An Aspiring Bond: Aspen’s Fight

Carol Barrette of New Hampshire has a place in her heart for Labrador retrievers. Her parents were proud owners throughout her life, and when their two longtime Labradors passed away, Carol knew it was time for her to have one of her own. As fate would have it, a short time later Carol received a call from her aunt who was an employee at a local veterinary hospital.

“My aunt called and said that someone found a young yellow Labrador retriever running along the highway,” said Carol. “The hospital couldn’t find any trace of his family and he didn’t have any identification. I went to the veterinary hospital that day and instantly fell in love. His coat was a beautiful yellow shade so I named him ‘Aspen’ after the fall leaves of the local Aspen trees.”

Since that fateful day, Aspen has grown into a loving companion who enjoys swimming and playing the snow. Aspen loves visiting the family’s vacation spot along the South Carolina coast, and although he’s now 11-years-old, he hasn’t lost a step.

“He’s the best dog I’ve ever known, and he brings a smile to everyone he meets,” said Carol. “He’s like a son to me and that’s why I signed him up for pet insurance when he was just a puppy. I wanted to make sure he has medical insurance just like I do.”

Over his lifetime, Aspen has had his fair share of minor ailments and injuries, but the last brought his first major scare. Aspen has been dealing with allergies in his older age, which has caused watery eyes and requires him to take medication occasionally. However, one day Aspen’s allergies were more severe than usual and one of his tear ducts appeared to be swollen. Carol felt it was better safe than sorry and scheduled a visit to their local veterinary hospital.

Upon initial review the veterinary staff was unsure of any additional problems. However, they eventually discovered a small bubble type mass in the corner of Aspen’s eye. They recommended that Carol take Aspen to a veterinary Ophthamologist in a neighboring city for further examination.  Once at the specialty hospital, the staff took a sample from the mass to run further tests.

“They took a sample and said they would call us in a couple of days when the results were in,” said Carol. “A few days later, the office called and said that the results revealed that the object was a mass cell tumor and that Aspen had cancer. I was instantly brought to tears, but I wasn’t going to give up on him.”

Shortly after that emotional phone call, Aspen underwent his first surgery to have the tumor removed. Aspen’s next step was his first appointment with a veterinary oncologist to find out what the extent of his disease was. Aspen underwent a variety of tests including MRI’s and ultrasounds to look for more tumors in his body, and the results proved optimistic.

“The results showed that the cancer hadn’t spread, but the oncologist still had some concerns,” said Carol. “She was worried that part of Aspen’s inner eyelid could have some remnants of cancer left and recommended a second surgery.”

After going under the knife for a second successful time, tests showed that Aspen’s cancer had not spread into his eyelids, and he was deemed to be in remission. Aspen has since made a full recovery from his battle with cancer, but Carol remains vigilant and continues to take the lovable Labrador in for screenings every three months.

“Catching this disease early really saved him. I’m so grateful to everyone who helped extend his life,” said Carol. “He’s still so full of energy, you would never guess he went through all of this. He loves life so much, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he lives it to the fullest.”

You can help support pets like Aspen throughout November during National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Nationwide will donate $5 on your behalf for every social media post with #CurePetCancer2017. Visit to find out how you can raise awareness and $50k for cancer research.


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