Several men are my heroes in veterinary medicine. We will look at them chronologically in individual posts.
I have to say that my first hero in veterinary medicine was not a veterinarian at all, but my Uncle Sam certainly inspired me to become a veterinarian. He was a horseman, a cattleman, a dairy farmer and he loved and respected domesticated animals of all kinds.
Dr. Henry Jones of Kosciusko, MS, became a hero during my childhood. As a youngster I grew up in the tradition of hunting for meat and sport. We ate what we killed and nothing went to waste. Uncle Sam and his brothers were knowledgeable about skinning our prey and selling the hides.
One Saturday afternoon many years ago, Uncle Sam and I were deep in the swamp of the Big Black River in Attala County, hunting rabbits. He had three young Beagles who had reached the age of needing to learn how to hunt. We had great success that day, with the older dogs flushing and running many ‘cane cutters,” big swamp rabbits. The dogs had one on the move when they lost his trail. Really large rabbits like these can do that, because they can run several times faster than even the longest-legged Beagle. Eventually, the rabbit was so far ahead of them that they gave up and began to search for another.
As we leaned against our respective trees a huge rabbit jumped out of a clump of grass, right in front of me. I raised my shotgun, squeezed the trigger and let the shot fly. Just as I did, one of Uncle Sam’s puppies came from behind the same clump of grass. He was so young and immature that he was sitting right next to a gigantic rabbit and didn’t even know it.
To this day, I still don’t recall whether I got the rabbit or not.
All I could focus on was that the puppy was hit, my heart and spirit were broken and I had to get him some medical care right away.
We were at least two hours into the woods. I picked the puppy up, put him in the game bag of my hunting vest and proceeded to march. I could hardly hold back my tears. I felt as if this puppy died, I would die, too. I prayed as I walked.
Uncle Sam drove us straight home, where we called Dr. Jones. He said he would meet us at his clinic, a 45-minute drive away.
He was waiting on us when we arrived, and was already set up for a physical examination and X-ray. Quickly, he checked the puppy all over. Soon he disappeared with her, took a radiograph, processed it and returned.
The bad news was that nine pellets had entered the triceps muscle group in the right front leg. Two pellets were in the quadriceps of the right rear leg. The good news was that, despite taking the blast from a 12-gauge shotgun, not a single pellet was in the chest or abdomen! She would be sore for a while, but there would be no long-term disability.
Dr. Jones even gave her an injection for pain.
With all this: Saturday afternoon after-hours emergency visit, examination, X-ray and injection. Dr. Jones wouldn’t charge us.
I was so grateful I wanted to cry all over again. I have always remembered his kindness, his compassion and his generosity.
And many times I have been inspired by it.
I no longer hunt, but the memory of that day is still one I cherish.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.
PS: Dr. Jones, like most Attala County males over the age of six, and many of the females, also loves rabbit hunting. Today, however, he hunts with a video camera, and produces professional video of the hunts.