Creatures great and small

Published 10:24 pm Thursday, March 7, 2013

To the editor:
Foothills animal lovers should read “ All Creatures Great and Small” by Dr. James Herriot.

It’s a story about his country veterinarian practice in England. Published in 1972, it is still popular today as a heartwarming true story of Dr. Herriot whose unique courage, warmth and natural storytelling ability captures your heart in a special way.

We are fortunate to have many wonderful vets in our area. We also have the Foothills Humane Society, which takes care of neglected and mistreated animals, and, therefore, always have animals in need of adoption. The people associated with Foothills do a wonderful service to our community.

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However, I was totally shocked when I took my female Lab, Tootsie, to the vet I had been using for five years. I was told that I would now be charged 25 percent more because Tootsie was not spayed. I was being penalized because there were too many abandoned animals here. My wife even had someone be ugly to her when she mentioned we were going to breed Tootsie.

I have had Registered AKC Labrador Retrievers for more than 40 years and the same bloodline for 25 years. I have always kept one female, which I breed one time when she is 5 or 6 years old. I give the much sought-after puppies to family members, keep one female for myself and sell the rest.  I always promise that I will take the puppy back if the purchaser changes his mind. With all the vet bills, I’ve never made a profit.

Needless to say, after finding out that I would be charged an additional 25 percent for my unspayed female, I changed vets and that brings me to “The Rest of the Story.”

Fortunately, I found another vet who pronounced that Tootsie was in excellent health for breeding.  I bred Tootsie to the handsome Mojo of Lexington, S.C. in January of 2011. Her puppies arrived on March 31 with my daughter, Stacey, and her four children here from Raleigh to witness and enjoy the delivery.  The vet’s x-rays had shown 12 puppies, but we only had 11. The next morning, Tootsie was lethargic. We knew that she needed to go to the doctor immediately.  However, I was headed to Duke Hospital and my daughter had to return to Raleigh. So, we took Tootsie and all 11 pups to our new vet and headed to Duke.

That evening, the vet called to say that the necessary surgery went well and after removing the dead puppy, she had taken Tootsie and all 11 puppies to her home for the night!  She did the same thing the next night. We were surprised and grateful.

Well, it’s been almost a year. I kept a male this time, Skyuka Rebel. Stacey has Tula, and my son, Ben, has Peaches. One of these dogs will have a litter in five or six years to continue our wonderful line of Labs. I will miss the joy and fun of raising a litter, but will still enjoy Tootsie and Rebel at our Skyuka Mountain home.

I am so thankful that we were able to find such wonderful care for our beloved Labs.
Read the book. “All Creatures Great and Small.”

– article submitted by Charlie Speight, Columbus