Dr. Jerry Schrader, Great Bend, was named 2013 Kansas Veterinarian Medical Association “Veterinarian of the Year” at the KVMA annual meeting and awards lunch during the June conference for veterinarians in Manhattan.
“Dr.Schrader has represented the veterinary profession as well as anyone possibly could for more than 56 years and continues to practice full time at Countryside Veterinary Associates in Great Bend,” said Dr. Bill Niederee, Great Bend, who presented the award.
“Dr. Schrader still rotates through his turn on emergency duty one night a week and one weekend each month at the practice,” added Niederee, who bought Countryside Veterinary Associates from Schrader in 1994.
“When they announced my name I was so flabbergasted. I got up like I was disconnected with the world; I thought this can’t be happening. Dr. Niederee gave me the plaque and I said ‘Most of you people that know me at all know that I’m pretty windy, But right now I am at a loss for words.’”
“This award is for everybody out there that practices veterinarian medicine and has their heart in it. My greatest fortune is I’ve been blessed with good parents, good teachers, good clients and good health. And beyond that I have no idea why I am standing here,” said Schrader.
“My greatest hope that as a veterinarian that I would be adequate and I hope I have been.”
Schrader was born in Ellinwood to Irvin and Louise Schrader and was raised on a farm at Bissell’s Point in Great Bend. (His mother operated the “Sweetbriar’s” store in downtown Great Bend for many years.)
“I am just an old farm boy,” said Schrader. He remembers a veterinarian visiting his grandparents, Frank and Elsie Kellam, who raised cattle. And it was around the age of 10, that Schrader felt a connection towards animals.
“When I was in high school I went to work here in this building for Dr. Jay Reynolds in 1946. He was my boss and my mentor, and at the time my ideal. I was exposed to small animals and he took me on farm calls.”
After graduating from Great Bend High School, Schrader received B.S. and D.V.M. degrees from Kansas State University. He practiced briefly in Iowa and Arkansas, and purchased Reynolds’ practice in 1959.
A famous quote from Will Rogers states, “Personally I have always felt that the best doctor in the world is the Vet. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter ... he’s just got to know.”
Anyone who has ever taken a pet to Dr. Schrader is soon aware of his calming connection with the animal. He has respect for the animal, and a genuine concern of wanting to soothe and heal.
“I tell the kids that come here to job shadow and want to be a veterinarian that you have to love animals and be dedicated to what you are doing. You have to have humility above all things, and a reverence for God’s creatures and the fact that we are not as smart as we think we are, and they are a lot smarter than we think they are,” said Schrader.
“You have to love and be dedicated. Don’t think you’re going to have a banker’s hours job. You may miss a family birthday or Thanksgiving or Christmas because you have to take care of an animal. That is just what you do,” he added.
Schrader grew up with pets and is a firm believer of the quality they add to life.
“People that don’t grow up with pets miss a huge part of life and maturity growing up. They learn to relate and to be empathic with people, not just animals. Parents that won’t let their children grow up with a cat or a dog are missing a huge facet of life. They just miss it,” said Schrader.
During his 56 years of practice, Schrader has had numerous memorable incidents with both large and small animals. When asked if the saying “I never met a dog I didn’t like” rings true, he said “True, however there are some (dogs) that will test you because they get aggressive and they have an attitude, and you begin to think do I really like every dog?
“I think everybody needs to be empathetic to God’s creatures and be kind to them and help them because they have a tougher life than we do,” Schrader said.
When asked if he thinks animals have intuitive abilities that humans do not, Schrader said he thinks they do.
“God gave them that ability so catastrophes didn’t show up on them and kill them without warning. I can tell if there is a storm coming. My cats will be sequestered someplace sleeping beforehand. During the storm they are awake. They get their rest before a storm ever hits,” said Schrader. He also said pets have a natural and intuitive ability to protect their owners and has personal stories to attest to the fact.
Even though he is now 80, the seasoned, kind veterinarian has no plans to retire.
“Everyone continues learning. I love it. I don’t know what else to do with myself. I don’t play golf or hunt any more. I would probably stay home and read books and play music and drive my wife (Yvonne) nuts. I have seen so many people retire and pretty soon they turn into a pile of dust,” said Schrader.
“God put you here on earth and every day that you get up you should have something in mind that you are going to do that is going to benefit mankind or someone around you. They asked Billy Graham in ‘Parade’ magazine eight years ago, Billy when are you going to retire. He was in his early eighties then. He (Graham) said ‘I read the bible through many times and in no place did I read anything about retirement. You need to get up and do something in God’s name that is useful. And when God calls you home you are retired.’”
“I love the community and I love where I live. I wouldn’t live any place else. No amount of money or coercion or anything else would cause to move. I would hope that heaven might turn out to be a little bit like Great Bend,” said Schrader.
And, does he think all dogs go to heaven? Definitely he said.