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Heart Pawing Tales – Jan 2011

A Canine Cardiac Alert
By Jeanette McIlvain

My family and I were the proud owners of a purebred male fawn Boxer named Harley. He was lovable, adorable and definitely a member of the family.

When you pulled in the driveway you could count on Harley watching for you out the window. He loved to play basketball and soccer, chase the birds out of the yard and lay down in the sun like a turtle. He couldn’t wait to go for a ride or take a jwalk.

One weekend, while taking him for a walk, he started acting strangely; he was stopping, walking right beside me when he was normally out in the lead. Concerned, I turned around and took him home; thankfully we were only a couple of houses away. It took almost 15 minutes to get Harley to climb the steps into the kitchen. Our veterinarian saw us first thing Monday morning. He could find nothing physically wrong with Harley and by this time things were getting worse. He wasn’t his spunky self and all he wanted to do was lay around. A second veterinarian was recommended, one that was new in town and had state-of-the-art equipment.

I dropped Harley off at the new veterinarian’s office and waited for all of the tests to be completed. When I picked Harley up, the tests had all been inconclusive and it was suggested that we see a veterinary cardiologist right away.

By this time, Harley’s body temperature was dropping and he would not eat anything. He could not walk for more than a few steps, and even collapsed, so I had to carry him everywhere. That night I slept with him on the floor, curled up together in a blanket. The next morning, Harley was even worse as we headed to the cardiologist’s office.

After our arrival, the next two hours were nail-biting as I waited to hear the outcome. We learned that Harley had a mass growing in the right ventricle of his heart which limited the blood flow. I was told that this is a condition that only affects one percent of dogs a year, is not breed-specific and is not preventable because the cause is unknown.

The only sensible option I had was to euthanize my baby and prevent further suffering. He was only five-and-a-half years old. It was heart-wrenching to watch Harley struggle to show me that he was trying to be okay. I did not stop crying from the moment that the cardiologist shared his diagnosis until almost two weeks later.

I allowed the cardiologist to perform an autopsy on Harley to help research efforts for this affliction. Harley has not been gone very long and it is hard not having him around. We haven’t gotten another dog yet, but we will someday soon.

I wanted to share my story with Barking Bulletin readers so that other dog owners would be aware of this rare condition.
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Becky and Her Legacies
By Cheryl Schuman

In 1982, I spotted an ad for a Skye Terrier, a breed I had always wanted. I had been around dog shows most of my life and was currently without a dog to show. We were a young family on a budget but my dad lent us the money so we could make our special purchase.

Becky was a rescue dog and there is a very happy ending to her story. She became a beloved and a treasured member of our family for the next twelve years. Becky went on to produce several champions for me. She was so brave, knew no danger and would have given her life to protect me or my children. She was always a faithful and loving companion.

At the age of 16, Becky went to the Rainbow Bridge, with my arms around her, and me telling her how much I loved her and would miss her.

Today, Becky’s 10th generation grandpuppies are making their show debuts and are being loved and properly cared for by their families, just as we loved her those many long years ago.

One of them is Becky’s granddaughter Carsyn (registered name Ch. Marwyn Whisper My Name, MR), seen in the adjacent photograph being shown by my granddaughter, Baylie. Carsyn recently received her first Grand Champion point at the Rocky Mountain All Terrier show. Carsyn’s litter brother, Marwyn Blackfyre Rebellion (Rebel) recently earned Winners Dog and Best of Winners honors. Becky’s legacies continue to flourish!
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In Memory of Bruiser
By Katie Thoele

Our dog Bruiser gained his wings this summer after being suddenly taken by Blastomycosis. He was diagnosed after a trip to Wisconsin, doing what he loved best: camping, playing around the water, chasing chippies, and taking naps on a warm afternoon. We would like to share what we have learned with Barking Bulletin readers.

Blastomycosis is a fungal organism that lives in sandy, acidic soil in close proximity to water. Veterinarians report blastomycosis more frequently in the fall. It is endemic in Ohio, Mississippi, and St. Lawrence River Valleys, the Great Lakes region, and along the eastern seaboard. The Eagle River, Wisconsin and surrounding vicinities are known for this fungus.

Dogs usually acquire blastomycosis by inhaling the spores from the soil into the lungs, where it induces a self-limiting pulmonary infection. By far, the most common form of blastomycosis seen by veterinarians is the generalized or disseminated form, which spreads via the bloodstream or lymphatic system from the lungs to involve the eyes, brain, bone, lymph nodes, skin and subcutaneous tissues.

The clinical signs of blastomycosis, also known as ‘blasto,’ may vary with the affected target organs and might include one or all of the following: anorexia, depression, weight loss, fever of 103 degrees (or higher, that doesn’t respond to antibiotics), coughing, shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, enlarged lymph nodes, eye disease or skin lesions.

Blasto is very dangerous and has a high potential to be fatal, however it is treatable. Know the warning signs and get to your veterinarian early if your dog shows any of these symptoms.

We are grateful to the Silver Spring Animal Wellness Center and the Silver Spring Emergency Center who worked very hard to keep Bruiser with us.

For more information on Blastomycosis or “Blasto” visit and
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My Heaven Sent Dogs
By April Jones

I would like to share a story about a wonderful dog that came into my life through prayers — both mine and the man who sold her to me.

Looking for companionship after some difficult times in my life, I specifically prayed for a female English Bulldog. I wanted one old enough to be a good companion, without all the time involved in raising a puppy — but young enough to grow and bond with me. Unbeknownst to me, a seller was also praying for his beloved four-legged friend to find a good, loving ‘forever’ home before his upcoming wedding.

I will never forget that day — I woke up earlier than usual and anxiously looked through ads for canines. Miraculously, I found “FOR SALE, gorgeous female English Bulldog, 1-1/2 Years old, housebroken and good with children and other pets.” My heart skipped a beat, and then raced as I called the owner. The dog was still available and he promised to send me photos. He told me that he too had been praying — for just the right owner for his dog.

When I received the photos, I noticed that the dog had a crooked smile, her legs were too skinny and she was much smaller than what I wanted. My first thought was not to call the owner back. Then, a little voice in my mind whispered, “Do you always look photogenic in pictures?” Did you not pray for the perfect companion? You asked nothing about award-winning looks.” I reconsidered and arranged to meet the owner and the dog that afternoon.

It was definitely ‘love at first sight’ because as soon as the dog saw me, she knocked me over and smothered me with kisses. The owner allowed me to take her home for a trial period to make certain the dog would be happy. I named her ‘Maggy’ and she became mine. We became inseparable and did everything together, even the laundry! She became my best friend forever. We bonded even more during my difficult divorce.

Unfortunately, I lost Maggy later on, after serious complications when she gave birth to six puppies. Before she died, I gave Maggy hugs for five straight minutes and carefully described each puppy to her. It took every last bit of Maggy’s strength as she lifted up her head to look at me, as if to say “Don’t leave me.”

I was numb as I drove home from the veterinarian’s office after her death. I was reminded by others that I needed to carry on and be strong for Maggy’s babies. The only puppy that looked like Maggy was too emotionally painful for me to keep, but I did choose ‘Cookie,’ the pick of the litter.

Today Cookie and I do everything together that I did with Maggy, even road trips, barbequing, and, yes, the laundry too! She reminds me a lot of Maggy. I remembered my promise to Maggy that I would never leave her. I have kept my promise — Cookie and I regularly visit Maggy’s gravesite, located where she and I walked on the last day we spent together outside.

I know that God really does answer the smallest of prayers. Maggy carried me through more difficult days than I could have ever imagined and now I have Cookie. Maggy and Cookie were certainly heaven sent!
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Always Have Faith
By Jesica Songer

When the last puppy in the litter was born, she didn’t appear to be alive. Before her had come five other Golden Retriever puppies, all healthy and ready for life in this great, big universe. Then came the sweet puppy I would later name Faith.

Faith was smaller than her brothers and sisters and sadly, was not breathing. As I began to panic, the breeder calmly took Faith into her hands, wiped off her nose and mouth and began giving her breaths while rubbing her little lifeless body. This astonished me because I had never seen CPR performed on a dog.

Certain that I had lost this sweet female puppy I had waited for, my heart sank and my stomach turned. Then, a miracle happened. This puppy that had been lifeless only a minute or two ago, was suddenly breathing on her own! The breeder put her down next to her mother who began to clean her off. Tears streamed down my face and I realized that I needed to have more faith and all would be fine.

Today Faith is a healthy, sweet and spirited five-year-old who loves tennis balls, riding in the car, playing with our small children and taking naps. Faith has been and continues to be a blessing in my life!
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