Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the PET | TAO Holistic Pet Products Podcast.
I'm your host, Dr. Marc Smith, Co-Creator of PET | TAO and also 20-year practicing veterinarian.
This podcast is going to be a little bit different, because I'm going to tell you a story and it's an inspirational story, I hope.
This story is about a book that inspired me as a kid to develop my love for animals, my appreciation for animals, and ultimately, it propelled me to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.
The thing about this is that this is a wholesome book and a wholesome story. I read it occasionally today, but I remember it very frequently in my practice and in my professional life. The book is called Where The Red Fern Grows. It's by Wilson Rawls.
See, when I was a little kid, we had to read books and we had summer reading, and all those things. Just like many of you did.
And one of the books, a lot of you may remember it, that we read was Where The Red Fern Grows.
Just to refresh your memory, this book is about a little boy. His name is Billy Colman. Billy lives in the Ozark Mountains of Oklahoma and he was all boy.
He liked to play outside. He liked to hunt. He liked to fish. He liked to do things that they did back in those rural parts of America.
Billy, he wanted a pet, and see his family was poor. Billy saved up his money, a total of $25, and he went to town and he bought two Redbone Coonhounds.
He named the girl, Little Ann, and the boy, Old Dan. Little Ann and Old Dan, two Redbone Coonhounds, that this young boy trained.
He became friends with, he cared for them, he assumed the responsibility of these two fine dogs. Billy had this goal.
He was going to compete in these hunting contests and he trained these dogs day and night, and he put his time in, each and every day feeding, watering, taking care of them, and he learned the responsibility and the meaning of what it takes to care for pets.
Ultimately, Billy, everybody in the region, they heard of Billy's two famous coonhounds, Little Ann and Old Dan. Ultimately, Billy made it into the upper echelons of the hunting world with his dogs.
One night when he was competing in one of the championship hunts, he was lucky enough to take home $300 as a young boy, because his dogs won the championship. Later on, as he was training his dogs continually, his dogs in the woods came across a mountain lion. The mountain lion attacked Old Dan. Ultimately, Old Dan succumbed to his injuries.
There weren't any veterinarians in the Ozark Mountains. Nobody to help Old Dan and Billy out, and Old Dan died.
Up on a hill, Billy went and he carried Old Dan, and he buried Old Dan. He was grief-stricken. Here was a young boy, burying his best friend, his dog at a young age, he was gone.
Three days later, Old Dan's sister, Little Ann, was overcome with grief and stress. She died, too.
In a matter of three days, Billy had lost both of his best friends, both of his dogs, and he was heartbroken.
Again, up on the hill he went and he buried Little Ann right next to Old Dan.
Billy went on for days dealing with his grief, his sadness, and his sorrow. He had lost his two dogs. He had put a lot into his dogs and his dogs, like all dogs do, they gave Billy a lot of love back.
A couple of months later, Billy, he went up on the old hill to visit his friends, and a red fern had grown on top of their grave.
For many of you that don't know, according to Native American legend, only an angel can plant a red fern, and knowing that an angel had bestowed this red fern on his two dogs, Little Ann and Old Dan, Billy feels like he's ready to move on, knowing his dogs will always be remembered.
Getting back to the point, this book inspired me, and it inspired me, because at a young age, it showed me what pets can mean to people. How to take care of pets, why pets are important, and ultimately, it also showed me that grief and sorrow that people can feel and the sympathy that people can feel when they lose a pet.
Another thing is the perseverance. Sometimes we forget, we've got to persevere, even when we lose our best friends.
When I was thinking about doing this podcast, I was thinking, "What was the main point?" Well, it was to tell you that lots of times, as a young person, we get inspired by things that we don't even know and we don't even recognize.
Then when we become adults, it's funny how these things pop back in our mind. This may be a way that we can inspire others.
What I would do, is I would encourage you to share this book with your kids and maybe your grandkids, because this book will help people, young people, to develop a healthy sense of responsibility, love and compassion towards our best friends.
If you liked what I talked about today and you want to learn more about your pets, then go visit our website at www.pettao.com and empower yourself and learn the best ways to take care of your pet.
Also, if you liked what we had to talk about today and you find it useful, then give us a rating on iTunes. Thank you for listening.