Exploring Global

In just over a week, the Oxbow crew will be heading south to Orlando, Florida for the 2016 Global Pet Expo.  Oxbow has attended Global for many years, and it serves as one of the primary stages to reveal new products, new packaging, and new innovations in general.  Global, like many other industry trade events, is also a great opportunity to connect with both longtime partners, new partners, and future partners.  For me, it's always exciting to walk the massive show floor and "explore."  I love to see what others are doing in the small animal industry, as well as in other industries.  Rather than just casually glancing at what other companies are doing, I think it's even more interesting to truly explore - to ask questions, to listen, to see where other people's passions lie.  From the beginning, innovation has helped shape the way Oxbow approaches business.  The same holds true today, as our sales and marketing teams are working busily on preparing the latest round of new materials to reveal at the show.  In the words of marine biologist Edith Widder, "Exploration is the engine that drives innovation.  Innovation drives economic growth.  So, let's all go exploring." 

Bunnies in Baskets

Each holiday season, we feel blessed to be able to make a donation to a deserving organization working to make the world a better place - for people, animals, or, better yet, both.  This year, we provided a gift to a truly special organization - Bunnies in Baskets.  We met the BIB folks at Midwest BunFest in Ohio earlier this year, and were immediately taken by their kindness and mission.  Run fully by volunteers, Bunnies in Baskets works to resuce, foster, and adopt neglected, abused, an/or abandoned rabbits.  What's even more amazing is what some of those special bunnies do next. 

The most affectionate, outgoing, and "people-curious" rabbits are trained to visit individuals in need.  Through a series of activities, these special bunnies provide therapy assistance in the form of animal assisted activities, animal assisted therapy, and animal support services.  Some examples of these activities include therapy settings where the bunnies help promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, or cognitive function.

The positive effects that animals can have on human health and wellness is well documented and inspiring.  For many, the companionship and love of a pet is an everyday comfort and joy.  But, there are many others who may not be in a position to care for a pet in their present situation or otherwise.  For these individuals, it's so heartwarming to know that there are good people like those at Bunnies in Baskets who are willing to bring the companionship, affection, and interaction of animals to them in their time of need.

Veterans Day

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations." -Woodrow Wilson

Today is a day that holds meaning for so many.  President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the day that would become Veterans Day (then called Armistice Day) in 1919.  Originally established to remember the fallen after World War I, Veterans Day now recognizes all those who have served our great country throughout history.  I’ve written often of my father’s service as a fighter pilot in World War II.  I am extremely proud of his many missions and his service, and thankful for the freedom that he and so many others fought to defend.  

It’s easy to lose sight of the sacrifices of others during our day to day activities.  Our liberties, freedoms, and comforts don’t exist in a vacuum; they were not spontaneously granted to us.  These liberties, these freedoms, these comforts are all linked to sacrifices made by millions of dedicated men and women over many decades, as well as today.  

Some of you who are reading this may be veterans yourselves; I thank you deeply for your service.  For the rest of us, I encourage you to take a moment to thank and be thankful for the veterans in your lives – not just today, but every day, for all they have given.  

Philosophy and Farming

“Farming is a profession of hope.” – Brian Brett

I occasionally find myself in a position to share my experiences with young people, an audience which often includes college students.  As a farmer for almost all of my adult life, I’m often drawn to use these opportunities to discuss my experiences and lifelong relationship with agriculture.  Farming is a simple concept – you plant a seed, foster it in various ways, and, some number of days and months later, harvest what it yields.  In practice, farming is remarkably complex.  The profession involves many learned, varied skills, practices and endless planning.  And then there’s the hoping.

As much as farming has to do with laboring, it’s equal parts an exercise in philosophy and faith.  I can’t think of many other professions where months of hard work can be undone in a single moment.  Farmers are at the mercy of Mother Nature every second of every day.  If you’re not a philosophical person by nature, farming will turn you into one.  Farming requires you to trust not only in your own abilities and work ethic, but in forces wholly out of your control. 

Of all of the lessons farming has taught me, the most important are philosophical in nature.  A tractor and planter are used to put a seed in the ground, but patience, faith, and hope are required to watch it grow.  

Recognizing Greatness

I often talk about how much Oxbow cherishes our relationship to the veterinary community. We have partnered with key veterinarians from our earliest days, and this relationship continues to inspire and guide us today. As a small symbol of our appreciation for the selfless work of veterinary leaders, we recognize one special individual each year with the Oxbow Exotic Mammal Health Award. The award is presented annually at the joint conference of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians/Association of Avian Veterinarians/Association of Reptilian & Amphibian Veterinarians. I’m excited to announce that this year’s winner is Dr. Brendan Carmel of Australia. Dr. Carmel is a true standout in the field of exotics medicine, and continues to inspire, lead, and teach others each day.  I invite you to learn more about Dr. Carmel and his ongoing legacy of great work in the field of veterinary medicine.  To all the veterinarians out there, thank you so much for all you do!