The Wonder of Lost Causes is a novel with a novel twist. Written by New Y0rk Times Best Selling author Nick Trout, this tale of tails wraps around the heart of anyone who has experienced a meaningful relationship with a pet.
As a full-time veterinary surgeon at Boston’s prestigious Angell Animal Medical Center, it’s no surprise Dr. Trout is fluent in the language of organic chemistry. While chemistry plays a variety of roles in this book, surprisingly there’s more to Dr. Trout’s story than science. The Wonder of Lost Causes is a love story that speaks to bonds shared between a boy, a bedraggled dog and concentric circles of folks they meet. The organic language of this story is as mystical as true love’s chemistry always is.
Three primary voices tell this tale. Eleven-year-old Jasper is a handsome Anglo-phile mesmerized by all-things soccer-centric. Despite his picture of health appearance, he struggles with life-altering, life-threatening cystic fibrosis. The genetic code of Jasper’s illness nearly suffocates the simplest of his dreams. Kate, Jasper’s exhausted, hyper-protective mom works as a vet in a local shelter. Single-by-choice, she’s isolated from soccer-mom cliques and the fray of family melodrama. Anxious and preoccupied the doctor’s mind races through the every-day paces of caring for her son as CF defines them both. Last but not least, is the curious voice of Whistler, a plain old ugly-to-the-bone rescue mutt, who seems to have chosen Jasper as his forever family, even if only for a while. The spontaneity of Whistler’s life, his expressions of love test boundaries and plot the story’s heartfelt direction.
Living and loving each other along the sandy shores of Cape Cod, the threesome’s time together includes a cross-country trip that traces some cruel realities of pet ownership as well as some of life’s greatest opportunities. Between landmarks, the troika’s more introspective journeys are echoed in suspense-filled conversations captured in breathless pauses.
The practicalities of running a veterinary hospital, the unapologetic responsibilities of kill shelters and the special considerations of service dogs are all features of this book that confronts issues of life and death with sensitivity. Dr. Trout uses the insights of each situation as teachable moments that consul humans to live as dogs do, “not bigger, not smaller, just more.”
The Wonder of Lost Causes celebrates in 440 pages the un-quantifiable value of simply “getting it” when you have bonded with a special pet. Readers fluent in love’s many languages will find this organic tale of tails prompt smiles, tears and cheers. Much like the unexpected surprise of a hugely sloppy doggy kiss this book is totally ~ To Di For!
In recognition of Cystic Fibrosis Month and May’s Pet Week, The Wonder of Lost Causes will be released on April 30th.
Under the Covers
Before grabbing a gab with University of Cambridge educated Dr. Trout, mistakenly I thought we could cut through his modern-day Dr. Dolittle bio with a fact-check of his surgical career and a running synopsis of his five prior books. I was wrong.
After some research it was clear this Brit of veterinary science brings more to his stories than imagination. He writes from the heart, of his heart. Inspired by fellow British veterinary surgeon and prolific writer, James Herriot, Dr. Trout uses his thirty years of experience to capture deeply meaningful, nuanced relationships between pets and their humans. Honoring emotions, his stories, like those of Herriot, stand as monuments to life-affirming bonds that live beyond the animal’s relatively short lifecycle.
The late Dr. Herriot‘s work was groundbreaking for its inspirational, somewhat romanticized notion of human-pet connectivity. Similarly, Dr. Trout says, “the greatest gift an animal has to offer is a permanent reminder of who we really are.” These days, Trout sees animals leap into the gap between remote social media engagements. “As we connect with animals, personal connections reduce pain and the suffering of isolation.”
The Wonder of Lost Causes addresses head-on the issue of losing a beloved pet. Dr. Trout frames the concept in multiple ways but says succinctly “when you cry about losing a dog it means the dog did his job, and made a connection.”
When asked if he’s ever seen a miraculous outcome when caring for an animal, the surgeon answered without hesitation. He recalled a few years ago a very sick dog from Bermuda flew, with its owner, to Angell Memorial Hospital for care. Before the procedure began the dog passed away under anesthesia. Consoling the heartbroken owner Dr. Trout assured her this dog’s short life was meaningful and important.
His next surgery that day was to help a dog with advanced lung cancer. Dr. Trout believed that surgery had a mystical quality to it, the dog’s cancer responded to treatments far better than expected and the dog lived a longer healthier, happier life than anticipated. Reluctant to say it was the spirit of that Bermudian dog that enhanced the care of the dog with lung cancer, Dr. Trout felt comfortable saying somehow he felt a special connection between kindred souls was with him working in the OR on that case.
Sharing his most personal experiences The Wonder of Lost Causes parallels in many ways the challenges of his daughter Emily’s life. Emily has grown-up with cystic fibrosis. Bella, a black Labrador, is her service dog. It’s Dr. Trout’s hope the warmth, grace and humor of this personalized book will spread awareness of the disease and the heartfelt values of nurturing human-animal bonds.
Diane Kilgore is a journalist in the Greater Boston Area. She is a Cultural Contributor for NewBostonPost and creator of the lifestyle blog ‘To Di For.’