Stella's got such a big heart, it seems she never manages to fill it. While all the other dogs at the dog park are running amok playing at being dogs, Stella goes from owner to owner, sidles up to them, asking for the touch of a hand on her back or fingers to scratch her ears. And if the person is face to face, Stella will look them in the eyes and give a kiss and if the person is not careful, that kiss becomes something a little too personal for most, landing well inside the mouth. Stolen kisses are her specialty.
That's not to say Stella loves everyone. She always been wary of a stranger's hand reaching out and she can be quite a monster around vets. At least until Sunnday night. Sunday night, the vet told me, she was apparently no trouble at all.
Wonders never cease, I thought, as we were checking out of the emergency clinic. Then, just as we were walking to the door, Stella teetered and stumbled and fell and she could barely get back up. A technician came over and we took Stella back into an examination room and the cardiologist came in. It amazed me then when Stella just stood there, allowing the vet to examine her, to poke and prod and clip sensors onto her, as though she'd been okay with this all her life.
And there I could see on the graph, Stella's big heart pounding away, wild and unconstrained and wanting to burst out of its cage, this sudden tachycardia probably caused by the thought of going home.
I'm told dilated cardiomyopathy and associated congestive heart failure are congenital. They occur in a lot of the bigger breeds. The heart muscles weaken, the heart expands and expands and eventually fails. Sometimes the failure is catastrophic if arrhythmia is involved. Sometimes it is a slow decline as the heart supporting drugs stop being effective. The vet says eight months on average is what to expect after DCM is diagnosed. That would give us the summer and most of the fall.
This will be her summer then. As her heart gets bigger, it will be filled with sun and breeze and warmth and love.
One day Stella's heart will become so big, it will lift her up and carry her away.