Monday, July 4, 2016

Change Places With Me Blog Tour: Working in a Vet's Office

Change Places with Me
by Lois Metzger
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 14th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy
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Rose has changed. She still lives in the same neighborhood with her stepmother and goes to the same high school with the same group of kids, but when she woke up today, something was just a little different than it was before. The dogs who live upstairs are no longer a terror. Her hair and her clothes all feel brand-new. She wants to throw a party—this from a girl who hardly ever spoke to her classmates before. There is no more sadness in her life; she is bursting with happiness.

But something still feels wrong to Rose. Because, until very recently, Rose was an entirely different person—a person who is still there inside her, just beneath the thinnest layer of skin.

by Lois Metzger

When I thought about giving the main character in my book an after-school job, working in a veterinarian’s office was kind of a no-brainer. When the book begins, Rose is in the process of making sweeping changes in her life, one after another. She used to be deathly afraid of dogs. Now, suddenly, she isn’t. She doesn’t question why; she’s only happy that it’s no longer the case. And what better way to prove it, to herself and to everybody else, than by working alongside dogs?

Conveniently, I myself used to work in a vet’s office. It was only a few hours a week and I didn’t get paid, but my cats got free food and medical care. Not to mention how fascinating it was to come across a never-ending variety of dogs and cats—and owners.

I remember Emma, an adorable English bull terrier who ate a ball the size of a grapefruit. The ball was surgically removed. While recuperating, Emma somehow got into the garbage, found the ball, and tried to eat it again. Luckily she was stopped.

Also there was a Chihuahua who was so high-strung his eye tended to pop out, and the vet had to pop it back in again. It wasn’t dangerous for the dog but it was as bizarre as it sounds.

I met a cocker spaniel who, according to her owner, only ate “chicken, broiled, no skin.” The owner made a point of saying she always carried some in her purse. I couldn’t help thinking about how if that purse ever got stolen, the thief’s haul would be chicken, broiled, no skin. I gave this experience—and this thought—to Rose in Change Places with Me.

Rose also learns things I found out behind the scenes—for instance, if there’s a red star on your pet’s record, that means danger, be careful, watch out; this dog might be a biter; this cat could scratch. Full disclosure: my cat, Mischief, has two red stars on her card. She is the sweetest animal at home but a terror at the vet’s. When Mischief was younger, the vet would wrap her in towels to try to restrain her, but Mischief would tear through them like they were Kleenex. BTW, Mischief isn’t even exactly my cat. A friend of a friend asked me to watch her cat for several months while she was in Paris. I took in the cat—and the owner never returned. That was eighteen years ago—and I hope the owner never reads this, because I have no intention of giving Mischief back.

When I worked at the vet’s, there was a Doberman pinscher named Rouge who lived in the office and gave blood when animals needed transfusions. She was very beautiful and very affectionate. Occasionally I was asked to take Rouge for walks, and discovered something extraordinary. When you walk city streets with an enormous dog, people keep their distance, even big tough guys. I’m kind of short, about 5’3”, and usually I’m the one getting out of everybody else’s way. Not so whenever I was with Rouge—and this is something Rose gets to see first-hand in the book when she walks Rouge (same name, same breed). The world makes way for you.

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Lois Metzger was born in Queens and has always written for young adults. She is the author of five novels and two nonfiction books about the Holocaust, and she has edited five anthologies. Her short stories have appeared in collections all over the world. Her writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and The Huffington Post. She lives in New York City with her husband and son.

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