DAVID I. MUIR/FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
Life is amazing. Incredible things happen when one least expects them. Being given the chance to write this column has be a lot of work that is actually a blessing. Part of the blessing has been the chance to connect to so many of the paper’s readers who have let me know how much my writing has entertained and enriched their experience with the paper. Most humbling, they have expressed how the column has made them think and see life from a different perspective. The most often shared experience of reader’s changed perspective is …me.
The most often shared comment from readers is how surprised and delighted to have “met” an African-American veterinarian. They remark how unique, exceptional, and unexpected they find me as a representative of my profession. I have heard this comment repeatedly throughout the majority of my 30 year carrier. Although I accept the compliment of being seen as a unique, exceptional, and unexpected individual, I am not unique or exceptional because I am an African-American Veterinarian. It is all a matter of perception. As we know, perspective is reality. More accurately, perception is a matter of a personal reality, and as we know, reality is often times very warped.
I am a graduate of the veterinary school at Tuskegee University, the iconic Historic Black College/University. The Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine graduated its first class in 1949 and the school is responsible for producing 75% of the African-American veterinarians in the United States. Tuskegee veterinarians work in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and several foreign countries. So as a veterinarian and a veterinarian of color, I am not that unique, but I do share an exceptional and proud pedigree.
The second most often shared comment is about the topics of my columns. Yes they are all true. Life is so interesting, you don’t have to make things up. It is just a matter of keeping your eyes open and being aware of what is going on around you. Often, I am dealing with people during some of the most trying times of their personal lives. Also there is something about animals that brings out the truth in people. I have heard and seen people do and say some of the most amazing things filtered through the experiences of their animals in a veterinary clinic: grown men cry and faint at the sight of a needle, women use their feminine guile in an attempt to bring down the cost of their medical bills, elderly mothers and fathers show up at a moment’s notice to support their adult children who are bereaved by the loss of a pet. I have also seen some of the most vile, abysmal things people are capable of doing. The amazing things are much more uplifting, so let’s continue to concentrate on them.
To the many readers of the South Florida Times who have taken the time to write and call to share their views on my column, thank you for your support. I look forward to hearing from you whenever the spirt moves you, be it good, bad, or indifferent.
Dr. Pierre Bland is the owner of Dr. Bland’s Vet House Calls. He can be reached at 954-673-8579 or at doctorblandvet.com.