An anecdotal journey of self-discovery, William’s Gift tells the story of one woman’s life as a country veterinarian with honesty and humility. Through the trials and tribulations of learning on the job, this committed caregiver learns the ropes of caring for animals both great and small. Tales after “tail” of humorous and often heart-wrenching stories illuminate the deeply emotional connection between the ever-stoic animals and the author. Running through these stories is the common thread of compassion for the special creatures with whom we share our lives. A foundation of knowledge and lore is built lovingly, brick by brick. Dr. Douglas’s career path becomes a winding country road, and negotiating the twists and turns that lead from city clinic to rural farm challenges her both personally and professionally. Framed by her love of Lanark County and horses, these memoirs contain something to delight every animal lover. In the end, the journey becomes the greatest teacher, and the realization of where that journey takes her will be as rewarding to the reader as it is to the author. It is only then that the true nature of William’s Gift is understood.
Dr. Helen Douglas was born in Nova Scotia, but has lived most of her life in her beloved Ottawa Valley. Helen’s veterinary career has spanned more than three decades and has taken her from humble log bars in Lanark to Olympic show barns in Toronto and the Fraser Valley in B.C. It has encompassed a very wide and fulfilling range of animals and experiences, from treating injured deer and vaccinating feral cats in bags to breeding imported show dogs from England and warmblood horses from Europe.
Helen has travelled and practised extensively, including in England and the Bahamas, but has returned to the Ottawa Valley with the full conviction that there is nothing you might want out of life that you can’t get in Lanark County. She began riding in 1965 and plans to continue well past her fiftieth anniversary of first getting on a horse. Thus began a love affair that would last a lifetime and take her on horseback all over Canada, the US, Ireland, South America, and beyond. Helen’s avid interest in other cultures and travel has led her to Lesotho, South Africa, where in affiliation with the humanitarian group Help Lesotho, she volunteered in an orphanage for three months in 2008. She maintains her connection with them by assisting with their Web site and farm and sponsoring several children.