I have enjoyed reading Veterinary Medicine's interviews with veterinary leaders. When I picked up the December 2006 issue, I was especially pleased to see the interview with Dr. Robert L. Leighton. I can't begin to tell you how much I admire this professor. It has been 33 years since I graduated from the University of California-Davis, but my memories of him are still fresh. I would like to relate just two of the many things he has done for his students.
During a lecture in our last year, he mentioned various bandaging techniques, and he must have noticed our stunned faces. It's hard to believe, but no one had given us the basics in bandaging! Dr. Leighton organized a special hands-on demonstration at night to teach us these most necessary basics. "The willingness to go the extra mile."
Also, I was on duty one night in my senior year for the ICU rotation. My college career was coming to an end. I felt I needed to learn so much more, I was worried about passing the boards, I had no job prospects, and I had used up my last college loan. I was down to eating lettuce, cottage cheese, and Kentucky Fried Giblets. The ICU was full, and I felt overwhelmed. I was crying. Dr. Leighton came over to me and asked me what was wrong. I cried out all my deficiencies. He told me that it takes all kinds of veterinarians—some are researchers, some go into teaching, some pursue specialties—but there would always be a need for good general practice veterinarians who love animals and care about their owners. He said that although I might not be at the top of my class, I would do OK out in the real world.
Well, it has been a long time, and I'm not the shiniest apple in the barrel, but I've enjoyed small-animal practice. I've learned my limitations. I've found veterinarians who will help me when I need it. I've laughed at the antics of puppies and cried with the owners when a pet has died or has had to be euthanized.
Each year I go to the scholarship ceremony at the University of California-Davis where I present a scholarship in memory of Ivan George Pollack—a dear classmate, study partner, colleague, and friend. Each year I look for Dr. Leighton to tell him what his kindness meant to me. He's truly an outstanding veterinarian and professor.
Frank J. Grasse, DVM
East Hill Veterinary Clinic
1200 E. Hill Road
Willits, CA 95490