This boy was technically an X-men pup; however, he was the runt AND born with Swimmer's Legs so we thought it not appropriate to call him Professor X. He was strong, but tiny (hence, Napoleon.) He could not use his back legs, he just dragged them splayed out all day. We started doing physical therapy on him and hydrotherapy and it worked - he regained use of those lanky legs. We were doing our normal routine vetting when the vet heard a slight heart murmur and instructed us to watch it.
At his next appointment, it was made clear that he suffered from a heart deformity called Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). We had no clue what that was, but we fully understood the look our vet gave us - this wasn't going to be good news. Without a very expensive (~$5,000) surgery, he wouldn't make it to his 1st birthday. After a quick check of the Care Credit account, she got on the phone with Texas A&M University and got him an appointment with their cardiac team.
Dan made the first 8-hour round trip to College Station for the initial evaluation and to get the low-down on the procedure. The next trip required a weekend stay, so Joanna and a friend went and stayed in a hotel during the procedure just in case something went south. He had some complications afterwards that resulted in an extra days stay and some take home special instructions.
We got him back to HQ and he had to be on 3 months of kennel rest - outside for short walks, bathroom breaks, and that was it. We had to periodically count his breaths and report any issues. We also had diuretics on hand in case of fluid build up around his heart. Luckily, we did not have to use those.
During Napoleon's kennel confinement, we felt bad and started to give him toys for entertainment - bad idea. He ended up swallowing a whole Kong toy and we did not know until 3 days later when he refused food and started drooling. We rushed him to our local vet where they discovered he had a bowel intussusception and needed emergency surgery. We were all very nervous because of his heart. My vet looked at me and said he had never operated on a dog post-PDA surgery before because nobody usually pays to have that surgery. During the surgery, the vet had to remove roughly 9 inches of bowel that had rotted, but our boy pulled through again - but now we were playing the game of "watching for infection" (this kind of bowel surgery can go south so quickly if the bowel ruptures and they become septic). Once again, no news was good news.
After all he had been through and the potential for PDA to rear its ugly head somewhere down the road, we decided to make Napoleon a therapy dog and take him to hospitals so he can bring smiles to peoples faces as he does ours. We have already begun his initial training and look forward to getting him all certified and on the road to creating smiles!