I have had Piggy since she was 8 weeks old, she just turned 7 years old this past November. Piggy has always been a very healthy dog. She has the best disposition of any dog I have ever had the pleasure of befriending. She loves everyone and everything, there is not a mean bone in her body. When we found four 2 week-old kittens last summer Piggy took over mother duties immediately. She still tries to mother them even though they are all now at least as tall as she is. She tolerated the intense hugs and unpredictably active and loud activities of my grandchildren when they were very little toddlers that would scare any other dog. She is so active that she has never been overweight like my husbands dog (and they eat the same food).
She was my empty nest baby. After my children left home I felt so empty inside. I suffered from such a sad time that I cried almost daily. Then I read somewhere that you should get a dog (fur-baby) to fill that void. So I went on a search for just the right dog for me. When I found Piggy, with her little snorty baby sounds I immediately fell in love with her. When I held her in my arms and listened to the little snorty pig/baby sounds I knew this was the perfect dog to fill my empty nest. Even though she has grown up and is no longer a baby depending on me around the clock, she is still my baby. She still makes the snorty sounds that instantly bonded us. I love her as much as my own human children...and that is alot!
|Piggy 'sunning' in the RV window with one of the kittens. Our pets travel with us.|
So as I said, she has been healthy her entire life. The only emergency visit she has ever had was several years ago when she and an alpha-male Boston got into an altercation (which he started) and she lost her left eye. It was a gruesome mess but she handled it like a champion. We spent one very sleepless night cuddling and watching for excessive swelling from the eye socket that was filled with blood that we hoped would clot and be reabsorbed by her body...and it did. She was back to herself the next day and the vet said she was in perfect health when she returned 10 days later to have her stitches removed.
|Piggy napping with my grandson.|
Then yesterday, at our routine visit to the vet, the dr listened to her heart and said she has a Galloping Heart. I had never heard of such a thing. She let me listen to it for myself. It was the wildest thing. Instead of the lub-dub, lub-dub heart beat that you should normally hear, I heard what sounded like a horse galloping down the street. It was faster than her normal heart rhythm as well. What does this mean? We learned that the Galloping Heart Rhythm almost always indicates heart failure. My heart literally skipped a beat and I felt sick at this knowledge. Piggy is healthy, she is active, maybe not as much as she use to be but she is older now, mid-life like me. How could she be suffering from heart failure?
The vet suggested that I take her to an animal cardiologist to get a cardiac ultrasound. Galloping Heart is the sound your heart makes when the four heart valves are not in sync. Not being in sync means that the fresh oxygenated blood is not being pumped to where it is suppose to be...much like a car that has poor compression timing that runs really rough and has no power, then if it keeps getting worse until eventually the car will not run. (Mr Holly is a retired mechanic so I think about things in terms of cars alot.)
From what I have learned so far, there are three stages to this condition. Stage I is where we are at now, the heart becomes a galloping heart, which is usually not even know to the dog or her human parents unless it is discovered by accident like this routine exam. Stage II is when the dog begins to exhibit some physical symptoms from the mis-firing heart valves, such as lack of energy, mild coughing when trying to rest or play, lack of appetite, bluing skin/tongue, etc. Stage III is when it gets so bad that death occurs.
There is no cure. You can do several things to support the dog and perhaps prolong her life a little longer, but death is still the end result. In humans who develop this, they can sometimes get a heart transplant, but that is not an option for dogs. The progress from Stage I to Stage III can be as quick as a few days or months, to perhaps as long as a year or maybe two if it is found early and medications are started to support the heart.
I knew that I would outlive Piggy...but I expected with proper care she would live well into her mid to late teens. I am not ready to let her go. She does not deserve this. I cannot stop crying every time I look at her, or hear her snore while sleeping across the room. On Monday I call the cardiologist to schedule her ultrasound. I will do everything in my power to do what I can to make every day that she has left the very best day so far, while my heart is breaking at the thought of losing her in my life.
Please keep her in your Prayers and positive thoughts.