All Creatures Great and Small

All Creatures Great and Small
04/13/2017 Rachel
All Creatures Great and Small Cover
dog ear surgery brazil 1976

Velvet’s Ear Surgery, 1976

I’ve loved animals as far back as I can remember and can’t imagine living without some four legged creatures running around near me. I grew up in Brazil and back in the 1960’s and 70’s, vet care was primarily for farm animals, unless you were very wealthy. Pets were not neutered and if something happened to them, it was just part of life. There were tics, skin diseases, weird pests that infected their paws, ears or eyes. We always had a menagerie of cats, dogs and other creatures at our house and I took an intense interest in trying to help them.

We were fortunate to have a vet as a friend of the family, Doutor Luiz. Velvet, my Mom’s faithful companion, had an infection in her ear that turned into a hematoma turning her poor ear into the size and shape of a mango. Dr. Luiz came over one afternoon to perform surgery and I helped him fix Velvet up. He shaved her ear, carefully made an incision, drained the ear, cleaned it up, inserted a tube that would continue to allow drainage, and packed it up. I was to keep it clean and change the dressing.

Bobby and me, 1978.

Bobby and me, 1978.

Another time, my parents were walking my dog, Bobbie, when he stuck his face through a wrought iron fence to look at the dogs that were there. Two of them quickly attacked him, biting him near his eye. It popped out. My Mom, a nurse, rushed him to Dr. Luiz who made a small cut by the tear duct, popped the eye back in and held it in place with a couple of stitches. I was allowed to remove the stitches a couple of weeks later. Bobby was fine.

I so wanted to be a vet….  I wasn’t skirmish about these procedures although my heart hurt when I saw an animal in pain. My parents gave me a series of books which thoroughly delighted me, James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. Amazon description:

For over forty years, generations of readers have thrilled to Herriot’s marvelous tales, deep love of life, and extraordinary storytelling abilities. For decades, Herriot roamed the remote, beautiful Yorkshire Dales, treating every patient that came his way from smallest to largest, and observing animals and humans alike with his keen, loving eye.

In All Creatures Great and Small, we meet the young Herriot as he takes up his calling and discovers that the realities of veterinary practice in rural Yorkshire are very different from the sterile setting of veterinary school. Some visits are heart-wrenchingly difficult, such as one to an old man in the village whose very ill dog is his only friend and companion, some are lighthearted and fun, such as Herriot’s periodic visits to the overfed and pampered Pekinese Tricki Woo who throws parties and has his own stationery, and yet others are inspirational and enlightening, such as Herriot’s recollections of poor farmers who will scrape their meager earnings together to be able to get proper care for their working animals. From seeing to his patients in the depths of winter on the remotest homesteads to dealing with uncooperative owners and critically ill animals, Herriot discovers the wondrous variety and never-ending challenges of veterinary practice as his humor, compassion, and love of the animal world shine forth.

James Herriot’s memoirs have sold 80 million copies worldwide, and continue to delight and entertain readers of all ages.

The series was made into a BBC production with 90 episodes. Although it seems dated now, both the books and the TV show were so successful because the stories were about empathy, about learning how to care for a community, which like any other place on earth has its crazies, the two legged and four legged types. The idyllic setting of the Yorkshire countryside contains all of the joy and pain that comes with any story that addresses our frailties, shortcomings, the struggle for survival, and finally, our redemption. Here is the series intro, which gives a lovely taste of the setting:

 

Herriot is actually the pen name James Alfred Wight used for his books. You can learn more about him on his Wikipedia bio and his son and daughter recall their father with tenderness in this sweet tribute:

 

Rachel with Tor the black chihuahua, 2016

Rachel with Tor, 2016

I never became a vet. The sciences were not my strength, but James Herriot’s books introduced me to a simple lifestyle that I still seek. It also influenced an interest that I still have in other cultures, in people and in animals. With Artizan Made, I look for themes that we can explore that can pull our products together and I thought about how so many of us have animals as a part of our family.  Our Market has a category called “Elements” where we have brought different collections together by tagging them. Our Animals Collection is featured below. We have included insects and reptiles for now. Bird lovers, click here to see our fine feathered friends.

 

I believe that how we treat our animals is closely related to how take care of the rest of the world, especially that part that is dependent on us for care: our children and elderly, the environment, and all creatures, both great and small. Letting children love an animal helps teach them nurturing skills and kindness.  I thank my parents for the insights they guided me into when I was young and hope that the next generation can do a better job of protecting life here on earth than my generation has. I am hopeful!

Artizan Creatures

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