I earned my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University in June 1973 and immediately started practicing out of my house at 65 South Main Street. My first two clients were Diane Kasler and Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Bonner. Nancy and I were ready to build a veterinary practice from the ground up the way we wanted it, with all the rewards of having done it by ourselves. We were also blissfully ignorant of some of the problems that stood in our way such as our lack of money. Some of my first patients were seen on our kitchen table which was actually a big wooden cable spool that I had stained and varnished. We couldn’t afford a dinette set. Just move the breakfast dishes and give Rover his shots. We’re talking hard times starting out in this veterinary work.
I was a little nervous about my age. I knew that older residents would have a difficult time believing that anyone twenty-five years old could possess a lot of knowledge, especially anything of practical value. They were certain that a lifetime of observing “hollertail” cows, dogs having fits, and colicky horses certified them for making quick and undisputable diagnosis. They could be right suspicious of someone who was strong on book learning but short on dirt-road experience. My folks placed great value on a college degree and service to mankind. In their era money was scarce and they were never able to obtain their degrees. My mother wanted me to study medicine and become an M.D. I wanted to be involved with animals in some way. My early life was heavily influenced by the veterinarian who cared for the livestock on our farm and by the sixth grade I knew what I wanted for a career.
During my senior year of veterinary school, Nancy and I spent many hours writing letters, talking on the phone, and getting leads from pharmaceutical salesmen about towns and counties that needed practicing veterinarians. We traveled from New York to Florida and even the cattle country of Alberta, Canada only to settle thirty miles up the road from my hometown. Pataskala seemed like a nice, up-and-coming village full of regular, friendly folks, deer dogs, foxhounds, coonhounds, lapdogs, cows, pleasure horses and lots of open farmland. I didn’t foresee a city with housing developments and traffic jams. The animal owner-veterinarian bond can be very strong at times, yet very fragile and strained when things get crossed up. I am proud to say that my closest friendships, outside my family, have been with my clients.