When Dr. Richard Allen chose a place for his new veterinary clinic in 1968, he had to shoo cows off the property so construction could begin.
He retired two months ago, and his clinic sits on a U.S. 67/167 access road, across from McCain Mall, which was constructed five years after he opened his doors.
“We weren’t even in the city limits when we built, but when North Little Rock grew, it grew that way and it’s all around us now,” says Allen, 83, who lives about half a mile from the building he recently sold.
He decided in junior high school that he wanted to be a veterinarian.
“My folks raised cocker spaniels, just for fun, and whenever my dad would take one of the dogs to the veterinarian I would go with him and I thought, ‘I could do this. I would like to do this,'” Allen says.
He remembers when a young dog died in his arms in their backyard, breaking his heart and furthering his conviction to study so he could help animals in distress.
Allen graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Following a pre-veterinary program at Henderson State College (now Henderson State University) in Arkadelphia he went to Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Stillwater, Okla.
“I never dreamed it was going to be as hard as it was, but I made it through,” he says.
Allen met his wife, Doretta, on a tennis court in Little Rock while home on break in 1961. They married and had their first child before he graduated from veterinary school.
In 1964, he returned to North Little Rock and started work with an established veterinarian.
“I kind of liked being in practice with this guy but I guess he just didn’t have as much business as he thought he did,” Allen says. “He ran for the Senate and when he finished he came back and I got the boot.”
Allen then took over the practice of a veterinarian who had died about six months earlier.
“I even hired his technician, who was a lady that knew more veterinary medicine than I did because she had been working for him for about 20 years,” Allen says.
Allen’s father, Tandy Van Nuys Allen, was a civil engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; his mother, Thelma, was a homemaker. She became the receptionist at Allen’s clinic. Doretta was a stay-at-home-mom to their three sons then, but …….