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The sweet life
Neither fame nor Wonka's chocolate fortune can match the riches of rural life and practice


Farm owner John Rhoades keeps a notebook for Ostrum's recommendations for the health of his herd.
"Gene Wilder and I would always share a bit of chocolate every day after lunch," he says. "Part of that was living in Munich, Germany, for five months, which was an adventure unto itself."

He says he grew fond of the long, leisurely lunches and his three-hour school days.

"We were always being pulled in and out of school to shoot scenes," Ostrum says. "You had to be there at least 15 minutes for it to count toward your three hours," he says.

His tutor coordinated his assignments with his home school in Cleveland, where he returned after his turn in the spotlight, and he bought a horse with a portion of his earnings. He grew fond of the animal husbandry that horse ownership required, which nurtured his eventual ambition for veterinary medicine. "The vet that came out seemed to really like what he did," he says.

It's that catalyst that Ostrum tries to trigger for tomorrow's cast of veterinarians. He says it's important to engage aspiring practitioners and veterinary students as early as possible so mentorship opportunities can steer the best and brightest into large animal disciplines.

As if wrestling cows wasn't enough exercise, Ostrum finished the 2005 New York Marathon in less than three hours. "There is a very physical aspect to this job, but there is also the mental aspect of problem solving that is very gratifying," he says. "That's why I like this job."
"You've got to find kids early in their veterinary career to recruit them," he says. "You need to show them your practice and engage them so by the time they graduate, you've already hired them."

The practice participates in Cornell's Food Animal Medicine Exploratory to help recruit. It's also part the Academy of Rural Veterinarians (, a collaboration of Midwest veterinarians who are developing a proactive network of internships, externships and other mentorship opportunities to keep third- and fourth-year students engaged in the discipline.

"If we started earlier, then you have a shot at recruiting them," he says. "The hardest sell for some of these kids is the isolation because no one grows up on farms any more."

Pure imagination

Author Roald Dahl didn't look amused the couple days he visited the set for the movie version of his book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".

"He was pretty quiet, and I got the impression he was rather disappointed," says Dr. Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie Bucket in the 1971 film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory".

Of course, in just a couple of days, any movie set could appear to be a disjointed disappointment depending on what scene was being shot. It could be a bit frightening, too. A psychedelic boat ride springs to mind.

Even the actors aren't always sure how production will translate to the silver screen.

"I was surprised that our editor was able to make sense of it," Ostrum says.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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