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The Vet by ghostsniper

James “Doc” Brester

Goodbye, Doc: Well-known veterinarian passes 

“I’ll be around,” Brester said. “I’m not going on any vacations. I hate vacations.”

When he retired, he said he wanted people to know how much he appreciated all of his clients, his family and his staff from over the years.

“If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I enjoyed having worked many days in life, because I enjoyed doing what I have been doing. Some people can’t say that, but that’s thanks to the clients and my staff and my family,” he said.

Did he agree that he’s an “animal angel,” though?

“No. I’m just a man,” he said in 2017. “I just got lucky to do something for 50 years that I enjoyed.”

AD’s commenter ghostsniper expands on this man’s life in   Something Wonderful: Eddy’s World

98 and still workin’. At something he enjoys and finds challenging. Take away a man’s livelihood and he starts to die.

I saw Jim back in June and was walking with a cane and had lost considerable weight. His speech was soft but clear and he had nothing but good words to say, as always. I have known Jim for 15 years.

In 1966 Jim Brester graduated from college and set up his own veterinarian office over here on 135 in Bean Blossom, about 1.5 miles from our house. We had 2 dogs and I met Jim shortly after we moved here. People came from hundreds of miles around for Jim’s vet service and the parking lot at his place was always slammed hard. There was always a several hour wait to get in. They didn’t take appointments.

I took both dogs to Brester’s to get full examinations and shots, total cost was $40. Both dogs. Once, one of our mutt’s had a problem, don’t remember what right now, but after I put her up on the table Jim stood in front of her, outstretched hand on top of her head and the other on her side and stroked her gently. Then he bent down to her level and looked in her eyes. Before my very eyes, I saw a Vulcan mind-meld occur. As he stared in Lady’s eyes his head turned slightly to the side, like he was reading an unheard message from her. Then he stood upright, grabbed a glass syringe from the cabinet and triple loaded it with some chemicals, bunched up the skin on her shoulders, and gave her the shot. I asked him what was wrong and he said she had an ear infection. Then he grabbed a cloth, applied a solution, and deeply cleaned her ears out which were full of brownish material. In a few days, Lady was her same ol’ self and Brester had charged $15 for that service.

5 years ago an out of state woman wasn’t happy with the primitive service she received at Jim Brester’s place and lodged a complaint with the state. In hours, through social media, hundreds of people jumped to Doctor Brester’s defense. The state dismissed the complaint. A year later someone else filed a complaint so the state inspected his place and decided it was not up to par with where it needed to be. They didn’t have a $500k x-ray machine, etc. To do all the things the state demanded meant Brester’s place would never again be his dream.

See, Jim Brester got up early every morning and made the rounds out through the many farms in the area, checking in on sick cows, pregnant horses, immunizing every kind of farm animal and people’s pets. He also supervised all the animals at the 4H clubs in the area as well as judged animals at the county fair for the past 40 years. The care of animals was the reason Jim Brester got up every morning.

Unwilling to “update” his made-from-scratch business to be something he didn’t want or understand, 78-year-old Jim shut it down. Within a month a chain vet company bought the place, filled it with airheads in white coats, and quadrupled the prices and everybody had to have an appointment. I took my mutt Shannon there last year and a basic exam and a rabies shot cost $80.

When I talked to Jim this past summer the shine was gone from his eyes. He still spoke kindly like always but I could tell things were different now. They took away his reason for living and when you stop living you start dying.

— ghostsniper December 24, 2020, 12:40 PM

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Joe December 27, 2020, 1:47 AM

    Reminds me of a book i just finished by Fannie Flagg, “The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop”.
    With Fannie you have to accept all the unique characters and their idiosyncrasies. The main character was a veterinarian from a small town that disappeared because of progress. Great story but they do not talk about how he took care of animals, just that he loved them.

  • Gnawbone Jack December 27, 2020, 2:55 AM

    Doc was a good man: great with animals and with the personality of a saint; a legend. I saw him earlier this month at the hardware store on a mission to find a metric bolt. Still getting around by himself and never a bother to anyone. He will be missed… RIP old friend.

  • John Venlet December 27, 2020, 4:48 AM

    Jim Brester’s story brings to my mind the British vet and writer James Herriot. I’d wager that Jim Brester would have had as many heart warming vet stories to share as Herriot.

    I’d be pleased if I could still find a vet like Brester, because I have little confidence in the vet’s I’ve had contact with over the last 10 years. They seem quite able when it comes to following vaccination guidelines, but then they switch to salesmen modes and attempt to sell you on the latest and greatest animal care product/procedure of the day. Makes me think that veterinary schools today teach marketing first and foremost, and actual pet care as a minor subject.

  • TrangBang68 December 27, 2020, 5:15 AM

    Another treasured local citizen, an asset to a community destroyed by bitter Karens and bureaucratic assholes

  • M. Murcek December 27, 2020, 5:35 AM

    The bitter and power-hungry must relentlessly deny the rest of us access to such fine people as Dr. Brester and deny people such as him their purpose in life at the same time.

    Can you say purely banal evil, kids? I knew ya could…

  • Annie Rose December 27, 2020, 6:38 AM

    We have been blessed to have some good vets for our critters on and off through the years. Our first vet was similar to Dr. Brester. He and his wife worked out of a trailer in NOLA and they just loved the animals. When they were caring for our cat, Zippy, who had had a surgery, and heard that she ate kids meal cheeseburgers, they got one for her and were amazed when she wolfed the patty down. What vet today would do such a thing? Our current vet is also very caring and compassionate.

  • Anne December 27, 2020, 6:58 AM

    I have a good one for you.

    In 1990, the outlying communities of Seattle were still semi-rural. That is to say, 5 acre lots were dominant in areas such as Snohomish, Redmond, etc. I had a young horse with a problem and had found a young vet just out of school I liked. He was a kid from Texas who had come up to WSU for vet school. He had that great Texas attitude and he knew horses–and, cows.

    One day as he was getting into his pickup truck that was rigged for veterinary equipment, I noticed he was carrying a rifle. I asked him what was that for–it looked a little peculiar. He said, “oh–that’s a long-range dart gun”.

    “What do you use that for out here?”

    He smiled–that big wide smile of his youthful self. “I have quite a few clients who have moved out here, and the first thing they do is sign their kids up for 4-H club. Many of them have bought cow calves for the kids and as the kids grew up they wouldn’t sell them so mom and pop are left with a full-size cow grazing on their five acres. Those cows need shots twice a year. I pull up my truck alongside the road and use this dart gun to give them their shots.”

    “It saves me a lot of time and is paying off my school loans really easy”

    Great horse vet–no drugs without knowing what the problem was unless the animal was in pain. Dang kid moved back to Texas–Texans usually do that you know–go home.

  • Anne December 27, 2020, 10:11 AM

    Dear Ghostsniper:

    I forgot to say that you have written a very nice piece. I feel as if I had had the pleasure of knowing him.
    Good work!

  • Terry December 27, 2020, 10:43 AM

    Nice quote from M. Murcek: “The bitter and power-hungry must relentlessly deny the rest of us access to such fine people as Dr. Brester and deny people such as him their purpose in life at the same time.”

    I have graduated to the ultimate Black-List thanks to the commie crowd who are seizing the old USA. Many of us are listed for extermination for the express reason we are really good at what we do. However, I still wear my red MAGA cap with honor as do others around these parts.

  • George_Banner December 27, 2020, 2:02 PM

    Government and the Sheriff.
    If they weren’t there by the normal flow of human things we would be creating them before Sundown.
    It just has to be.
    It will always be.

    And, invariably, government and sometimes also the Sheriff end up being our worst enemies.
    Power corrupts, yadda, yadda, yadda. But it’s true.
    Eternal vigilance and all that.
    A stitch in time and all that.
    Human history runs in circles and all that.

    Trip on the stone. Fall. Get hurt. Get up. Go around. Trip, again, on the same stone. Fall. Get hurt, again. Learn nothing.

    That’s how we lost the country.
    Run like crazy till you drop only to find yourself were you started.

    Sill don’t want to believe it.
    Human progress . . . it HAS to exist, right?
    Sure it has to.

    Then way is it 1775, AGAIN?

    And good men caught by the juggernaut.
    And it hurts.
    And it’s unfair.
    And it hurts.

    Get up. Go around. Trip, again, on the same stone. Fall. Get hurt, again. Learn nothing.
    Sill don’t want to believe it.
    And I am old enough to know.

    Sorry about Jim Brester.
    Sounds like a good man.

  • PA Cat December 27, 2020, 5:35 PM

    John Venlet comments, “I’d be pleased if I could still find a vet like Brester.” I’m lucky to have a “Kitty Doc” like Brester, the difference being that Kitty Doc has always been a small-animal veterinarian; I don’t think his practice ever included farm animals. I found him by asking friends for recommendations– I had told them that I was looking for a vet who genuinely likes cats, as distinct from a dog vet who treats cats on the side, so to speak. Ghostsniper will know why I say this– cats need a vet who understands the feline mind, not a vet who thinks of them as just small dogs with a different bite pattern.
    The first time I went into Kitty Doc’s waiting room, I knew I was in the right place. There was a large marmalade boy named Virgil sitting right on the counter in front of the office computer, and Virgil jumped right down and introduced himself to my two ladies waiting in their carriers. I asked Kitty Doc whether Virgil had been named for the Roman poet or for the astronaut [Gus Grissom’s first name was Virgil], and when he said, “The poet, of course,” I really knew I had the right vet. Virgil had become the office cat because he had been abandoned on the vet’s doorstep with a mangled front paw (probably from an encounter with a lawn mower), and Kitty Doc wasn’t about to put him outside again after the paw healed. Virgil has since gone to that kitty paradise where St. Peter catches fish for the inhabitants and St. Francis grows catnip for them, but he has been succeeded by another survivor of human carelessness named Pia. Pia, a Russian Blue, manages the vet office every bit as efficiently as Virgil did, and with the same welcome to all the cats who come for checkups or treatment. It really does tell you a lot about a vet if he (or she) takes in as well as treats abandoned animals.
    The other thing about Kitty Doc is that he knows baseball. He was delighted to find out that my male tabby is named for Casey Stengel, and he talks to Casey like one fan to another– which means that Casey has no objections to going to the vet. Kitty Doc went to vet school in Illinois, and used to say that he as a Cubs fan knew all about my years-long frustration with the Phillies. And then the 2016 World Series happened. When Kitty Doc came into the examination room to check my cats that November, I said, “Hey, Chicago, give a cheer/The Cubs surprised us all this year.” He laughed and gave Casey an extra treat for supporting the National League champs.
    Kitty Doc works only part-time now; he had a mild stroke two years back, but he still likes to see “his” patients two days a week, and his partner in the practice has the same values he does. So far, the blue state where I’m presently stuck hasn’t put veterinarians in its gun sights just yet, and I’m hoping that reprieve lasts for a few more years.

  • bob December 28, 2020, 6:12 AM

    There is no joy in life that Government will not crush for your own good.

    If Biden is installed, I’m done with the laws of the United States. I will stop paying taxes, I will limit any exposure I have to the government as much as possible. I will do everything in my power to fight the Federal government as is my duty.

    I’m too old to go back to war, but I will if that is my duty. And clearly politicians WANT to make me have to choose. Peace and Tyranny or war and Liberty.

    Fcuk them. War.

  • Dirk December 28, 2020, 8:10 AM

    And another one bites the dust, our govt kills yet another business, the soul of a good and decent man. And once again, We The People grin and bear it!.

    When is enough of this blatant overreach going to be enough? When o when are We The People going to grab this gov crap by the balls, and squeeze until their eye pop out. We won’t, WE are pathetic as the sheep your good friend doctored. We’re nothing more then cash cattle.

    Ghost great tribute!.

    I miss the world I once got to be a part of!.

  • Casey Klahn December 28, 2020, 10:55 AM

    Well done, Ghostie.

    It reminds me of the piss-poor experiences we’ve gotten at the veterinarians the past few years.

    Medicine of all kinds, especially for us humans, has gone totally to hell. I used to think it was my age; I go to doctors who are all younger than I am. But, my growing lack of respect is based on the services I’ve been receiving. One asked me if I had guns in my household. None seem to really practice medicine anymore. What, I ask you, is more enervating than a class of bastards who hold a title of respect, and yet bump into one another, dither, and fail to deliver treatment?

    The good ones are now rare and I wonder what in the hell mankind will do for medicine in the next fifty years?

  • Nori December 28, 2020, 3:50 PM

    A wonderful,yet poignant,story,Ghost. Compassion and love for creatures great and small,and their humans too. A fine legacy,indeed. RIP,Doc Brester.
    Met my vet over 30 yrs ago,when he was a skinny Iowa farm kid just out of veterinary school.He’s shepherded Clan Nori thru scrapes & spider bites,shots,surgeries,and one memorable Christmas when Claudette the poodle (Mom’s dog) sniffed out the premium chocolate-covered raisins wrapped up under the tree.
    She ate the entire pound.
    Every dog owner knows both chocolate and raisins can be fatal to canines,so we were scared witless.
    Fortunately,Doc Chuck was on-call,and pulled her through. He’s a great vet,kindest heart,wonderful sense of humor.
    Compassion is an important human quality,sadly lacking in too many people these crazy days.

  • Nori December 28, 2020, 8:57 PM

    Dear Casey:Everything you said.
    The purveyors of medicine now are not what we once trusted as doctors.
    Profits and politics rule.

  • Casey Klahn December 28, 2020, 9:22 PM

    Nori, I guess character would be a good starting point for a doctor. Anyway, that field is also extra suspect to me now, so soon after their shining moment at the beginning of the pandemic.

    Now, the seemingly non-stop lying and prevaricating have pushed me over the edge.

  • Boat Guy December 29, 2020, 5:02 PM

    Count yourself out if you wish; Bob and I will not go gently. “Drive a Rifle or Ride a Boxcar”; easy choice.
    Thank you for introducing us to Dr Bester, may he rest in peace surrounded by the souls of the animals he tended.

  • Vanderleun December 29, 2020, 5:40 PM

    BG, I know Dirk and he by no means counts himself out. Far from it. I think you took his post in the wrong tone.

    Ditto for sniper for Bester.