Howard Fisher began his career in 1986 as a custodian on the main campus of Texas A&M; University, but his love of horses motivated him to apply for an animal caretaker position in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (VLCS) at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). “I really wanted to spend more time with horses,” Fisher said. He obtained the position in VLCS, and 30 years of service later, he continues to enjoy his work.
Custodian to Animal Caretaker
As an animal caretaker, Fisher’s duties have changed. Now, his job includes taking care of animals and the land where they are kept. At the CVM, his responsibilities include mowing pastures, spraying weeds, cleaning water troughs, and cleaning pens. In addition, Fisher feeds, waters, grooms, bathes, exercises, and moves horses-and occasionally cattle-from the land where they are kept to campus for use in labs for veterinary students.
Fisher spends many hours every week grooming the horses and caring for their hooves because he believes routine grooming adds aesthetic value to an animal. Fisher also ensures the horses stay active because exercise keeps the horses healthy and in good physical shape. Fisher also loves to monitor behavioral and health changes in the animals. “A sudden change in temperament or physical habit may be a sign that there is a problem,” Fisher said. “If an animal needs medication, I bring them to the Large Animal Hospital (LAH) for a medical examination and treatment.”
Memories Collected over Three Decades
During his time spent working at the LAH, one incident that remains fresh in Fisher’s memory is the Friday afternoon a man walked into the clinic with two bay horses. The horses paced in slowly, with excess saliva bubbling from their lips and sweat dripping from their body. One of the horses carried backpacks, while the other had camping materials strapped on its back. “At first sight of these horses, you would have thought they were ill,” Fisher recalled, “but after taking a detailed history, we found out that the man had ridden the horses from Canada to College Station.” Fisher said the horses were taken into the stable and given some food and water. Afterward, the veterinarian on duty provided medical attention. The horses spent that weekend at the hospital, while the owner camped in a little tent just outside the hospital door. On Monday, the man’s wife came with a trailer to pick him and the horses up to make the trip back to Canada.
Fisher serves as a resource for his co-workers. “Howard has an amazing attitude. When you call on him, he is always on time and ready to help,” said Erin Lester, assistant manager for VLCS and Fisher’s supervisor. Lester also said Fisher is handy at keeping the facilities functioning well and looking presentable, and he is also reliable for tasks, such as moving furniture for faculty members and operating equipment like forklifts, tractors, shredders, skid steers, mowers, and front end loaders.
Family and Fun
“I spend my spare time with my wife, children, and grandchild,” said Fisher. “I also love riding on the back of quarter horses at the United States Trail Ride club.” His love for horse riding is greater than his desire to watch an Aggie football game. In fact, he said he has not been to an Aggie football game in 35 years.
Fisher loves wearing jeans, eating hamburgers, and listening to soul music. He lives in Hearne, about 26 miles from College Station, and enjoys the small-town atmosphere. “I was born here, and I don’t want to live anywhere else,” said Fisher. “It is a small city where you know everybody.”
Fisher reminisced about the last three decades of working at Texas A&M; and said, “I am happy that I have been able to come this far. I attribute my success with my job to hard work, dedication, determination, commitment, and respect for authority.” Fisher hopes to spend a few more years at the CVM to enjoy more time with the horses before retirement. “Moving horses around is one thing I love doing. In fact, when I am in their company, I feel like I am at home with my family,” he said.