University for Vetinary Studies, Perugia

One of my dogs had a seizure.  One minute he was at my side whilst I was watering the plants,  he just loves drinking water from the hosepipe, the next he collapsed and was on his back with his legs in the air in the grip of what seemed like and epileptic fit.  The fit lasted less than a minute and then he attempted to stand, and then staggered (like a wee drunk glaswegian as depicted by comedian Billy Connolly) to the side and lay there immobile.

It is at times like these that you need someone to be there with you.  I was understandably concerned and worried and after comforting Edo, for it was he, went in search of the telephone to call the vet.

I am real fortunate to have an excellent vetinarian here in Italy.  All my dogs came over with me from Scotland, yet they can converse freely with vets here in Italy, so off Edo and I drove to Ponte San Giovanni to get him checked over.

Edo has been a picky eater for some time and got on the thin side, I call him ‘bony boy’ in an attempt to encourage him to eat.  In sympathy for me, he too got a cough this morning, so the two of us spluttered off to the vet  where after a cursory examination it was decided to have an EcoCardioGram done.  This entailed a return visit (35km each direction) later in the day.

He was tremendously brave and co-operative as he had bits shaved, was placed sideways on a high table and had electrodes stuck to him, then the sensor with cold gel applied.  The vet checked his intestine and heart, and discovered a faulty valve and enlarged left ventrical.  A trip to the University for Vetinary Studies in Perugia to see a cardiological specialist was organised and soon we were back in the car in the heat on the way to University clutching the CD which had the data from the ECG.

A special pass got us through the barrier straight to admissions, it was rather like pronto soccorso or A&E at hospital.  After the usual bureaucratic form filling – why they need to know when and WHERE I was born always amazes me, what it has to do with a dog’s dicky heart I dunno…..  we were introduced to the cardiologist, and walked to his consulting room with the sound of horses whinnying in the background.

Having seen the CD contents the Vet explained that they do not yet do heart translpants for dogs, they can do electroshock treatment to regularise the heartbeat, but there are also some therapies that can significantly improve the heart and thus quality of life.  Lately Edo has been lethargic and as I said with little appetite, I had put that down to the heat.  Edo was again put on the table and had the probes attached, and the gell camera rolled over his chest.  Then blood tests, the vet could not find a vein in his leg, so the jugular was used.  Edo was so good, so brave, never moving a muscle, as if he knew better than me that these guys were there to help him get better.  After what seemed like endless probing we were  shown to the cloistered garden and offered a walk a chance for Edo to pee and pee he did, and for me to relax whilst we awaited the results.

One of the technicians came to find us and we went for the results.  Edo has a faulty valve, which menas some of the blood that passes through his heart escapes back the way, and that combined with the enlarged ventricle explains the lethargy, loss of appetite – not enough oxygen to enable him to eat much, and hence the weightloss.

He is back home resting, on a bunch of pills while we wait for the results of the blood tests.  Unlike Boxers and Dalmatians, Setters are not genetically prone to heart disease, and the vet wants to discover what has caused this malfunction, and hence treat it.  Edo will never run the marathon, but we are determined that he can at least walk the half-marathon.  Many thanks for the kindness and professionalism to all at the vets in Ponte San Giovanni and the University in Perugia.