Lima Police Patrolman Zane Slusher with the newest member of the K-9 Unit, “Fanto.” Delphos Animal Hospital has been providing veterinary services for the Lima K-9s for 16 years. (Submitted photo)
Lima Police Patrolman Zane Slusher with the newest member of the K-9 Unit, “Fanto.” Delphos Animal Hospital has been providing veterinary services for the Lima K-9s for 16 years. (Submitted photo)
I’ve been seeing a lot of tattoos in our office lately. It seems like they’re everywhere, and on everybody. Summer attire might have something to do with this, being what it is, or isn’t. No parts appear to be off limits - feet, legs, hands, arms, shoulders, necks… relax, I’ll stop there. I don’t have any tattoos myself, if you haven’t already guessed. I’m too chicken.

To be honest, though, I truly don’t understand what the appeal of a tattoo is, or why people want to get them so badly. Oh, if you were a Marine and have “USMC” or “Semper Fi” stamped on you- I get that. Or, if you are a cancer survivor and want to celebrate your health, or honor a lost loved one, I get that, too. But some of the designs, written phrases, and ethnic symbols, I just don’t get. I know I’m showing my ignorance…or “fogey-ness.” One thing I have not detected in any of the tattooed that I have met, however, is regret.

Several of my co-workers have tattoos, some of them still pretty fresh. For all I know, they may all have a tattoo. Dr. Bonnie Jones doesn’t have any. I can attest to that.

One of my co-workers had been contemplating getting a half- sleeve for quite some time. I’ve never been what I’d describe as an “arm” man before, but this girl has really beautiful arms. “Why do you want to do that to your arm?,” I would ask her over and over again . She always replied that I sounded like her mother. I took that as a compliment.

After the deed was finally done, she came to work the next day with her newly inked arm covered with clear tape. “Thank God you got a stick-on!” I exclaimed. She laughed. It wasn’t a stick-on. It was real. Obviously, the tattoo wasn’t a choice I would have made, but if it makes her happy, then who am I to judge?

In regard to my clients with tattoos, I have no problem not judging them as well. Over the last thirty plus years, some of the most dedicated and conscientious pet care-givers I have dealt with have had multiple tattoos, and several even had a good amount of body piercings. Apparently, the same attention to detail that applies to their body art also applies to the care of their pets. Like they say, you shouldn’t judge a book, or your clients, by their colorful covers.

In spite of all the tattoos I saw this summer, there is another that stands out in my memory. I witnessed it in the summer of 1969. My parents and I went on a trip to visit my Uncle Hugh and his family. They lived in Scarsdale, about an hour north of New York City.

On the Sunday morning of our stay, Uncle Hugh took my dad and me to a local bagel shop. The man behind the counter was middle-aged and had curly, sandy-gray hair. He also had the most expressive eyes. They were quite cheery when the man engaged a customer, but when he turned away, his eyes suddenly became exceedingly sad.

Then I saw a tattoo on his left forearm. It consisted simply of numbers, I think six of them. I couldn’t help but stare. Although it was my ninth birthday, I didn’t have to ask what the numbers meant. I just knew.

The man didn’t try to cover the tattoo, and obviously hadn’t had it removed. I can only imagine that the numbers, a symbol of what humans are capable of doing to one another, to him were also a symbol of life. As far as I know, he is the only Holocaust survivor I have ever encountered.

Nearly half a century later, I’ve not forgotten that moment nor what his tattoo represented. Children see things they remember forever. If they see something bad, hopefully, something good can be learned from that experience.

Dr. John H. Jones raises Southdown sheep and practices at Delphos Animal Hospital with his wife, Dr. Bonnie Jones. Both are 1985 graduates of Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.