By: Melissa and Peter Stanz
Our beloved Walden died on February 10, 2011. He was a 14 ½ year old chocolate lab, our constant companion, the child we loved and spoiled in lieu of human kids. Walden started his long life with a trip to North Asheville vets for a clean bill of health—for 14+ years he loved his trips to the vet, especially those cookies and all the attention.
Through the years Walden received annual checkups and treatments for minor ailments—then when he was 6 he blew out his first ACL. Referred to the wonderful orthopedic vet in town, he ended up with plates and screws in his right hind. Two years later, the left hind ACL blew, more plates and screws. And, inevitably, the beginning of arthritis. Dr. Amy Plankenhorn and Dr. Susan Wootten helped him all the way—even after these experiences, he loved going to the North Asheville vets.
Three years ago during a routine teeth cleaning, Dr. Thompson found a spot on his tongue, nothing big, but he called us while Walden was still under anesthesia, suggesting a biopsy. It was melanoma, cancer on the tongue. With the diagnosis we began a long, strange journey—one guided by Dr. Wootten. She helped us find a Board Certified surgeon in Greenville, SC who had the expertise to do the extensive surgery required for this melanoma. After surgery, Dr. Wootten counseled us on the next steps. She helped set up a referral to NC State University for experimental drug treatment—a melanoma vaccine. We were fortunate; the vaccine and the surgery combined gave our precious dog another almost three years with us.
During his last two years, old age, arthritis, laryngeal paralysis, and a horrible stomach resulting from all the pain meds took their toll. Dr. Wootten, the vet techs, and the entire office staff talked with us countless times, providing options and warm, caring words. We knew we were in good hands; we had total trust in them.
And yet, his time came. When it did, Susan and Linda, her exam room assistant, who both knew and loved Walden, were so gentle and caring as they helped Walden pass from this life while we cried, petted him, and told him he was the best dog in the universe. They helped us through the process in such a caring manner and seemed to feel so much of our pain.
They showed us loving kindness. We will forever be grateful for the excellent care and graceful death they gave our baby boy, and the caring compassion all the North Asheville staff gave so freely to us. We are clients for life. Thank you.
Melissa and Peter Stanz
First two photographs by Benjamin Porter, a local photographer.