28 June, 2013
Dr. Joshua Vaughan, DVM
Columbia Hospital for Animals
1502 Nashville Highway
Columbia, TN 38401
Dear Dr. Vaughan ~
Just about the time you asked me if I would be willing to write something for your web page, I had been thinking that I would love to do something to show my
gratitude for all you have done for the three dogs and six cats that you have cared for since 2010 when you took over Dr. Porter’s practice. Your request
presented the perfect opportunity for me and my husband, John, to say “thank you.”
I’ve been staring at a blank piece of paper (well, keyboard) for several weeks, figuring out how to say to anyone looking for a veterinarian and who might
consider you and your staff for that job, what I should say. Putting my comments in letter form seemed to be the best way to share how we feel about your
expertise, character and love of animals.
So, from the heart, because my little four-footed friends are like my children, you are wise, caring, tender and respectful of not only animals, but their
care-takers as well. (Not to mention, an extremely skilled surgeon. Read on, below) A vet can be skilled, technically and academically, but there is
another important attribute that not all vets possess, and that is making sure that the guardians of these little ones, when you go for either routine care
or emergency issues, feel that you care for them too and understand what we, as “parents” go though when we take a sick, old or ailing animal for help.
So, should I tell my friends looking for a new vet, about our old-timer, Henry, who had a benign but massive tumor on his chest below his front right leg
that was impeding him from walking correctly? And that several other vets advised that the surgery to remove it would be life-threatening, and chose not to
help Henry? And that you reassured me that you had performed the same surgery on several other animals older than Henry? We consented for you to take off
the awful tumor, and Henry sailed through with flying colors, thanks to your expertise and confidence that it could be done. For the next three years, Henry
was able to walk and run normally without pain, and had a quality of life so much better than he’d had for several years until his death on March 30, 2013,
at age 16 years and a few months.
I would also tell anyone willing to listen about March 30, 2013. We knew Henry was pretty much at the end of his long life. He had been deaf for quite a
while, and cataracts clouded the big brown eyes. Arthritis kept him from running up and down our long staircase to the upstairs bedroom where Henry and his
two buddies, Minnie (Boston Terrier) and little Buster (a 10 pound scraggly, but beloved orphan), slept in our bed, as they had from the beginnings of their
lives with us. Nightly, John carried Henry up and down, put him in the bed, and in early morning carried him back down the stairs. A week before he passed,
Henry decided he could jump out of the bed as he used to in younger times, and landed wrong. Unbeknowst to us, he injured himself, and you diagnosed a
pinched nerve. The morning of Saturday, March 30, Henry fell to the kitchen floor and lost control of his rear legs and hips. We knew it was Henry’s time,
and, the dreaded phone call to you. Yes, it was Saturday and your normal day off, the staff told me when I called in tears. But, Paige said she would try
to contact you, as you often took emergencies even when you were not in the office. It was only a few minutes before she called back, saying you were on
your way to pick up supplies and would come to our house as soon as possible. We had gotten the old fella outside as he had eaten his breakfast, and he was
never one to do his business inside the house, even under these sad circumstances. Henry only made it to the backporch and collapsed again, crying in pain.
We covered him with a blanket (it was raining and chilly), and it was less than 20 minutes before you, with tech, Terri, arrived.
The following is the reason you will always be our vet. You knelt in front of Henry, but out of his failing eyesight, and spoke gently to him and conversed
with us calmly and quietly about what was going to happen. You even had a short chat with Noah, our big cat, as he was at your elbow, determined to find out
what was going on with Henry. Giving us a few more minutes for us to love on our beloved old hound, and reassure him was priceless. It was your day off and
you were spending it with your family before I called, and yet you came to our aid when we desparately wanted you to take Henry over the Rainbow Bridge, and
not in the hands of a stranger.
The end of this particular story is that Henry crossed over in no pain, with the people who loved him, and his “family doctor” at his side. You were gentle
and kind, not only to Henry, but most certainly to us. You and your wonderful staff even sent a sympathy card that everyone signed and wrote a message.
That card is in Henry’s cremation urn underneath his ashes. Again, so very thoughtful, but typical of your consistent people skills.
Perhaps the above story is a dramatic and sad one to some, but my point is that not all vets would have done what you did. You also maintain the same kindly
demeanor when our other dogs and cats go in for a simple check-up. If one of them is shaking with fear, as so many animals are when they get the scent of
being at the vet’s, you sit on the floor and chat with us and the patient while running your hands gently, doing an exam without them knowing. The stress of
the office visit immediately goes away.
As for your staff? The best! Knowledgeable, professional, polite, and obviously as evolved as you are, in setting an example for the people who work for
you. Believe me in that as many animals as we have, John and I have contact with these people several times a month and can vouch that they are first class!
So, dear Dr. V., writing a little something for your web site gives me great pleasure, and, in some way, lets me tell not only you, but anyone else who wants
the best care for their “little people in dog (or cat) suits,” that we hope you stay in Columbia forever. If, for some reason, you have to relocate, we’ll
be the first ones driving whatever distance it takes to have you care for our little buddies.
While I’m at it, let me add that the clinic is spotlessly clean, waiting room furnishings pleasing to the eye, and we seldom, if ever, have to wait more than
a few minutes before being ushered into an exam room. The coffee machine is a great addition, but we never have a chance to use it, thanks to your
Camille and John Allen