2 BackgroundMany adventures have been made in veterinary medicine since James Herriot began his practice. In fact, one of the world’s largest veterinary hospitals, the Animal Medical Center in New York City, provides specialized care in areas such as cardiology, endocrinology, and oncology. Its staff treats over 65,000 animals each year. In addition, the center works with human hospitals to make advancement in medical treatment.
3 James HerriotWhile in his early twenties, James Herriot became a veterinarian. It wasn’t until his fifties that he combined his two loves-animals and writing-into the first of his books, All Creatures Great and Small. This work served as the basis for a television series. Herriot was so dedicated to his work that he never even took a day off at Christmas.
4 At the time he was writing, British veterinarians were not allowed to advertise, so Herriot, who was born James Alfred Wright, adopted a pen name. The allowed him to publish accounts of his experiences. Herriot continued to work into his seventies. The essay “Cat on the Go” comes from his books All Things Wise and Wonderful.
5 BackgroundVeterinarians must complete a good deal of training before they can be licensed. This includes an in-depth science education and a four-year postgraduate program. Usually veterinarians specialized in small animals, such as house pets, or large animals, such as a horses or cows. Like doctors, they sometimes perform surgery. Today’s veterinarians have access to far more sophisticated equipment than Herriot did.
6 CA StandardsReading 1.1 Identify idioms, analogies, metaphors, and similes in prose and poetry. Language Conventions 1.3 Identify all parts of speech and types and structures of sentences. Listening and Speaking 1.2 Determine the speaker’s attitude toward the subject.
7 Literary AnalysisCharacter traits is the thing that makes a person or an animal unique are called character traits. The girl who finds the cat in “Cat on the Go” has the character trait of sympathy for animals, as shown in this sentence. The girl’s eyes filled with tears, she stretched out a hand and touched the emaciated animal then turned and walked quickly to the door. Keep track of character traits by using a web like this one for each character, including animals.
8 Connecting Literary Elements One example of a character trait is the way the character speaks. In “Cat on the Go,” many of the characters speak a dialect – a form of a language spoken by people in a particular region. In this narrative, the region a Yorkshire, England. Herriot uses nonstandard spellings to show how the characters sound. He includes words and expressions that are common in Yorkshire, but seem unusual to other English speakers.
9 The italicized words in the example give a Yorkshire “Flavor” to the character speech. “ Aye, but some folks ‘ud say finders keepers or summat like that.” If you have difficulty understanding a nonstandard spelling, try reading the sentence aloud.
10 Reading StrategyInterpreting Idioms is a word or expression that has meaning in a certain language or region. Often, it is an expression whose meaning differs from the literal meaning of its individual words. For example, the idiom “It’s raining cats and dogs” which describes hard rain, is unrelated to cats or dogs. As you read, use these focus questions to help you recognize idioms.What unusual expressions does Herriot use?Why does he use these idioms?