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Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite
If you are looking for a light easy read with lots of smiles, then you won’t go far wrong if you pick up Tie the Dingo Down, Mate!, written and illustrated by Nicole O’Connor. It tells the story of an Australian vet who goes to what is now Mpumulanga in South Africa to work with a local vet there. No sooner has he arrived when he is asked to set up a new practice further north where he meets Gretchen, who offers to work for free as his receptionist, and later the young Miranda, who is more than a passing interest. Newly qualified, Gus thinks that becoming a vet is going to be an easy life, well rewarded financially, but he has a lot to learn. Almost as soon as he arrives in South Africa, he is taken on a hunting trip where one of his companions is almost killed while shooting a buffalo roaming with the local cattle. The animals he treats vary from the usual household pets – dogs, cats, and koi fish - to farm animals such as cows, sheep and horses to an ailing circus elephant. There are also encounters with snake bites, African horse flu, lightning strikes and animals suffering from eating poisonous indigenous vegetation. There are also the humans to deal with, from batty elderly ladies to aggressive farmers to the drunken son of a wife-beater, who is convinced Miranda is still in love with him.
The author of Tie the Dingo Down, Mate!, Nicole O’Connor, clearly writes a warning in the front of the book that if the reader was expecting James Herriot then they will be disappointed. I don’t agree. The stories are more varied, the animals more exotic and the background more exciting. I really enjoyed this book and, being familiar with the area, I snapped it up to review. An easy read, broken into bite-sized chunks with each chapter a story in itself. My only criticism is that I think Miranda is a little naïve for a young woman brought up in South Africa, who forgets to shake out her shoes, does not close the windows in the game resort, allowing the monkeys to climb in, and is nervous on occasions when she is confronted by snakes and other potentially lethal creatures. However, she is an endearing character and, I suspect, based on a real person, possibly the author herself? Recommended.