Bruce Coston's Bio

I was born in Denver to parents who have little interest in animals. Despite this handicap, I was endowed from childhood with The Gift of Pets. As a preacher’s kid growing up mostly in Florida, my family had neither the income nor the interest in indulging my animal interest to any significant degree. Only a series of orphaned blue jays, injured blue herons, hamsters, parakeets, and finally, a show ring misfit sheltie named Thumper helped to develop this passion. 

When I was nine or ten, I told my folks that I wanted to be a veterinarian. From that time on I never wavered from that goal. To that end, I tried to get as much experience working with animals and veterinarians. Horses were my first love and I spent as much time as possible working with the horses at summer camps, first as a camper in Florida and then for six summers as a horse wrangle at camps in Virginia and Alberta, Canada.  I also worked stints as a kennel boy in a boarding kennel in Florida, a farm hand on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, and a vet’s assistant at a mixed animal practice in Minnesota.

Dr. Coston and Cynthia in Chuuk, Micronesia, at sunsetAfter graduating from college in Tennessee, I was accepted into the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota. As a testament to her devotion, Cynthia, my college sweetheart, followed me from her home in Georgia to Minnesota.  We were married after my first year in veterinary school.
Through my junior year in veterinary school, I maintained my focus on horse practice, vowing not to spend my days stuck indoors in some clinic working on vicious little poodles with painted nails. During my senior year in clinics, however, I realized that for me the joy of practice was found in the emotional connection between the pet and its people, a connection which was most easily experienced with household pets.  When this epiphany met the reality of how much more easily comprehensive medicine and surgery can be done in a primary care small animal hospital compared to horse practice, my career path veered unexpectedly in that direction.

After graduating from vet school in 1987, I was accepted into an internship program in small animal medicine and surgery in Rochester, New York where I spent a grueling and rewarding year learning the ropes of private practice in an intensely busy setting. But the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley drew Cynthia and me south. In 1988 I joined a practice in Waynesboro, Virginia where we spent three plus years. We welcomed two boys, Jace and Tucker, into our family while living in Waynesboro.

In March of 1992, we moved to Woodstock, Virginia, on a Sunday and opened the doors of Seven Bends Veterinary Hospital the next day. That practice has grown from myself, Cynthia and two employees then to a staff of more than 20, with four veterinarians practicing in a new, state-of-the-art facility ( I still enjoy the relationships that make practice life meaningful: those with the staff, the clients and most of all with the pets themselves. And yes, I do spend my days in an office where I often work with poodles with painted nails – and I love it!

Coston Family
The Coston family in 2009. Tucker, Dr. Coston, Cynthia, and Jace

Our boys, Jace and Tucker, are both now in college in Tennessee.  Both will be graduating in 2013 from their parents’ alma mater.  With fewer parental responsibilities, Cynthia and I  have a whole lot more time now for going to movies, going out to eat, watching the sun set over the Shenandoah Valley from the deck, reading, and, oh yes, working on the next book. Neither of the boys was possessed with the passion to be a veterinarian like their father. Jace, who blanches at the sight of blood, is pursuing a degree in International Business with an eye to law school. Tucker is taking premed coursework in college and plans on attending medical school in California. We have much for which to be grateful as we watch them become men.

Our cats Webster, Phelps & KimiSo we’re back to just Cynthia and me and our pets. We currently have three cats (Webster, Phelps, and Kimi) and one dog, Starr. Sadly, we lost Flinn, in December of 2011 to a bad heart and cancer of the colon.  We miss him terribly.  You may remember Webster and Starr from Ask The Animals. Phelps, named after Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, reminds us very much of Ollie, who figures prominently in that book. He’s also black and white. He too is a rescue kitty, adopted from clients who couldn’t keep him. He is trouble personified and Ollie reincarnated. As I write this, he’s attacking shoestrings at my feet, his yellow eyes bright and inquisitive. It is Phelps you see with me in the photograph on the back flap of Ask The Animals.

Starr is now an elderly dame at over 14 years that still frequently gets confused for a Golden Retriever puppy. She is a Cocker Spaniel cross that weighs in at about thirty pounds or so. She retains a lot of her puppy characteristics, including a high strung, reactive personality. We’re currently teaching the eternally fearful Starr to be a boat dog so she can come with us to the lake on weekends rather than staying at the kennel in the hospital. She’s learning, and now seems to enjoy it. She will float in the lake on an inflatable chair and actually enjoys running chest deep in the water biting at the waves. Honestly, there are few things cuter than Starr swimming.  Starr is pictured on the flap of The Gift of Pets.

Webster remains as neurotic as always, still convinced that everyone is plotting against him.  He pretends, quite convincingly, to despise Phelps, yowling hysterically at his attempts to engage Webster in play. Sometimes it’s good not to understand the language he uses.  I’m sure it wouldn’t be printable. Web stays to himself. We call his hiding places his Web sites. He comes to the bed at night when things are quiet and calm to purr and seek attention while we’re trying to sleep.

Kimi is the newest member of the family, joining us just a couple of weeks after Flinn passed away.  He is a brown tabby with a short tail and lots of energy.  He’s always looking for trouble – and usually fDr. Coston ready to drive in Micronesiainding it.  His habit of burrowing under the covers at night to gingerly bite our legs is always a surprise as it startles us out of deep sleep.  Kimi and Phelps are the best of buddies.  There’s always a cat version of a cage match going on around the house.  Kimi was adopted from the local shelter.

Besides full time clinical practice and writing, I enjoy golf, time spent in the boat, water skiing, wake surfing, snow skiing, racquetball, traveling, scuba diving, and photography, none of which I excel at. Things I don’t enjoy include politics, hypodermic needles when they are directed at me, guacamole, or confrontation. And I greatly resent being of an age where I need to wear bifocals and go on diets. But the alternative to aging is worse.