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Dr. Keaton Smith is a graduate of the University Of Kentucky College Of Agriculture with a doctorate ...

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Dr. Smith's Journal

I chat about veterinary medicine and the life of a country animal doctor.
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Unforgettable Patients: Phoebe Carter

Unforgettable Patients: Phoebe Carter

I want to introduce you to one of the best patients I ever had as a veterinarian at Cumberland Valley Animal Hospital.  This is Phoebe Carter, owned, loved, and cared for by a great lady, Sandy Carter.  Phoebe was born December 1, 1997. Let’s put that  date in perspective. I was 27 years old when Phoebe was born. Bill Clinton was the president of the United States and the twin towers were still standing. When Phoebe passed away last month, she was 20 years and 7 months old.


I did not own CVAH when Phoebe first came as a young puppy to get her vaccinations. She had been seen by another local veterinarian for a few years, but in November of 2001, she came to board with us over a weekend while Sandy was away for a trip. She stayed with us from that point on and I’m glad she did.

Phoebe was so full of life and character. She loved to be petted. These are the Sandy’s words to describe her best friend, “She loved car rides and she would sing for ham. Everyday she would get me up when she wanted a snack or just wanted me in her space. She always had to be touching you. My little girl would lay at my feet and I would stroke her hair.  She licked my hand four times before we came in for the last time.

Phoebe was a Christian dog …yup you read right. She would sing with me and when I would pray she would sit right beside me and then, give kisses!” In 2003, Phoebe developed some disc problems in her back. For the next couple of years, everything she did she had to be careful as to not further her injury. We treated her with a few injections and anti-inflammatories and she stabilized. In 2004, she became deathly ill from an acquired pyometra. This serious infection of the reproductive tract nearly proved fatal as we took her to emergency surgery to remove the infection.

Her tenacity was tested and she proved to be a strong-spirited dog. With a lot of prayers, and nearly a week in the hospital, she pulled through and did fine. In 2007 her sneaky behavior almost got the best of her when she ate a (gasp) chicken bone! The splintery effects left her with a serious gastritis and intestinal disease. She spent several days with me getting over her blockages and ulcerative disease.

unforgettable patients phoebe carter 2However, once again, she came through it with flying colors. Again in 2007, she faced the biggest struggle of her life. Overnight she developed an ulcerative tumor of the right mammary chain. It turned out to be Mammary Carcinoma and it was aggressive. Cancer isn’t fun for any species, and Sandy and I worried ourselves sick that we wouldn’t be able to remove it all, or that it had already spread.

The decision to perform a radical, bilateral mastectomy was made with a lot of prayer and faith. I am glad to report that within two weeks after the surgery, Phoebe was completely healed and never looked back. A true cancer survivor.

This wonderful canine taught me a lot of great lessons about life and about medicine.

One of the most important is that these are not just dogs, these are our our family.

  1. Family is worth fighting for and worth not giving up on in the face of a crisis.
  2. Next, not all bad cancers win!
  3. And lastly, prayer works!

I’ll never forget you, Phoebe! Sandy, thank you for sharing her with me, and with all of us! God Bless.

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A Friday Poem: Sluggard
Reflections: Boy Scout Camp. 2015

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Cumberland Valley Animal Hospital

110 Lagoon Trail
London, Kentucky, 40744
P: (606) 864-9120
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