STILLWATER – Cushing veterinarian Dr. Rebekah Hartfield is making a name for herself in an unusual way: Through a series of children’s books featuring her literary alter ego Dr. H.
Hartfield is hoping to expose young readers to veterinary medicine and to farm animals in the hope of encouraging more of them to consider becoming rural, large animal veterinarians.
She stepped away from work at Cushing Veterinary Clinic where she treats animals large and small to travel across state last week and share her first book, “Rosie the Pig” through readings in schools and libraries.
Hartfield and a piglet standing in for the real-life Rosie, made stops in Perkins, Cushing, Drumright and Stillwater as part of her tour.
Cindy Caraway’s first grade class at Highland Park Elementary School in Stillwater enjoyed the reading. But they were really excited to meet Rosie.
“I never saw a pig in my whole life,” said a boy named Joel.
Only five of the approximately 20 children in the class said they had actually seen a real pig and fewer had seen a piglet.
Hartfield said she wouldn’t have been surprised to hear that almost none of them had ever touched a pig. She’s finding that a lot as she and Rosie meet different groups of children.
Even in more rural areas, only about one-fourth of the younger kids she meets have any experience with farm animals.
There is a critical shortage of large animal veterinarians in the U.S. and fewer than 17 percent of veterinary graduates go into rural care, she said.
The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that less than 8 percent of more than 105,000 practicing veterinarians focus on large animals.
Hartfield says the inspiration for the books came while her sister was a graphic design student at the University of North Texas.
She had been looking for a way to brand herself professionally and…