Upon assuming ownership of my current practice 3 years ago, I would have loved to immediately hire Dr. Mengering, (the doctor I purchased from), but with the financial uncertainty of a change of ownership, I feared that it would not end up financially feasible. As such, I ran the practice without the services of Dr. Mengering my first year (thankfully, this has changed and she is now a part time associate), which did not sit well with some of her regular clients, none less than a senior aged owner of a chubby little chihuahua named Bubbles.
I first met Bubbles one week after after I had taken over in December of 2004. Bubbles owner was rather blunt about her displeasure that she could no longer have her beloved Bubbles seen by her trusted veterinarian of many years, instead having to trust her dog’s life with the likes of me, a 30 year old vet who was only 3 years out of vet school. I did not take it personally not only because I could understand her point of view, but also because of Bubbles medical history.
Upon thumbing through her record, I saw that Bubbles has battled and survived repeated bouts of life threatening pancreatitis, that were later finally determined to have been precipitated by and endocrine disease known as Cushings Disease. Once the treatment for Cushings was in place, her pancreatitis had stopped returning and her health was in a delicate, but effectively managed state. Having had such an extensive medical history, I could completely see why Bubbles owner had some apprehension about starting with a new vet, a young one at that.
Within a fairly short time, however, Bubbles owner began to trust me, and we gradually developed a very nice professional relationship. In fact, she was quickly becoming one of my most beloved clients, and I just adored little Bubbles. Even after Dr. Mengering’s return, she comfortable to see whichever one of us was available, not hold out to be seen only on Dr. Mengering’s days, as some of her regulars chose (and still choose) to do.
In year 2 of managing Bubbles health, she suddenly became very ill one day. Blood work revealed that the medication that was managing her Cushings Disease was causing her kidneys to shut down, creating the need to both hospitalize her and stop the Cushings medication. Aggressive treatment was successful and Bubbles was discharged in a few days, but I could no longer treat her Cushings disease for risk of harming her kidneys.
Over time her Cushings Disease began to take its toll on her body, and she had yet another bout of pancreatitis. We were once again able to stabilize Bubbles, and thankfully a new cutting edge Cushings Disease treatment with virtually no adverse side effects had come available, so we now once again manage her Cushings Disease.
In the next 2 years, while Bubbles’ Cushings Disease has remained under control, I have had to treat Bubbles for upper GI ulcer, herniated disc in her neck, anal sacs abscesses, tooth root abscess, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and in every instance, she has recovered. During this heights of her illnesses, she remained sweet, affectionate, and never once resented any blood draws, catheters, or any other procedures we had to implement in her diagnostics and treatments. Her daily medication regimen was a long as a grocery list.
In my most recent visit with Bubbles, her COPD has led to secondary enlargement of her heart and the subsequent development of congestive heart disease, and once again, she had bounce back from the abyss and is doing well on yet more treatment. This little dog’s courage and will to live, as well as her mother’s dedication, has touched my heart in an unforgettable way. Now 12 years old and juggling so many health issues, I know that the day will come that we will lose the battle. While that will be one of the most difficult days of my career, I will always be grateful for having had the honor of taking care of Bubbles and her wonderful Mommy.
Roger L. Welton, DVM