President's message

Lasting relationships

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold, is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear."

-- Proverbs 25:11-12

Tom GillespieWhy is writing a president's message more difficult than writing a herd report? Because my clients understand this ole' farm boy's language in the herd reports and this message needs politically correct English! And yes, the JSHAP editor, Cate Dewey, may be questioning whether English is my primary language, but I'll let you in on a secret - Hoosier English is what I know best! I now know that I should have paid better attention in English 101 at Purdue instead of sleeping, but no matter what brand of English a person speaks, everyone understands the importance of relationships.

I have been blessed with many wonderful and insightful teachers throughout my post-high-school life. When I was a freshman at Purdue University, relationships started with classmates and professors. First, there was Martin Stob, my undergraduate counsellor, who taught me support and showed me that I had many options in life. My first partnership taught me the importance of sound business skills and brought out the God-given talents of being an entrepreneur. In those tender developing years, lasting relationships developed.

Think for a moment about the people in academia who continue to influence our professional lives. Carlos Pijon immediately comes to mind, with his research on Streptococcus suis and Haemophilus suis and the way that knowledge is changing the approach to each pathogen. If a particular pathogen is challenging, this may cause you to begin a relationship with a researcher first, to gather knowledge and then to give the researcher feedback on how well the project succeeds. I am sure others in academia come to mind if you take the time to ponder for a few moments.

Relationships with industry veterinarians, including Drs Jeff Okones, Mike Kuhn, Charlie Francisco, and Doug Hutchinson, to name just a few, often impact your life. Again, the relationship starts with a concern or problem in your practice which leads you to call the industry veterinarian. If the problem persists, your relationship may take on several interactions, and before you know it, a friendship has developed. In many situations, industry veterinarians encourage you to use painstaking and accurate science to enhance knowledge.

Take a moment to digest the numerous viewpoints that co-workers, associates, or partners teach and share with you daily. A co-worker will often question and challenge a person's "sacred cow," to consider another aspect of the situation. Also, reflect on how these co-workers lend support. In my case, Dr Amy Carroll has challenged my ideas and has helped in covering for me when I am fulfilling my AASV duties.

When was the last time you asked a colleague for a second opinion? The situation was probably a very difficult case, so you reached out to someone you trusted to bring a new approach to the project. It does not have to be a difficult case that demands a second opinion, since there is so much to learn from this type of relationship. A recent project with many twists and turns led me to ask Robert Desrosiers to look into a particular case. The wonderful experience has matured our relationship as the case continues to "stump" us at nearly every turn.

I cannot help but mention the many friendships that develop through AASV meetings and associated events. And after several years in this organization, relationships are strengthened as events in our lives challenge and often change us, like marriages, births, health-related issues, and tragedies.

As you read this message, your life will be full swing into summer activities. Each day I am reminded of how important a person's immediate family is as a support group. The normal activities may include weddings, family outings and reunions, graduations, and all the patio barbeques. I can almost smell the barbecuing pork on the grill now!

I challenge each of us to consider "While it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experiences of others."1 There is not enough time to learn everything in life by trial and error. Our lessons come from our family, business, and professional relationships. As I continue my course through life, I have tried to develop the habit of learning the lesson from that day's experiences. My challenge for each of you is the same. First, develop relationships: they are most often rewarding and may be challenging in good ways. Secondly, grab hold of those special relationships that come along, because you will have them and the memories for a lifetime.

Enjoy your summer and all of its activities, along with the grilled pork!


1. Warren R. The Purpose Driven Life. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. 2002:290.

-- Tom Gillespie