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Amy Richards is deathly ill with bulimia, brought on by the death of her brother in the Iraq war. Her father, a doctor, and her mother, a librarian, are frantic. In their desperation, they bring into the household a loving dog named Wendy, leaving Amy in charge of her care during the day. Much to her chagrin, Amy has to get out of bed to let the dog out. When outside, she smells the lilacs and begins to feel that maybe there is something to live for. She attends veterinary classes at her university and discovers that she loves caring for animals despite having to face man's cruelty toward them. When she apprentices in a veterinary office, she gets herself into trouble at a puppy mill and finds her budding career in jeopardy.

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