As a veterinarian, I work with animals and people every day, and I love it—but I wasn’t always sure I would. In fact, I used to say I became a veterinarian so I could work with animals instead of people! Fortunately for me, being a vet means working with people as much as with animals. Today I understand that connecting with others is the most important and meaningful thing to me, although often the hardest. I love the work of talking and listening one on one, and I love communicating and connecting through writing.
Growing up in a large family on a farm connected me to people, animals, and the land. As a kid, I was often at the barn working with animals, or at my desk writing about animals. Our homestead focused on dairy goats, and I loved the diary partnership—we provided them with the best care we could, and they provided milk, cheese, butter—and antics. Goats are more popular today—they now teach yoga—but we were the minority then in promoting the goat as ideal for rural families and sustainable agriculture. We started a 4H goat club, and I loved “publishing” the monthly newsletter.
I like to think the Goat Gabble Gazette balanced crucial information with engaging levity. The comic strip, for example, featured simple goat drawings and a “punny” joke, such as, “What did one goat say to the other goat who was standing in the middle of the highway? You better goat out of the road before you get rammed–no butts about it!” Tips would follow for containing goats, who love to jump, climb, and escape—and butt. The newsletter also featured “Ask Dr. Bobo,” a column of timely herd health topics. Readers could ask anything, but Dr. Bobo preferred to make up his own questions, and the column often rambled, probably because Dr. Bobo wasn’t a real veterinarian—he was our Siamese cat. We had a lot of fun making that newsletter, and we taught and learned a lot about being good animal stewards.
I could never imagine any work but being a veterinarian, and I could never imagine not being a writer. I went to a small liberal arts college on the Cumberland Plateau, where I studied pre-vet and biology, and also majored in English. Later, vet school and the early days of practice took most of my energy, but I really missed literature, and I never stopped writing. I reduced my clinic time to 30 hours per week, and had tons of fun earning a master’s in English.
Veterinary writing always seemed like the dream that would connect my two passions. I wrote content for a few veterinary hospital websites, poultry health articles, and—my favorite—pet health education articles. One day, I mentioned to a wonderful colleague that I loved veterinary writing, and she told me that Rumpus was looking for writers. I met Sarah and Angela and couldn’t believe it—Sarah’s awesome mission was the perfect connection.
I love that Rumpus’s culture is serious—after all, we are passionate about animals—yet fun. When I look back at the Goat Gabble, our mission was serious. After all, Gandhi said the goat is the “poor man’s cow” to express reverence. However, the comic strip followed another important guideline—“Don’t take yourself so **** seriously.” Rumpus knows how to be light-hearted—it is called Rumpus—but, most importantly, the Rumpus team values reflect the best thing I learned as a youth about veterinary medicine: In our community, everyone’s favorite veterinarian was well-liked because he was a good vet, but he was well-loved because he was kind.
I get to work every day with animals and their people—the best people in the world. I know today that connecting through writing is hard work, but when done right, it’s energizing. Veterinary writing now covers many global communication channels and methods—a hand-written goat newsletter doesn’t cut it anymore.
Fortunately, Rumpus Writing is growing meaningful relationships in the veterinary world with talent, ability, and vision, and I am grateful to be playing a small part in their work.