“He’s a hoot to live with. He has a better sense of humor than most people I know,” said Patricia Dean. She wasn’t talking about her spouse, best friend or sibling; Dean was describing her 13-year-old Dachshund, Luiggi. About three years ago, Luiggi became increasingly more lethargic and this, along with chronic back pain, sent Dean to consult with Dr. Carroll Loyer, an American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) Board-certified specialist in cardiology.
Dr. Loyer diagnosed Luiggi with sick sinus syndrome or a slow, irregular heartbeat. When medical therapy failed to improve his condition, Dr. Loyer elected to insert a pacemaker in the Dachshund. “The procedure is the same as with humans,” Loyer explained. “And we use outdated human pacemakers, which are given to us at a lower cost by the manufacturers. Almost immediately Luiggi’s energy level and attitude began to improve and he was back to entertaining his owner with his antics and enjoying more time outdoors.
Dean knows better than most the distress of someone with a serious physical injury or illness. She suffered a broken neck and was confined to a wheelchair before moving to crutches and to the cane she walks with now. Luiggi was there for her through her recovery. “One time one of my crutches fell on him, but he didn’t seem to mind.” So, it was natural that Dean would do everything she could for her canine pal when he needed serious medical attention.
“There are not many people I’d rather hang out with than this dog,” Dean said. “He’s a great friend.” Luiggi was one of five “pet survivors” featured at the recent American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum in Denver, Colo. Each of the survivors represented one of the specialty areas represented by ACVIM members.
Along with Luiggi, Dr. Mary Ann Crawford, ACVIM Diplomate, introduced four more survivors: Happy, a Wheaton Terrier owned by the McDuff family of Pueblo, Colo. who will be free from bone cancer for four years this October and Annie, a Cocker spaniel, with mammary carcinoma that spread to her lymph nodes. Both pets were treated by Dr. Phyllis Glawe, an ACVIM Board-certified specialist in Oncology.
Denali, a Golden Retriever, was diagnosed with tetanus, which started from a cut on her paw. Treatment failed to allow her to return to normal movement and eventually she was unable to move on her own at all. Dr. Laurie Pearce, an ACVIM Board-certified specialist in neurology treated Denali along with her owner, Cindy Boezio, who hand fed her, changed her bed regularly and turned Denali every four to six hours. Today, Denali can stand and move on her own.
Annie, a Schnauzer and her owner, Carol Derryberry, turned to Dr. Doug Santen an ACVIM Board-certified specialist in internal medicine when Annie began to lose weight with increased urination and water consumption. Santen diagnosed Annie with diabetes and she started insulin treatments. Then, earlier this year, Annie was stricken with pancreatitis. Through regular medication, Annie is now able to return to her regular routing of spending her days at the antique shop owned by her owner.
“These are just a few of the many stories of pet survivors all across the country,” Crawford said. “Most ACVIM Board-certified specialists have their own success stories of remarkable pet survivors.” ACVIM member specialists are listed on the organization’s web site, www.acvim.org.