumor that Herriot won sixteen thousand pounds, and suddenly all the barn hands look at him with what he feels he earns at his job – respect.
Herriot is having trouble with a calving, but can’t quite reach as far into the heifer as he needs to. He recalls that Calum is at a neighboring farm, and they call him over. He and Herriot work on the calf together, with no initial luck. While they rest, Calum tells Herriot that he is getting married soon. They deliver the calf, and Herriot gets to meet Calum’s fiance, but there will be no public wedding. They are married in a private ceremony. They have a brief honeymoon, and Herriot thinks that the new wife would make Calum’s quarters less spartan, but she doesn’t. She is exactly in tune with him, and that is with nature and the outdoors.
Calum acquires another badger named Bill in this chapter. He conveniently doesn’t tell Siegfried. Siegfried asks Calum to release an owl that Calum has worked on, since it has regained its health. There is also a family of foxes living in Skeldale House. Then it turns out that he is also babysitting a monkey while his owner is on holiday. Later, Herriot walks in on Calum and his zoo of animals. In addition, Calum tells Herriot that his Doberman is pregnant. Herriot knows this will not be a good thing for Siegfried, since it looks like all the animals will be staying.
Herriot discovers an igloo-type shelter by the gate of a farm where he is to do some TB testing. A man and his cat come from the shelter, greet Herriot, and head off walking toward town. He tells the farmer what he has seen, and the farmer says that he’s met Eugene, then. He’s been living there for some time, and Herriot has only just now visited the farm, so he hasn’t seen him before. He is the brother of a millionaire. A few days later, Herriot returns to check the TB test results, and Eugene is sitting in a chair outside his structure. His cat makes friends with Herriot. Herriot is a cat lover, and it appears that the cat can sense this. Herriot accepts an invitation to tea, after checking the TB tests. They have tea in the igloo, for lack of a better term. From then on, Herriot visits Eugene whenever he goes to the Carless farm. He talks to Eugene about having Emily the cat spayed, since she may encounter Tom cats in her wanderings. Eugene is worried about his cat having an operation. Next time Herriot visits, though, the cat is already pregnant. Herriot sees someone he thinks is Eugene at a formal meeting not long afterward, and he is surprised at the man’s elegant dress. As it turns out, it is the millionaire brother he sees. Later, Herriot sees that Emily the cat is having a hard time delivering her kittens, so he takes her to the surgery. As it turns out, she is only having one huge kitten. Herriot realizes that it will be difficult for Eugene to make his usual rounds with two cats, and he has found a home for the kitten, which Eugene accepts.
Nat Briggs is accidentally stuck with Herriot’s vaccine needle, and the other farm help are having a good laugh about it. Nat worries about having gotten some of the vaccine, but he didn’t. He complains about the event during subsequent visits by Herriot to the farm where they work. Later on, Nat tells Herriot that the vaccine (which he didn’t get any of) is preventing he and his wife from becoming pregnant. On a later farm call, the other workers, or the movements of the animal they are wrestling with, put Briggs on the business end of a needle again. The joke, after Nat and his wife are expecting, is that the second shot was the antidote for the first one.
Siegfried tells Herriot about a house coming up for sale outside Darrowby. Herriot has always liked to think about living in a tiny village in the countryside. Hannerly is a quiet, very small town with no pubs or street lights. Herriot and Helen visit the house and enjoy relaxing in the grass by the brook. They buy the house, and enjoy living like they are on the edge of the “real” world.
Herriot and Albert Budd have been roped into Calum’s Highland dance class, and they are exhausted – and Albert is gassy. The dances are fun to learn or re-learn, and Albert is pulled back to the floor for another dance. Herriot reflects that Calum has brought many changes to the town, including the dancing that is presently not going well for Albert.
Helen puts out some milk and food for a stray cat and her kittens, at their new house in Hannerly. They watch, and it appears that the mother is a feral cat, and she won’t allow her kittens to come to the porch – she grabs the food and takes it back to them. They make their new home in the log shed, but a few days later, the mother cat disappears. The kittens are accepting of the food and milk. Herbert Platt, a local dustman, comes to visit and says he has known the family of cats for a long time, and they won’t be domesticated. Herriot wants to alter the animals, so they won’t be breeding more feral cats. He catches them in a cat cage, and takes them to surgery. The cats struggle, but don’t scratch or bite, like even some of their domestic cats do in surgery. He lets them loose back at home after they have recovered. Eventually, Helen can pet them as they eat, but they won’t come inside, regardless of the weather. They will disappear for a few days at a time, but once they are gone for a week, and the Herriots think they have lost them. When the cats return, they are sick. Helen calls to them and they come right into the kitchen. Herriot gets drugs from the boot of his car, and treats them, but they don’t want to stay in the house. They allow themselves to be treated, though, and when they feel better, James has to put medication in their food, since they aren’t fully recovered yet. When they are fully recovered, they will no longer let James handle them.
Siegfried wants Herriot to go home from the surgery, since Herriot is sick. Siegfried tells Herriot that he cannot work, but that he can ride along with Calum on his rounds if he wants to. They have to walk a long way at their first farm, and Herriot introduces the farmer to Calum. The farmer Mr. Stott, thinks he is always right about everything. Calum asks the farmer what the sick cow’s symptoms are. The farmer rattles off some, and watches as Calum soaps up and inserts his arm into vagina and then rectum, but can’t find nothing wrong. Turns out that cow isn’t the one that was sick, and the farmer gets a good laugh. Calum keeps laughing, and then heads to the cow who is sick. He makes up symptoms and tells the farmer it will take two veterinarians and a great deal of money to cure her. The farmer is upset, and then Calum tells him it was all a joke, since he knows how much the farmer likes a good joke.
The Herriot’s “wild” cats are becoming more tame, but not toward James. Olly has long hair, and it gets matted, since he can’t be caught to be combed. He won’t let Helen trim his knots, either. Herriot drugs Olly’s food to anesthetize him, but he has to watch everywhere the cat walks, so that he won’t be sedated somewhere in the wild, where a predator could get at him. The cat isn’t completely drugged, and watches James as he clips the knots out. The cat looks better, but when he sees James the next morning, he runs away from their food.
Herriot is checking out a little dog that looks very afraid, and is shaking. The dog has a 105 temperature but no other symptoms. Herriot gives the dog a shot of an antibiotic, glad to be able to help, and sends the owner home with pills. The next day, he rechecks the dog and Robbie is no better. His temperature was still 105. A urine test also shows nothing. More tests, a different antibiotic and Robbie is no better. Herriot gives the dog a shot of dexamethasone and the dog is more himself the same afternoon. But a month later, Robbie has the same symptoms again. He treats him until he is better, but this same scenario plays out over years. Finally, the attacks worsen, and Robbie’s owner asks Herriot to put the dog down. He does as she asks, and she pats Robbie’s fur. Herriot’s memories of Robbie will not leave him. Molly, Robbie’s owner, dies only a few weeks after the dog did. Herriot has a bad day shortly afterward, when all the farmers he visits seem to be calling him a failure. He mentions his feelings to Helen, and she brings in something that has been recovered at Molly’s home sale. It is a framed photograph with “My Favorite Men” written across the top. In the photo are John Wayne, Sir Charles Armitage and James Herriot.
Herriot is called to the cottage of the Colwells, and the gas man, who is leaving, tells him that the family has fleas, on his way off the porch. Herriot thinks the man is daft, but he seems happy enough. He enters the house to see the family’s dog Roopy, who has been hit by a van. There is dust thick everywhere, and the house seems in disarray. The dog has no broken bones, but some acute discomfort, so Herriot gives him a shot for pain and an antibiotic. Mrs Colwell invites Herriot to stay for tea, and he does. When he gets back in the car, he feels prickles around his ankles. The gas man wasn’t daft, after all. He rushes home for a bath, and has Helen throw his clothes in the washer. They head out for their afternoon together, but James is feeling like he has fleas again, and it distracts him during their lunch. Surely enough, several fleas land on the tablecloth from his collar, and they finish, quickly pay and head out. They are going to be attending a concert with friends, so James bathes again and puts on a different suit. In the concert hall, he feels a flea once more. He is fairly sure there is only one, as he sits between their guests, and he tries to squash it, but draws their attention, since they are seated on either side of him. He makes it through the night, but a few days later, the Colwell’s call for him to clip a snagged nail on Roopy’s paw. He can’t get out of it, so he plans to go by a bicyclist’s house first, to get clips for his trousers.
Sister Rose has a terrier that Herriot is checking over. She takes in dogs whose owners have dumped them. Herriot feels rage for those people and pity for the dogs. He is at Sister Rose’s to check on the animals, and give them their required shots. The terrier has a broken hind leg that was never set, and he trembles when Herriot and Sister Rose speak. He is emaciated and needs love. Another dog has an infected foot. A man walks down the rows of cages. Herriot knows the man, a grocer who used to bring his dog in for routine treatment, until it died a few days back. Rupe, the grocer, is having trouble deciding on which one dog to take home. Herriot reassures him that Sister Rose won’t put down any unadopted animals – hers is a no-kill shelter. He seems to fancy the terrier that they have just been working on. The grocer and his dog arrive at Skeldale House a week later for inoculations. The terrier, Tritch, no longer looks emaciated and is no longer afraid of everything. The grocer would like Herriot to fix the little dog’s leg, if he can. Calum will help, as he appreciates new methods of surgery. Tritch’s leg heals nicely, but he still won’t bear any weight on it. Later, they travel to see the grocer’s induction as the mayor, and he has the little dog beside him, happily trotting on all four legs. Calum smiles at Herriot. Sometimes you win.
Herriot heads into a bar, The Lord Nelson Inn, to get a drink, passing Bob Stockdale at the bar. The inn used to be a quiet place where few gentlemen sat and drank, but now it is a raucous and busy place. Bob Stockdale still frequents the bar, and sits with his dog Meg. The dog is his cattle dog, and she is aging. They drink together for a bit, and Herriot watches Bob’s show as he tries to get on his bicycle after having too much to drink. Herriot sees Bob at the bar a few months later, but Meg isn’t with him. Herriot asks why not, and is told that she has cancer. He hasn’t consulted a vet, because he doesn’t want her put down, but she has a growth. Herriot explains that not all growths are cancerous. Herriot goes to Bob’s house, that he shares with his brother Adam, and checks Meg. He is reasonably sure he can remove the growth, and that it’s not cancerous. Bob doesn’t want to bring her in, so Herriot tells him that he can do the surgery there in Bob’s house. Bob can’t watch, once the surgery starts, but his brother helps. The tumor is removed and they share a cup of tea, Bob still a bit queasy from all the blood. Herriot sees Bob – and Meg – a month later, and both are themselves once more.
Calum is ready to head on to a new place to work, in Nova Scotia. It has a lot of desolated country, just the type of place Herriot feels that Calum will like. Siegfried bids Calum a fond farewell, too, but as they speak, a heron walks past in the hall. Once Calum leaves, the surgery is a quiet place, with none of his menagerie there. Calum opens an auction mart in addition to his veterinary practice, and trains Border Collies. He has six children, and still decides to leave his new practice, and move to Papua, New Guinea. He adds to his menagerie there, and soon has more animals than he did at Skeldale House.
Herriot still cannot get their stray cats to come to him, as Helen can. And he needs to trim Olly’s matted hair again. He catches him by hiding behind Helen when she feeds them. He and Siegfried work to remove the mats after they anesthetize the cat. The next day, Olly looks even better than his sister Ginny. But he flees at the first sight of Herriot. This weighs on Herriot, since his life is devoted to helping animals. Helen explains that they only see him when something they perceive as bad is going to happen, so he helps with the feeding and brings them milk. One day he is able to gently pet Olly on his chin. But sadly, less than two days later, Olly dies. It is perhaps a stroke, or some other brain problem. Ginny will not eat for days and it is obvious that she misses Olly as much or more than Helen and James do. It takes months for Ginny to befriend James as Olly had, since she was always more skittish. But it finally happens, and Herriot regards it as one of his greatest triumphs.