Richard Craig

Its been a tough couple of years for our community, and this week is no different; this is the week we lost Richard Craig.

As a kid, my brother was my biggest hero, and his friends became the same after he passed. The first memories I have of him with his friends usually involved going to Richard's to pick up Lyle and Casey. That group of guys, including Jamie, Brock, Heath, Brandon,  and the Craig brothers had a lot of fun together. My mother missed having them all together after Brad passed away. 

Richard's barber shop has always been the unofficial meeting place of the men in the community. When I would come home from Auburn or Charleston, Richard's barber shop was one of my first stops. He was an orator with a captive audience; I always thought he would have been as good a writer or politician as he was a barber. I'd go early and stay a good while; when Richard was talking, he always kept us entertained with stories of the old days, soldiers coming home, and haggling with Max Arnold over the price of a good hair cut, before he was rich and famous.  I'm going to miss those trips a lot.  

I have always thought of the Craig family as the real life Waltons. They worked hard, stuck together, loved each other, served the Lord, and were fun to be around. Ryan had gone to college by the time I came along, but he was always like John Boy Walton to us; the community was proud to see him come home to write. I remember dad calling Ryan as soon as he came back to Hopkinsville, wanting him to cover our yearly rodeo at the farm. 

Casey and Lyle were hard workers and industrious too. Casey and I have spent many nights tying cows to trees and pulling calves in snowstorms. When Casey or Richard called, we've always tried to be there. They were our neighbors and our friends; in Todd County that Is close to being family.

Last year, Richard called me after a big snow melt. He said he had a cow down, but she was near a creek bed a quarter mile from the road. I told him I would try to find her and get her fixed up. He said, " good luck brother, it's slick down there." We had a new vet student from Lexington with us that week, and she was trying to decide between equine and bovine medicine.  After a long morning of palpation and sick cow work, we skipped lunch and headed to Richards. Richard was working at the barber shop, so we were on our own.

She opened the gate, and as I entered the field, I knew driving was going to be tough. The snow melt had completely saturated the ground, and is was like driving a truck through soup. I started to sink immediately, and I knew if I stopped the truck, I would never get to the cow. The student made a run for the truck, and jumped in as I gunned it across the field. We slid and sputtered the truck across Richard's field, trying to reach the cow on the other side. The vet student was  covered in mud and manure from opening the gate and Trying to catch up with the truck as I tried to keep us moving to the cow. We finally reached the cow and treated her, but this was only the beginning of our ardorous journey. As we started back up the hill from the saturated bottom land, we were immediately spinning like we were on a sheet of glass. when we got close to the gate, I told her to bail out and try to open the gate, this further solidified her argument for equine medicine and her saturation with debris. We got home successfully, but I'm pretty sure that Richard and I, inadvertently, helped that student make her decision to be an equine vet! 

When I remember Richard, I will remember chasing cows on four wheelers, bulls chasing us around allegre, all the good times in the barber shop, and the legacy he leaves with a good family.

I hope the family finds what I have found with the loss of my mother; no matter where you go or what you do, they always seem to be with you. The loss is heavy, but Richard will have Saint Peter cornered, asking a lot of questions and wanting some explanations for the next few weeks. He was an icon around here, and he can't be replaced. He will be missed by us all. 

What would they do with your opportunity?

The age of internet offers many worldly conveniences, one of which is the online database for genealogy,  I recently researched my genealogy and discovered in 1620, Thomas leister came to Jamestown, Virginia, as an indentured slave. His father died in England while he traversed the ocean. I wonder how Thomas felt knowing that his father passed away while he was at sea. He got into a courtroom brawl, stabbed a man in the chest, and ended up leaving Virginia for North Carolina. He married a Cherokee Indian named Prudence and their descendants eventually crossed the mountains to Tennessee.  

Solomon Laster was a Tennessee son. When war broke out, he joined the confederacy. He was too young for infantry, so he drove horses during the conflict. Following the war, he headed for Todd County; his descendants have stayed here since that time. 



Grandpa Solomon with his fiddle

My point is this: what would your ancestors accomplish with the opportunities we have today? Education is easier than ever to receive; a world of information is now a click away on the phone.

We live longer, and some fatal diseases can be stopped with a single vaccination. There is no excuse to be a failure, and there is no excuse to stop trying and learning.

Success looks very different to different people, but there is no better time in history to achieve your ambition. 

i recently read a book about living while dying; it was called, "When Breath Becomes Air".anyone with time to read it should check it out. It is about a neurosurgeon with cancer and how he viewed life, death, humanity, and balancing it all. Click on the bold and underlined title above to view the book, and remember, when you feel like you can't change your life, think of the people who came before you and the hardships they endured to give you life in a free land. 

Thanks for reading,  


Start with why

Earlier this week I traveled to Florida for a meeting. Im a big fan of Simon Sinek anyway, but during this national mastitis council meeting, one of Simon's people was asked to speak.  

His speech was brief but deeply thought provoking. In his time, he delved into the "why" of organizations. He asked the audience what their "why" was. 

As I pondered my thoughts, it didn't take long for me to remember my "why".  

The speaker talked of the "golden circle", an how leaders can aspire their teammates through strong, common purpose centered around a person's "why". 

With the recent loss of my mother, and the hole that has been left in my life, a refocusing on life's most important parts has been essential. 

My "why" is simple, but does have several parts.  

#1. Also my biggest challenge: is to lead a life that inspires others and glorifies my God.  

#2 improve the economic and educational foundation of my community. Help people take back their pride, with a hand up, not hand out philosophy. Welfare doesn't work fair in my book; it can hurt a person's image of self worth. 

It is our goal to help Todd County grow spiritually, educationally, and to improve the quality of life of its citizens. 

#3. Provide excellent customer service, and lead a team of professionals to improve medicine in our area.

#4. To help every dairy in the southeastern United States be sustainable and achieve a somatic cell count consistently under 200,000. 

The golden circle also contains the sections on the "what" and the " how". 

Our what is veterinary medicine.  

Our how is through our clinic and microbiology lab.  

This is who we are at Todd County Animal Clinic.  

What is your "why"? 



Mission #2: excellence in service

I'm reminded daily of how small our world has become. Today, I am in Phoenix; tomorrow I will be back in rural Kentucky. Today, I am at an international symposium for milk safety, and tomorrow I will be home with my family and clients.

 A view from Arizona.  

A view from Arizona.  

Our journey in life, brings us in contact with many amazing people; this weekend, I was reminded of how universal and special the bonds of humanity are. 

No matter our culture or background, we operate on basic principles. In a free society, we all desire to have peace, safety, and prosperity for ourselves and our loved ones. We want to be cared about, treated fairly, and we really like it when the guy at Starbucks writes our name on the cup of coffee.

The biblical "golden rule" applies to us all,  both in business and life, and guides the decisions of our clinic. We are here to be more than a transactional entity; we strive to be a company of service.

Veterinary medicine is no different than other service industries. It's all about serving and caring for the people of the community.  

I've  heard pre vet students say they chose our profession because of their dislike for people and love for animals. They soon learn the job is all about the people. People own the animals, people pay the bills, and people choose the vet.

Gone are the days where there is one vet in each town. As the world has grown smaller, people have more options, and they are willing to travel for the best care possible. 

At its core, this profession is designed to protect  humans from animal diseases, and insure our food supply is the best on earth. It's about the people, their animals, and the safety of the community. 

Its our mission to serve our customers, team members, and community to the best of our ability. Our customers trust us to care for them and their animals, and that is not a responsibility we take lightly! 

 So we live our  mission and use it to guide our daily decisions, " to provide excellence in medicine, excellence in service, and impact in our community".

As the world grows smaller, our community grows bigger, and it's our mission to serve that community well. 

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to book an appointment:  click on the link



Colbridge home fire in Trenton area

One of our client's homes has burned. The burn wasn't a total loss, but all the children's clothing is gone, and most of the baby furniture.

They have a roof over their heads and are safe with family, but if anyone has baby clothing, baby furniture, baby accessories, or household items, it would be greatly appreciated by the family.  

I've listed the adult and children's clothes size below, thanks in advance. Donations in the way of clothing can be dropped at the clinic.

adult male: xl shirts/36-30 pants

adult female:xxl shirts/ pants have been salvaged

9 yr old male:12-14 husky

4 yr old female: 5+ year old

2 yr old female: 2+ year old

6 month old boy:9 to 12 months


On building a dog house

As a kid, I had this perception that to build something great, you had to use all new materials. Granted, I knew nothing about building, but my perception was if you wanted to build something new, you went to the store and bought equipment, new materials,  and or, you just bought the finished product and implemented it into its intended use.

This was never more evident than the day I decided to build a dog house; I had recently purchased  my first coon dog, and needed a warm place for him to stay that winter. I also needed something to haul him in when traveling to hunt. Typical dog houses cost around a hundred dollars, and dog boxes cost significantly more than that. To purchase them new, I knew I would be spending a lot of money that I didn't have. I had already overshot my budget, and spent my $100 savings on the dog. So I went to my dad for help. Dad could build whatever we needed, but when looking at new materials, we still would be spending several hundred dollars. He didn't have the time that day to bargain shop, so he sent me to the ultimate expert in creating something from nothing..... My grandfather. 

My grandfather was a self made man; he and my grandmother had turned a small farm into a multi state,  real estate business. He had a vision, a plan, and put in the work necessary to succeed in business. I never imagined he would take the time to build a dog house with me, but at the request of my father, he took the day off to spend with me. 

I ask him how we needed to start the process, and I asked him where we were getting the materials. He smiled and said we had everything we need right here at the house, all we had to do was come up with a plan.  

That is something I have taken with me since; a well executed plan is essential to any big area of life. My grandfather drew ours on a napkin, we even placed dimensions and made a materials list: door hinges, insulation for cold nights, ventilation for summer, a metal roof to help with leaks and the rainy season, and handles to help raise and lower it when it was being used for a box. Next, we sought out materials. He took me to the  scrap pile  assembled from leftovers of previous projects; we removed handles from old doors, found a shutter for the front door of the house, got an oven vent to use for summer heat dispersal, and various sizes and shapes of plywood and pressboard for framing.  We cut the metal off remnants for siding and for the roof. We pulled and straightened nails from other wooden pieces and found old drywall screws for assembly. All total, we invested four hours of time and spent about ten dollars on the project. My dogs used that box for years, and it worked well as both the hunting box and a house. 

I learned much from my grandfather over the years, but building a dog house with him taught me a lesson about getting creative at structuring plans and finishing projects.

In today's world of high finance and debt load, it helped me learn that not everything has to be perfect when starting out. It's more fun and generally more challenging to produce something of quality on limited resources. That is how we have run our business and our lives. 

At times we have had to borrow equipment, we acquisitioned our x ray equipment from human hospitals that were updating, our surgical equipment was purchased piece by piece from Germany over the course of two years. We made the front benches in the office from barn wood, and used our own computers for record keeping. We wired our own security systems, and traveled from Louisville to Knoxville to purchase dental equipment and surgical units. We shopped garage sales for office equipment and purchased remnant counter tops from granite wholesalers. Piece by piece we assembled a clinic, with a vision of what we wanted, and a plan of how to execute it. We have and will remain committed to excellent service to our customers, and quality in our medicine. Just like we assembled our dog house, we also assembled our clinic. It's not perfect, but a lot of hard work, love, and creativity went into its assembly.

We want to say thank you to everyone who has been a part of our clinic in 2015, and especially to those people who have helped us reach our community through charitable giving and support. Have a safe and happy new year!

todd county animal clinic  

Help needed: family tragedy

Hey guys,  

we often try to write about our clinic and tell stories that make people smile. That is generally our goal, but tonight I cannot report good news. A local family of five people was killed during flooding this week; not only is this a major tragedy, it also happened while the family  was traveling for Christmas. I am asking our clinic family to support the funerals of these five individuals. We are hoping that you will each give $5.00 or more.  If every client in our clinic gave five dollars, the Schutt family's burden would be reduced by more than $5000, during this time of tragedy. We will make the link available below to the family's funding site. Thank you in advance. 

John Laster DVM

Logan schutt fund click below:


In a world where people don't matter, people still matter

Tonight was a wonderful night for our clinic family; we seldom have a break in our fast  lifestyles, but tonight was different. Tonight, our entire town shut down for the annual Christmas parade. Almost 90 floats were in tonight's parade, and the excitement of  a small town Christmas was almost palpable. Children, adults, and people of all walks of life joined together to celebrate the most magical season.

Tonight reminded me of, "A Christmas Story", with all the floats , Santa in the jeep, and the animals on our trailer.

For the first time in several years, I felt that our town was just one big family; there were no political motives, no debts to be collected, and no more work was left to be done. We were all there to celebrate together. It reminded me of scenes from nostalgic  albums, where people lined our square for celebrations, festivals, and car giveaways. It reminded me of a simpler time, and maybe even a simpler place. 

 The boys on the float. 

The boys on the float. 

It reminded me that in a world where people no longer matter, to us, people still matter. Our peoples' stories still matter; churches, families, and children still matter. Each one of us matters, and we all have a responsibility to care for one another. 

The world, for me, was transactional; I  liked the anonymity, but needed a sense of community.  I needed to find a place where people still cared, and I found that here. 

So this Christmas, put down the iPhone, turn off the television, and tell the people you hold most dear, how much they truly mean to you. It's your choice, but remember, in a world where people don't matter, it's up to you to make them matter.  

Why we help Todd County Trap, Neuter, and Release

I remember when I started working for Dr. Brown; I was thirteen, green, and had no idea that one day I would be running the practice. Dr. Brown cares about our community; he always cared just as deeply about his people as he did their animals. If there was an event needing a sponsor, you could turn to doc, and if there was a public service board that needed his direction, he was there to give it. I remember scheduling our appointments around health board meetings, water district trips, and pennyrile electric sessions. No matter the need, Dr. Brown tried to help the members of this community.

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Mission #1: excellence in medicine

When it came time to apply for vet school, there was only one place I wanted to go. Auburn University set the bar on medicine; Auburn educated every veterinarian I knew at the time, and Auburn was my dream.

I thought Auburn was a mythical town, full of the best vets in the world, and home to legends like CarsonWolfe, and Dr. J.T. Vaughn. Auburn was rigorous and tough, and with 34 seats available for Kentucky residents, I knew it would be a major challenge to be accepted. 

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Living our mission

As many of you know, I am an avid fan of Dave Ramsey, and as I listened to his entreleadership podcast in early 2014, his message about mission statements hit home with me.

A few months earlier, I had re opened Todd County Animal Clinic. Though it had already started to grow, I had absolutely no idea how to run a business. I certainly never wrote a mission statement, but as I listened to the podcast, I knew I would need one to govern our business. 

"A mission statement defines what you is, and what you isn't", Dave said. It was evident to me that Dave's mission statement was the standard he measured each opportunity with. His mission helped his team define goals, and it kept them on track when making decisions within the company. The mission inspired people, and gave them the opportunity to accel. In short, a mission statement would be essential for our company to succeed as well. 

As I tried to define our mission,  I reflected on why I restarted the practice. We could have easily built a new practice, a new name, and a new opportunity, but new buildings weren't essential to the mission we were beginning to form. After about ten drafts, the first part of our mission was written,

"Our mission is to provide cutting-edge, common sense medicine, with excellent customer service, to all species, across western Kentucky."

As we started to grow, I re visited the mission statement many times. Our original draft was good, but it didn't fit the scope of what we hoped to create in our hometown.

Also, as the business continued to grow, it became obvious that our mission would reach farther than the bounds of western Kentucky. After only a year, we decided to "update" our mission as a company. 

Our mission is to provide, 

" excellence in medicine, excellence in  service, and Impact in our community."

Without excellent medicine, we knew we couldn't succeed in our community, and customer service has been essential from our first day here.

We wanted our clinic to be different, and our people to be approachable, empathetic, and kind to our customers. Most importantly, however, was our desire to be more than a veterinary clinic;  We wanted to create positive change In our community.

Over the next few blogs, we are going to explore our mission statement, and explain how each part has been integral to the creation of our clinic. Most importantly, we are going to share how we plan to help our community, and will highlight some programs that are helping make our mission possible.

thanks for reading,  

John Laster, DVM

Why not us?


Our community is a quiet, country hamlet meshed between the faster paced cities of Tennessee and central Kentucky. Time just goes slower here; people matter, we visit more, and we care about each other. Our community has a life we all love, but it has its faults. People here are loyal, intelligent, and the most hard working group I have ever known Thus, it begs to question: Todd County,  why not us? Who is leading our people to a better tomorrow? 

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When roping isnt fun


When I was a boy, I always dreamed of making a living with a rope. I never knew if my boyhood dreams would come to fruition, but the vision of John Wayne riding a sorrel horse from daybreak to dusk are far from the reality of today. Back then, roping was always fun.

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The importance of heartworm meds this summer

Spring has sprung and the mosquitoes are back in town. Remember, mosquitoes carry deadly heartworm disease. So listed below are the top five reasons to protect your dogs against heartworm disease this summer:

1. Heartworm disease is deadly.



Heartworm disease kills hundreds of dogs annually in the south.

2. Heartworm disease is expensive to treat.

The average cost of treatment is $1000 to $1500 dollars.

3. Heartworm disease is completely preventable.

Monthly heartworm prevention will protect your dog from contracting heartworms.

4.Heartworm preventatives help prevent other worms.

Most of our heartworm preventatives are coupled with flea, tick, and internal worm  preventatives.

5. We are providing our clients with 1/2 price heartworm testing this month!

To take advantage of our special and to protect your pets this summer, click on the link below for more details on this month's specials.

Flea and tick season

Spring is coming and with the spring, we see the emergence of fleas/ticks. Fleas and ticks carry diseases that can affect humans and can be potentially deadly to dogs and cats. Having fleas in our homes is also a major concern, and as our pets venture out this spring, make sure they are protected. 

Our recommendation is to leave your pets on flea and tick preventatives year round. we have many options for both dogs and cats; below are some of our favorite.

Remember, these creatures are becoming harder to kill; your average walmart variety preventative doesn't cut it anymore. If you want to keep your pets safe, you will need to invest in solid preventions.

1. Bravecto:

this is a once every three month pill that has been very effective on both fleas and ticks. This is a very solid option for people with dogs.  click on the link for more details.

sereto collars: 

seresto collars are the latest and greatest in the flea and tick line up. For less than sixty dollars( with a $15) rebate, your dog or cat can be protected for 8 months!!!  we keep them in stock year round and use them on many dogs and cats.

frontline tritak: 

we don't use frontline in dogs currently, but it seems to be working in our cats. Remember, cats are very susceptible to tick diseases like bobcat fever,  so it's very important to take care of the fleas and ticks. 

This is just a brief list of the products we have this year, but it can serve as a guideline in your research. 

Thanks for reading! 





Dr Dave, Dustin, and north kansas


I was reminiscing tonight, after another day of cold weather and cattle. This winter has been tough on livestock, and many have lost their lives during the storms. I was thinking about north Kansas and how different life might have turned out if it had ended up there instead of here......

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Dr brown, bank meetings, and de-wormer

I've bounced around vet clinics as long as I could remember; besides raising cows and working the stockyards, vet clinics are the only jobs I've ever had.

I tried tobacco patches a few times, and I quickly figured out that wasn't the place for me. My dad and grandfather were plumbers, but after my first raw sewage experience, I knew that career path was out. My grandfather put me on a dozer, but that ended abruptly with my pa's prize bulldozer on its side. 

By thirteen years, I knew exactly what careers I could never do. My farm implement experiences faired no better, broken hay rakes, tractors on fire, and mud- buried implements landed me with one position I felt comfortable with..... Feeding cows!

I liked the cows so much that they became my responsibility. I had no idea what I was doing, but I think dad knew that even I could pack a feed bucket. Pretty soon, dad wanted to know what I was going to do when I grew up. I told him I was going to be a cowboy, but dad told me I'd starve to death. After several years with no paychecks, I knew he was right. Rodeo is a great hobby, but I like to eat too much for it to make a living. 

He told me I should go see Dr. Brown and try the vet route. I could work on cows, and I could make a living. So at fourteen, dad drove me to Dr. Brown's clinic.  


I told doc I was looking for work, and pretty soon I had a job.

Dr. Brown has always been a busy guy; he was on the bank board, head of the water department, health board, and worked on the electric board. Balancing that with a busy clinic was quite an undertaking I'm sure! It seemed that we were always working on cows and balancing meetings. 

One morning we were processing calves down at the large animal clinic. Dr. Brown had a bank meeting directly after, so he left his good clothes on; we only had a few to work so he didn't have much risk of getting dirty.  

Back then, we used a chalky white paste to deworm cattle. The paste was dispensed through a gun, with a metal piece directed backwards to allow the vet to get the full dose into the animal's mouth. (See below)

 Dispensing gun for wormer

Dispensing gun for wormer

The gun shot the liquid into the mouth at a high velocity, and Dr. Brown always warned me to be careful when directing the gun, so no innocent bystanders received the chalky paste instead of the cows. 

We finished the calves quickly and began the clean up process. I connected a water hose to the gun to clean it, and began to depress the lever at full speed. Simultaneously, Dr. Brown ( in his good clothes) walked directly into the path of the gun. Chalky white liquid pasted Dr. Brown from head to toe. He just looked at me, but never said a word, as the white chalk dripped off his clothing.  

Luckily, Dr. Brown is a patient fellow; he just called Mrs. Betty to bring him a spare set of clothing, and he made the meeting on time.

Working with Dr. Brown were some of the most fun days of my life, and I often wish he were practicing with us still.

Thanks for reading,