For MU's vet school, Tim and Terry carry on a Missouri tradition
The Missouri mule is an icon across generations. For those of a generation old enough to remember the last vestiges of animal-powered livestock, mules were a sturdy asset on the farm. And many know that Missouri mules were made famous during World War I, when British military forces contracted a Missouri firm, Guyton and Harrington, as its exclusive supplier of mules. That company’s 15,000-acre farm near Lathrop, Mo., shipped some 350,000 mules during the course of the war. The mule industry has waned since, but it is not forgotten.
For today’s generation, the Missouri Mule is embodied by Tim and Terry, a pair of mules owned by the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine. They have become a recruitment tool for the college. And at a time when large-animal veterinarian practices are alarmingly scarce, MFA is happy to support the team.
Tim and Terry were donated to the college by Mexico, Mo.-based Sydenstricker Implement and are actually the third pair of mules to represent MU’s vet school. The first pair were Hilda and Louise, who were followed by Hilda and Louise II (or Jill and Shirley). The first Hilda and Louise arrived at the college in 1984, beginning what has become a well-known tradition.
For the past several years, Tim and Terry have fueled their mule ambassador activities with MFA’s Legends Feeds, specifically the carb-control and senior diet. MFA’s feed products marketing manager Janice Spears said that the cooperative is glad to support the college by supporting the mule team, especially if the public relations impact from the mules helps bolster the supply of large-animal veterinarians in the future.
The mules are cared for by a cadre of first- and second-year vet school students, all of them members of the Mule Club. These students feed and care for the mules as well as schedule public appearances throughout the year.
Caitlin Schuessler is the MU Mule Club president. The St. Louis-area native grew up around her father, James,’ vet practice and had heard about the college’s mules prior to being admitted to the vet school.
Schuessler explained that there is plenty of work shared by the students. Officers are all second-year students. Third-year students, she said, get too busy with hospital work to devote enough time to the club.
“We keep busy with events,” Caitlin said. “We attend fairs, parades. We’ve done a wedding or two. Our main goal is to provide a public relations outlet for the school. Hopefully we inspire people to attend. There is a shortage of veterinarians right now, and it’s getting worse—particularly among large-animal practices.”
While the club is run by students, they enjoy the help and advice of three advisors, Chair of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, Dr. John Dodam, Dr. Martha Rasch and Dr. James Thorne.
As for public relations, Caitlin said that Terry is a bit more natural than Tim. “Terry is a little friendlier. Tim is more skittish.” But both serve an invaluable purpose. Aside from piquing interest in potential students, she said, the mules are great general ambassadors for livestock.
“People with urban backgrounds are excited to see them,” said Caitlin, “We get to answer a lot of questions.”