Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stella's big heart

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.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope it's a wonderful summer for you and Stella. Thank you for posting.

James

Jenn said...

I'm so sorry for this diagnosis.

This time last year we faced a similarly distressing diagnosis at the emergency vet and were told our boy had 6 months on average to live (he had hemangiosarcoma). We took him home and vowed to have the best summer possible. And we did - he swam in the lake, he ate ice cream and he completed every task on the bucket list we put together for him. When he finally left us 7 months after diagnosis, we were left with both the memory of him and his happy summer. I wish for you the same.

Sabrina said...

Wow. I don't know what to say. I hope you treasure your time left with Stella. It's sad how all dog stories end the same way. God bless.

Ian said...

This is sad for you but beautifully written.Stella sure found the right owner.May Stella enjoy life to the fullest for how ever long that may be.None of us know when our own hearts may stop but that`s the great thing about animals,they just live and love and they don`t worry about the future,they leave that up to us.

Lil'Mac said...

Fred, I am so very sorry to hear about this. What a beautiful girl she is. It is impossible to see her photograph and not fall instantly in love. It is so touching to see the bond you share with her and the incredible life she has. I wish you and her all the best, as you shower each other with love and warmth for the rest of her days.

Marcie said...

I'm so sorry Fred. Who ever would of thought a 8 month old puppy left at a kennel would of turned into such an important member of your family. You 2 were meant for each other, her heart is already filled with so much love & so is yours. I have no doubt this will be the best summer of her wonderful life.

House of the Discarded said...

My heart is breaking with yours. Kiss Stella for me. :(

I'm hoping that somebody posts that their dog is still doing well 5 years after their diagnosis.

selkie said...

oh Fred, I am so sorry.... how heartbreaking indeed. Your Stella - may this summer bring happiness and acceptance to both of you.

Miz Minka said...

Oh, I'm so terribly sorry, Fred. My heart goes out to you! May you enjoy these last too few months with sweet Stella; may they be beautiful and memorable!

Dee said...

Dogs can go quiet sometime with CHF. Stella will open her big heart to all the extra lovin' you feel to give her in her limited time.

Diagnoses are sad but at least they let you know what you're dealing with. Many of my manrats have left me without me knowing exactly what it was I was treating.

Anonymous said...

Sending hugs your way Stella and Fred.

Susan

Rachelle said...

"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."

Geez Fred, you've gone and done it again... I'm in tears!

Hope someone gives her all the love she can handle for the rest of her shortened life...

Toronto Unleashed said...

There is knowing in an abstract sense and knowing in a finite sense - neither is easy to dwell on. I wish you and Stella a wonderful summer together with many happy shared moments.

Shannon said...

My heart goes out to you Fred and to Stella. Stay happy and comfortable and enjoy the time you have left together.

deakat said...

I'm so very sorry to hear this, Fred.

Yet, I hope that I get a warning such as this when my Summer's time with me is nearing its end, so that I can be sure to make our last days together as full of joy as I possibly can.

borderjack said...

xo to Stella. She's beautiful. our best is with you as make this her summer.

Cathrine said...

Ah, Fred, I am so sorry! I hope the drugs stabilise her, and the three of you have a wonderful, gentle summer full of all the good things.....

Erin said...

Oh Fred, count me amongst those who are crying. I am so sorry for both you and Stella. I wish you a summer full of love and very personal dog kisses.

Anonymous said...

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."

I'm so sorry, Fred...no one knows how much time they've got. You have a chance few get, an inkling of the time you have with Stella. May you and Stella dance and love and sing and live to the fullest in this loveliest of summers.

susan said...

This is sad news. I'm really sorry for your eventual loss but glad you have some time to prepare for it and enjoy each other's company.

Laura HP said...

Fred, I'm so sorry to hear about the diagnosis! On the other hand, it's sort of a blessing that you know you have the summer, and so you can make it a special summer for the two of you. I'm sure Stella will be filled with love when her time comes, and that will be all thanks to you.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now...some posts have made me angry (mostly the ones about THS)...some have made me laugh...some have made me cry (like this one)...but my favourites have always been the ones featuring Stella & Rocky's adventures (or should I say misadventures). My own dog passed away 16 months ago and I've been putting off getting another one, so I guess I've been getting my dog fix vicariously through them.
My dog was also "a monster at the vets". When we brought him to the emerg. clinic (for what turned out to be the last time), I was amazed at how he calmly walked through the door to the exam room with the vet tech (without me having to push him through it). He just seemed to know something was happening beyond his control and he accepted it.
I look at Stella's picture and her beautiful, wise, trusting, loving eyes and she is a dog who knows that something is happening and I also know she will try to make this time as special & wonderful for you as you are planning to make it for her.
May the "Summer of Stella" begin!

Deebo said...

This broke my heart to read and left me in tears. I hope medication stabilizes her, and that you two do have the best summer together.

Laura HP said...

Fred, I'm so sorry to hear about the diagnosis..On the other hand, it could be a blessing that you know you have this summer, and you can make the best of it. I hope you share a wonderful summer together...Stella will be full of love when her time comes, and that's all thanks to you.

Rachelle said...

I feel like such a loser, I didn't realize this was your dog!! So sorry Fred; that must have been devastating news :(
Enjoy all life has to offer with that sweet soul...

K said...

Oh, Fred, I am so sorry. May this summer be filled with happiness and great memories.

Anonymous said...

Fred,

I'm so sad to read this about Stella. She is such a beautiful girl and a lucky one too because she found a family with you.

May you, your SO, Stella and Rocky have the very best summer ahead of you.

And when Stella's heart does get too big may her passing be painless and peaceful surrounded by those who love her.
Reaching for my tissue.
G & C

Amy said...

I am so sorry to hear about Stella's diagnosis. She is a beautiful dog and its obvious how loved she is. I hope that you and Stella have a wonderful summer together, filled with all the things that she loves most. I will keep you and Stella in my thoughts and prayers.

Falen said...

i'm sorry to hear the diagnosis.
This was a touching post and i'm sure the time you two have left together will be filled with love and joy.
And really, isn't that all we could ever want?

Anonymous said...

OH FRED!I am truly sadden and in tears for you and your beloved Stella. I really do hope that all these well wishes for a wonderful summer will be extended indefinitely!I have two adopted dogs, and they came from TAS,(thanks to you and your wonderful pics). I really do think that you do a GREAT service to all your fellow animal lovers and I sincerely hope that you and Stella will enjoy life to the fullest!

Harlem and Coltrane + Mom!

redstarcafe said...

Let this summer and fall be good to you and Stella. Take the time to give her her best days ever. Hugs to Rocky too.

Anonymous said...

Fred, may you and Stella continue to enjoy the abundance of love you already share and may this serve to draw you even closer. Both of our adopted dogs were met with grave diagnoses since we adopted them more than four years ago. They were some of the most difficult yet rewarding experiences we've shared. Fortunately with excellent medical care both overcame their illnesses while our bonds grew ever deeper.

This is beautifully written, we've linked it to share with others. We thank both you and Stella and wish you many more bright days and frolic ahead.

hopy said...

Beautiful, beautiful Stella. Give her my love, too.

Sheryl said...

To the Summer of Stella. May it be brilliant, beautiful and leave you full of treasured memories.

Jenna said...

Sorry to hear this Fred. I always hope the summer lasts forever, this makes that hope especially true.

Fred said...

Thanks so much for all your well wishes. Stella's doing good right now. She was sunning herself at lunchtime while watching Rocky eat dirt.

momo said...

oh Fred..so sorry to hear this. I hope Simba and I get to see you both at the park one of these days...we're leaving the neighbourhood actually at the end of May - but will come by on weekends to see the "gang".

take care.

melissa

Vida said...

I am very sorry to read this even though it is beautifully written as always. I am sure that tears from halfway around the world don't help you or Stella, but they have been shed anyway. I can do no more than what others have done here: here's wishing you, Stella and Rocky a wonderful summer and Fall together.

Heather B said...

I`m sending you and Stella a cyber hug as I type through my tears.
I understand how you feel and I know where your own heart is. Dog people know.
God love you both until Stella floats to heaven on her angel wings .
Please know we are all here for you, Fred.

Anonymous said...

Fred she will enjoy her time with you, You know I just went thur the same thing in Jan, with oliver, So my tears well up again, this time for you, enjoy every moment.

sandy

calyxia said...

I am so sorry to hear about the diagnosis, Fred. I know that you will give Stella all the love she could ever hope for and she will give you all that is her.

Gina said...

This leaves me broken hearted but glad as, if it had to happen I think we readers of your blog know Stella is in the very best of hands.
I happen to make Valentines -all of which have hearts on them. I would like to send one Stella's way-with best wishes from Nicki & Sandi too. Is there a way I can do this?
Thanks( and my very best, if heart broken, wishes)
Gina

Fred said...

Gina, that is so thoughtful of you. We would be honoured. Send me an e-mail - address under "my profile" - and I'll pass along my contact info.

FrogDogz said...

Dear Stella --

I hope this is indeed the best summer of your life. The truly great dogs always leave us far too soon, no matter how long they are here for.

You'll leave a huge hole in the world when you go.

Lynn said...

I wanted to write something, but I couldn't figure out what to say. Sometimes I comfort myself by believing that our pets don't see the world like we do. I don't think they have regrets or think about past and present--good times and bad. I think they just live. So I suspect we are the sad ones. I don't think Stella is worried and sad. If her heart hurts, her heart just hurts. If the sun is warm, the sun is warm. If Rocky eats dirt clods, Rocky is eating dirt clods. I think she's OK. Now we just have to learn to be too.

Lynda said...

Oh, Fred - I am just so sad for you and Stella. I know how much she means to you and I do hope you both have a wonderful summer.

Thinking of you.....

Lynda