Edith Wharton once said, “My little dog – a heartbeat at my feet.” And that took on a whole new meaning for me on #MSUMonday for #FinnsHeart
MSU is a 2-hour, 20-minute roundtrip drive. And, like the over planner I am, I overpacked. My mom just shook her head when I walked out of the house. My mom offered to make the trip with me, because it’s a long, emotional ride home if it’s bad news.
So I packed two large cups of Starbucks–one for me, one for my mom–my mobile office, (i.e., my laptop bag) stuffed with client work, supplies, and a couple magazines, because I had no idea how long I’d have to wait. And extra money. To treat my mom.
Finn had a bag too. Finn approved treats because of his food allergies. His leash, harness, travel water bowl, a blanket (that smells like me), and a few toys. You know, just incase they had to take him back there, somewhere, for a long time without me.
We made it on time no trouble. (Thanks GoogleMaps!) We checked in at the front desk. Found our waiting area and before we knew it, were in a room with a Sr. Student Resident trying to keep Finn calm so she could examine him.
She went through the standard questions my normal vet asks. “Any coughing, sneezing? Runny eyes? Shortness of breath?” And I of course rambled on like a scared parent who forgot her notes. Telling her about the time Finn shocked himself on an electrical cord. The jerky treats I gave him but shouldn’t have. His whole life history.
Finally, she listened to his heart. After all, that’s why we were really there. And she listened a long, long time. And then. She said, “his rhythm is normal. I don’t think we need to do an ECG. But rather just the Cardiogram. (The ultrasound for the heart).” She went on, “There is a clicking I hear. So we should check that out, but I don’t think it’s electrical.”
So, special treats in hand, I walked back with her to Cardiology. Finn wasn’t going to leave my side so It was just easier to walk him back and then leave. During the walk the Resident made sure to tell me that skipping the ECG would save me some money too. Which was nice, but honestly, it’s just money. If Finn needed it, I would have done it.
But this little gesture was important. Much like my own vet, I very much sensed it wasn’t about making money and doing needless tests just to do them. This facility at MSU was about care. And that small gesture put me at ease, that Finn was truly in good hands.
Mom and I got some quick snacks and hunkered down in the waiting area.
After not too long, I could hear Finn’s tags down the hall. It’s surprising how in a place with like a million dogs and cats my ears can pick out the sound of Finn’s collar tags.
Along with the awesome student resident, was Doggie Cardiologist, Dr. Sanders, and another student resident specializing in Cardiology. I should point out, both are male. Automatically I noticed that Finn wasn’t barking at them. A bit shy, yes. A bit playful even, sure. But not barking. Which is huge, because it usually takes him many, many meetings before he warms up to a new guy. Finn got it. These guys were here to help. Further telling me that whatever they said next could be trusted.
“I have some good news,” Dr. Sanders said. “Finn does have a leaky heart valve and thus heart disease. So that’s the bad news. It’s his tricuspid. Sometimes a little of the blood being pumped through flows backwards, and that’s the sound your vet heard. It’s actually like a click at the end of the beat.”
That’s not good news. I thought.
“However, the good news is it’s very, very tiny. Go home. Forget about it. Because the best thing you can do for him is keep him active, lean and trim, and healthy. He can even run a 10k if he wants to.”
And that’s when I started laughing. It was a really good laugh. Needed.
We talked more about what might have caused it, most likely he was born with it and the fill in vet during his first year check up missed it. What we need to do to keep an eye on it, to see if it progresses, and long term care if it gets worse.
We exchanged some jokes, talked about Finn’s diet, etc. And for nearly 10 minutes Dr. Sanders went on to give props to my vet, saying most wouldn’t have caught this until much later. And this early detection will make all the difference in Finn’s longterm care.
And then, after paying, we were on our way home.
We’re to do this again in a year and monitor for changes. No surgery or meds. Finn’s to just be a dog.
So for now, that furry heartbeat at my feet, the one filled with love and puppy kisses is still beating. And I am grateful for its love, warmth and comfort ever more so now.