Bruce Coston Interview: Meet the Author of THE GIFT OF PETS

In celebration of my latest humor book, RED DOG / BLUE DOG: WHEN POOCHES GET POLITICAL (Running Press, August 2012), which features political humor and funny dogs, I am featuring interviews with other dog book writers. It’s very exciting to shine light on books from other writers who also share a love for canines.

This week it’s Bruce R. Coston, DVM, a companion animal veterinarian in Woodstock, Virginia.  He graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and completed an internship in Rochester, New York. He founded Seven Bends Veterinary Hospital , where he still practices, in 1992. He enjoys writing, golfing, spending time on the lake, scuba diving, and spending time with his family (which includes a dog and three cats). He has two books in print. ASK THE ANIMALS was released in 2009. THE GIFT OF PETS released on August 7, 2012 (both St. Martins Press). Bruce is married and has two sons, Jace and Tucker.

GIVEAWAY: Bruce is excited to give away a free copy of his book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: bchambers01918 won.)



Currently own dogs? Tell us their names, breeds and one amusing fact per dog.

Yes.  I have a mixed breed dog named Starr.  She is 14 and a half years old but still gets accused regularly of being a puppy as she looks like a miniature golden retriever.  We name our animals after figures that are prominent in the news at the time we get them.  This plants them firmly in the time line of our lives.  The week we got Starr, there were several top stories with names to choose from.  The proposed names were 1) Starr – as Kenneth Starr’s report from the office of the special counsel on President Clinton came out that week; 2) Maggie – as Mark Maguire hit his record breaking home run that week; and 3) Lewey – in remembrance of Monica Lewinsky whose affair with the president initiated Kenneth Starr’s investigation.  It was a family vote and the kids preference won out.  They voted as a block.  I won’t divulge my preference.

In one sentence, what is your book (or latest dog-related book) about?  

The Gift of Pets celebrates the wonderful bond between pets and their people as seen through the eyes of a veterinarian, the one person who gets the most intimate view of this amazing bond.

When did it come out? Publisher? Any notable awards or praise for it?

It released from St. Martin’s Press on August 7, 2012.  Yes, I’ve gotten some wonderful endorsements.
Kirkus reviews gave The Gift of Pets a wonderful review: “Tender tales of animal care from a veteran veterinarian. There is a special bond between a pet and its owners, which Coston (Ask the Animals: A Vet’s Eye View of Pets and the People They Love, 2009) gracefully brings to light in his second memoir about his Virginia practice. ‘The core of a veterinary hospital,’ he writes, is the ’emotional and compassionate intertwining of hearts and hands, of science and souls, of lighthearted laughter and wrenching sadness.’ The author’s concern toward the sick animals under his care and his empathy for the owners merge with humor as he recalls his daily routines. Independent, eccentric, fun-loving, serious—all words that aptly describe owners and animals alike as Coston diagnoses and treats a myriad of maladies in the dogs, cats and birds that come to him for help. . .  Benevolent, instructive stories of the bonds between animals and humans.”

I also got a great review from Publisher’s Weekly.  “Coston follows up 2009’s Ask the Animals with an engaging second memoir of his Virginia veterinary practice aimed directly at the hearts and minds of pet owners and animal lovers. . . To balance the poignancy of owners confronting their pets’ serious, sometimes untreatable illnesses and injuries, Coston humorously depicts unusual pets, like the dog that, according to his owner, prefers eating rocks to gnawing toys out of machismo, and eccentric owners, such as the bullmastiff owner who invents his own language and medical terminology. He also . . . introduces us to clinic staff members like his practical joke–prone receptionist, Rachel, and veterinary technician, Lisa. Lisa’s sad but inspirational story provides the otherwise episodic book with its strongest throughline.”

Perhaps the most exciting response has been from The Los Angeles Times.  They included The Gift of Pets on their summer reading list this year.

What inspired you to write this book? (In other words, how did the book come about?)

The main impetus for this book was the enthusiastic response from readers of my first book, Ask The Animals, which was released in 2009.

What kind of writing, if any, were you doing before the book?

My first book, Ask The Animals, arose out of a series of newspaper articles I wrote for a local newspaper.  I did a short 500 word feature each month for several years. The response to those stories prompted the first book.

How did you find your agent? (If you don’t have an agent, how did you secure a book deal?)

My current agent I was introduced to by another veterinarian/author. He read my first book and the manuscript for this book and was enthusiastic about its success right away. His name is Jacque De Spoelberch and he has been a great help from the start.

What has been the biggest surprise or learning experience you’ve seen through the process of seeing your book(s) get published?

I have been amazed to learn of the publishing industry and the changes that are assailing it from all sides.  With the advent of Amazon and self-publishing, the switch to e-books, the economic pressures on the industry, and the split of the publicity dollars the publishers are willing to invest, publishing books has changed dramatically. Not all those changes are good – especially for the publisher and the authors.  I’ve learned a lot.

Tell me about a fun moment or proud experience you’ve had with your book and readers since the book was published.

Perhaps the best experiences have been interacting with readers who have been deeply touched by these simple stories. It is especially rewarding to hear from young people who are headed into the veterinary profession. I remember resonating to James Herriot’s books as a young man. To see young people responding similarly to my books has been quite a rush.

What are you doing to reach out to readers and dog enthusiasts?

The Gift of Pets is being featured on DogRead, a reader’s blog with a membership of about 6,300 people. I have been on the radio. I have appreciated being featured in this venue as well. Cat Fancy Magazine (blasphemy, I know) has run a feature on the book.

Think of your dog (or a past dog perhaps). If you could compare them to one celebrity, who would it be?

Wow, good question! Starr? I’d have to say Shirley Maclaine. She’s older, has lost some of her good looks, is a bit off the wall, but still wonderful to spend a day with!

Favorite of these dog movies? — “Best in Show,” “101 Dalmatians,” “The Shaggy Dog.”

Of these movies? Best in Show. But there are a bunch you didn’t include. My all-time favorite is Marley and Me. As a vet watching the movie in a theater, it was very rewarding to see the extent to which a touching portrayal of the intense bond between a person and a dog impacted people. I see it every day in the office. It is the essence of my books. But to see strangers so deeply impacted that they were passing tissues to each other at the movie’s end was truly amazing and a wonderful testament to the impact our dogs have on us.

Where can people find you on the Internet? (Websites, etc)

My author website is There’s lots more information there for anyone who is interested in contacting me.

My hospital website is  You can learn a bit about my practice.

What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

I have a couple of projects currently in the works.  A third in the series of stories from practice practically writes itself.  I am refining the story line for a novel exploring the relationship between a dog and his boy(s).  And, in a completely different direction, I am writing a book about the animals mentioned in the Bible and what we can learn from them.

GIVEAWAY: Bruce is excited to give away a free copy of his book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: bchambers01918 won.)



RED DOG / BLUE DOG is a humorous photo collection of
dogs doing stereotypical liberal and conservative things,
assembled all in good fun. It released in Aug. 2012 from
Running Press and has been featured by USA Today,, The Huffington Post, and more.


Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
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Order the book from WD at a discount.


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4 thoughts on “Bruce Coston Interview: Meet the Author of THE GIFT OF PETS

  1. vlmobley

    Wonderful article. Seven Bends is the best vet office I could ever imagine. I have had the opportunity to have Dr. Coston as my cats vet for a little over 3 years. He is very good with my cat and takes the time to answer any questions that my husband and I may have. I drive 40 miles from their office and always have friends that ask why I drive so far. I tell them that I could never find another vet that cares as much as Dr. Coston and Seven Bends!

  2. bchambers01918

    This was a great article. I do not know Dr. Coston personally but I do go to Seven Bends and Dr. Conner has always taken care of us. The staff is great and I would not go anywhere else. We live about about 25 miles from them and would travel even more. We love our babies so much and of course they are spoiled. I have not had a chance to buy any of his books. “The Gift of Pets” looks like a good book. Congrats Dr. Coston. Seven Bends is the best.

  3. Chuck Sambuchino Post author

    I just wanted to stop by real quick and thank Bruce for his interview.

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