Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
A modern James Herriot, Dr. Nick Trout has
captivated pet lovers with his bestselling tales
from the frontlines of veterinary medicine.
now Dr. Trout takes us behind the scenes
with tales from his own life as a pet lover,
and the dogs and cats that shaped his world.
From his English boyhood to his career and
marriage in the united States, Dr. Trout
introduces us to the memorable furry friends
who helped him through some especially difficult
times, including his daughter's diagnosis
with a serious illness. through poignant
recollections, Ever By My Side
journey of a man who followed his heart and
devoted his life to healing animals, while letting
them heal him in return.
Heartwarming and inspiring, Ever By My Side
celebrates the special joy that comes from
a beloved pet. We hope that the following
questions will enhance your reading group's
experience of this moving memoir.
- Dr. Trout begins by describing his earliest
experiences with dogs - his maternal grandmother's
toy poodle, Marty, and his paternal
grandmother's dalmatian, cleo. What do these
scenes reveal about the way humans and animals
reject or accept each other?
- What did Dr. Trout's parents teach him
about being a parent (including being the
"parent" of a pet)?
- Dr. Trout describes Patch as his father's
kindred spirit. What made this German
shepherd perfectly suited to father and son
in this case?
- James Herriot was clearly a role model for
Dr. Trout, and for his father. How did All
Creatures Great and Small compare to the
world Dr. Trout encountered as a veterinarian?
What lessons did Ryan James, the Trout
family's veterinarian, impart?
- What did Dr. Trout discover about himself
as he made the transition from Patch to
Whiskey? What did he discover about gender
and temperament by watching Patch and
- In addition to job opportunities, what did Dr.
Trout hope to gain by venturing to America?
in what ways was he suited to American culture?
What common ground did he find with
Kathy, who would become his wife?
- How was Dr. Trout transformed by his new
role as stepfather to Whitney, and to Reginald
C. Cat? What challenges did he endure
with Reggie that he had never encountered
- As Dr. Trout and his wife face Emily's
diagnosis, is their medical training a benefit
or a hindrance? How does Buster (the
brawny bulldog) change their perspective?
- What makes Sophie, the Jack Russell terrier,
hard for Dr. Trout to train? How was
the challenge different from when his
father had tried to train Patch?
- When Emily insisted on a yellow Labrador,
what personality traits was she hoping for?
In what ways did Meg fulfill the dream?
- When Dr. Trout's father adopts Sasha near
the end of the book, we're reminded that
pet ownership can mean cycles of attachment
and loss, and vibrancy and failing
health as the animals we love live out their
days. What does Ever By My Side ultimately
teach us about life, and about healing?
- describe the pet that made the biggest
difference in your life. What effect did you
and this pet have on each other?
- Discuss the book's title, Ever By My Side.
What does the book say about animals'
loyalty, as well as their need for independence?
- Were you surprised to discover that Fiona
eventually got a dog (a golden retriever, no
less, named Lily)? Dr. Trout's mother was also resistant to pets at first. What did it
take to persuade them to see the benefits
of canine companionship?
- Dr. Trout's previous books, Love Is the Best
Medicine and the bestseller Tell Me Where
It Hurts, capture his life as a veterinarian,
whereas Ever By My Side reveals his journey
with his own pets. did you enjoy this
inside look? What was it like for you to see
him in another light?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Broadway Books.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.