by Sarah Cowan
Many people begin careers so that they can receive praise and recognition for the good work they do for those around them. They do their best so that the people they work for will stand up and say "Good job!" or "Nice going." But there are a few unsung heroes out there who spend there lives helping those who can never say "Thank you" for all the good work they have done. These are the Animal Heroes, dedicated to helping all the creatures of the world, great and small. The most famous of this fur-covered, barn-hopping group is James Herriot.
James Herriot (the pen name for James Alfred Wight) grew up in Glasgow, a fairly large city in Scotland. Like most boys his age, he went to high school and then on to college. But at a certain point in his studies, he made a decision that would forever change the course of his life. He decided he wanted to become a veterinary surgeon, specializing in the treatment of dogs.
Well, things didn't quite work out as planned. Mr. Herriot did become Dr. Herriot, but when he received his first veterinary assignment in the Yorkshire countryside, he found himself not working with lovable collies and chihuahuas, but rather big and brutal horses and oxen, whose kicks could send a grown man flying. You see, in those days it was considered "unmanly" to work with dogs and cats. So Dr. Herriot spent the early part of his career mucking around barns and stables, dreaming of drawing-room visits to pampered poodles and furry felines.
Eventually word got around that there was a country vet who was willing to help out a person's beloved Fido or Fifi, and Dr. Herriot found himself able to realize his original dream of treating dogs and cats. Luckily for the rest of us, he recorded his veterinary adventures in a hilarious series of books beginning with the famous volume, All Creatures Great and Small. Filled with wonderful stories, both funny and tragic, Dr. Herriot's books have been an inspiration to animal lovers (and future veterinarians) for years.
This story and photos submitted by Sarah Cowan from Laguna
Additional text by Jeff Trussell.
Images of James Herriot courtesy of Heather Mazzaccaro.