Dr. Laurie Hess, veterinarian for exotic pets, author of “Unlikely Companions”

Dr. Laurie Hess—a veterinarian specializing in caring for exotic pets, and author of the new book “Unlikely Companions: The Adventures Of An Exotic Animal Doctor”—recounts growing up in a family that embraced a wide array of pets, how she herself loved animals as a child, and that’s also when she decided she wanted to be a veterinarian. Unlike most kids who declare the same 28957054career goal, Hess actually became a vet, propelled by ambition and laser-like focus (including attending Yale as an undergrad). Hess addresses the point at which she started contemplating a practice that would specialize in caring for birds and exotic animals, and what pulled her in that direction. A mother of two teenage songs, Hess outlines the components of any given workday—which tend to be exceptionally long and often grueling—starting at 5am with feeding and looking after the seven pets at home, various Mom duties, hitting othe gym (critical to her, as a Type 1 diabetic) and only then beginning her day of seeing patients at her hospital, Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics. Asked to cite a few animals she’d treated in recent days, Hess mentions a Bearded Dragon lizard (that hadn’t been exposed to enough ultraviolet light, spurring a calcium deficiency) and a rabbit, noting she sees a large number of rabbits at the Veterinary Center and dental problems are common, because rabbits’ teeth keep growing. Hess discusses other elements of “Unlikely Companions,” including a sugar glider-related mystery—not whodunnit so much as whatdunnit–that augments the book’s narrative drive. (http://avianexoticsvet.com, www.lauriehessdvm.com)


ALSO: I spoke briefly with Diane Koon, one of the organizers of the 7th Annual Tampa Bay Veg Fest, to be held Nov. 12 at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park. (www.tampabayvegfest.org)

COMEDY CORNER: Myq Kaplan’s “Ducks and Vegetarianism” (http://myqkaplan.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals



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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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