Dr James Herriot
for His Love of Elemental Life

James Alfred Wight a.k.a. James Herriot

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away."

"The turtle lives 'twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile."—Ogden Nash

"Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like
never washed a dog."—Franklin P. Jones

"If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise."—Anonymous
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."
—Roger Caras

"God in his wisdom made the fly, and then forgot
to tell us why."—Ogden Nash

"If ever there was a time to save, it's now. When a dog gets a bone
he don't go out and make the first payment on a bigger bone.
He buries the one he's got."
—American humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935)

His writing has everything: finely drawn and colorful characters, empathy for humans and animals, a good story set in a gentler time, humor, respect for uneducated but hard-working people and an appreciation of the land.

But there is something else in Herriot's writing, a glow of decency that makes people want to be better humans. I guess we would call it spirituality these days, this profound belief of Herriot's that humans are linked to all animals, whether they be the calves he helped birth or pampered pets like Tricki Woo, Mrs. Pumphrey's lovable but overfed Pekinese.

In the introduction to "James Herriot's Dog Stories," he goes into more detail about how he always loved dogs and supposed that he would someday have an up-to-date, small-animal practice, even though veterinary medicine was in trouble in the 1930s because draft horses were being phased out and keeping small pets was seen as "slightly cissy" by the hard-working farm folk.

Even as a boy, he was intrigued by dogs: "I could never quite take dogs for granted. Why were they so devoted to the human race? Why should they delight in our company and welcome us home in transports of joy? There were so many different shapes, sizes and colors, yet they all had the same fundamental characteristics. Why, why?"

Herriot never got his small-animal practice, but he didn't care. He was content to lave cow's stomachs, lie on cold stone floors to examine downed horses and muck around in pigpens so he could spend part of each day caring for dogs and cats at Skeldale House.

"I love writing about my job because I loved it, and it was a particularly interesting one when I was a young man. It was like holidays with pay to me. I think it was the fact that I liked it so much that made the writing just come out of me automatically. I was helped by having a verbatim memory of what happened years ago, even if I can't remember what happened a couple of days ago.

"Years ago, farmers were uneducated and eccentric and said funny things, and we ourselves were comparatively uneducated. We had no antibiotics, few drugs. A lot of time was spent pouring things down cows' throats. The whole thing added up to a lot of laughs. There's more science now, but not so many laughs."

The fact that James Herriot of the imaginary Darrowby is really Alf Wight of Thirsk is no longer a secret. A quaint journalistic convention of not identifying him or his location grew up early in his writing career, when he was still practicing as a vet and would tell reporters who tracked him down, "If a farmer calls me to a sick animal, he couldn't care less if I were George Bernard Shaw."

In his story "The Card Over the Bed," Herriot writes of an old woman whose only fear is that she may never be reunited with her animals after death because some people say animals have no soul. Holding the old woman's hand, Herriot replies:

"If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. You've nothing to worry about there."

The Herriot Legacy

After our beloved veterinarian James Alfred Wight, a.k.a. James Herriot passed on in February 1995, Messenger of the Great White Brotherhood, Elizabeth Clare Prophet announced from the High Altar of King Arthur's Court at the Royal Teton Ranch, MT, USA, that the Great Karmic Board granted to the soul of this famous author of animal stories who loved and served elemental life, an honor to reside and study at one of the highest levels of the etheric plane.

"The ensoulment of trees and plants by the devas who direct the specific plant elementals assigned to categories of flora—and exist in such numberless numbers as to tend, literally, everything that grows—accounts for the undeniable fact that people who attune their spiritual centers to the Nature kingdom are able to speak to trees and plants and receive a physically perceptible response to the spark of consciousness communicated to the plant through its 'nerve system.'

"The life-force in plants and animals has been isolated in Kirlian photography, revealing an aura of universal energy, an electromagnetic field, also common to man.

"Stepping up in the scale of Life-expressions from flora to fauna, we discover by like attunement the group-soul of animal species manifesting qualities of higher intelligence. Many animals possess almost human characteristics and an uncanny sense, almost psychic in its display. This is especially true of certain breeds of dogs and horses, and is marked in the elephant
and the lower primates.

"Mammals of the sea, fish, seals, and penguins are not excluded from a very wonderful intelligence, and further study by sensitive scientists will reveal a marvelous attunement, through the heart of all Life, everywhere in the Nature kingdom.

"Entomologists never cease to be amazed at the wonders of the ant; and the goad of the wise man 'Go to the ant, thou sluggard . . . ' indicates that man has a great deal to learn from the veritable mysteries of Nature."


"I love a dog, he does nothing for political reasons."—Will Rogers

A Tribute to James Herriot Elementals and Nature Spirits

James Herriot James Herriot
Polish Version

Translation for 140 languages by ALS

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