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Mind Over Miller: Farewell, Dr. Sims


Dr. Miller remembers a colleague, and has a proposal for adventurous veterinarians.

I mentioned, some time ago, that for the past decade I've had the good fortune to speak each year at the Hawaii Horse Expo. I speak for two days of the expo but try to stay in Hawaii for two weeks. It usually occurs around the time of my wife and I's wedding anniversary, so it serves as a welcome way to celebrate. This year was our 59th anniversary. The Hawaii Humane Society, which sponsors the expo, includes a horseback trail ride, a snorkeling cruise and other recreational activities for the speakers, so we have a great time.

A couple years ago we decided to go to the island of Kaua'i after the expo, which is held on the Big Island of Hawaii. I checked the American Veterinary Medical Association directory to see if there was a colleague on the north side of the island. That less populated, scenically spectacular side was our destination.

I contacted Dr. Scott Sims and told him that I would like to stop by for a brief visit while we were there. “Great!” he said, “I'll take you up in my airplane for a tour of the island.”

We did it! We enjoyed a visit with Dr. Sims and the gorgeous flight in the airplane, which he built himself from a kit. He used it to make calls in his very varied mixed practice, not only on Kaua'i, but to the other islands as well.

A year or so afterward, I was surprised and pleased to see that Dr. Sims had become the star of a new TV show, Aloha Vet, joining three other shows about veterinary practices on the National Geographic Wild channel. On some Saturdays, the channel plays 12 hours of programming about veterinary practices. I try to watch them if I am home and was especially pleased to see Dr. Sims included, as I had become acquainted with him and his unusual practice.

Then, I was distressed to learn that in July, Dr. Sims had passed away after a battle with cancer.

While at this year's Hawaii Horse Expo I met two of his former employees. One, an RVT, told me that Dr. Sims' passing had left the north side of Kaua'i without a local veterinary service, and the entire island without a large animal practitioner.

She asked me, since I travel constantly as a lecturer, to put the word out and try to recruit a veterinarian to do mixed practice on this magnificent island. I told her about my Mind Over Miller columns and promised to mention it.

Kaua'i is incredible. It has the only navigable river in Hawaii. It has a grand canyon rivaling the one in Arizona, supreme beaches, coral reefs, rain forests, appealing towns and villages, dramatic mountains, cattle ranches and horse farms. There are an amazing variety of pets and domestic species. It's a true paradise.

Interested in going? The practice would require a lot of driving, but you'll never tire of the scenery. You really don't need an airplane-the island has good roads. If I was looking for a place to start a practice … No, I'm retired!

Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at robertmmiller.com.

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