December 11, 2004


Jesse, our 9-yr-old English Bull Terrier, had a heart attack this morning.

We were getting ready to go for a walk, and he was all excited and playful. We ran around the house a bit and he was having a great time scurrying like a much younger bull terrier and then all of a sudden when we got to the family room, he put his front paws out full stretch like he was slamming on the brakes, his head went up in a grimace, and he went perfectly and unnaturally stiff, and then he literally tipped right over on his left side, legs outright and stiff, as if a slight breeze had knocked him right over. His eyes went up and he was out cold.

We were right there when it happened. We knelt down to see if he was still alive. He was still breathing, and his heart was beating furiously. In a few minutes he started breathing more normally, and he acknowledged our concern by managing to work up the strength to give us one thump of his tail. A few minutes later he managed to make another thump with his tail. Ten minutes, and he was up, a quick wiggly shake as dogs are wont to do, and he climbed up into his couch.

We took him to the vet where he spent the whole day.

Tonight, he's home, frisky and enthusiastic as ever.

However, he is a very sick dog, we've now learned, and probably doesn't have many more months to live. The vet showed me four X-rays of Jesse and basically, his heart is twice its normal size, and he has pulmonary edemas, and his liver is 1.5x normal size due to poor blood flow into the heart. Basically, the pump's broken, and it has been growing to try to compensate for leaky valves.

The vet said yes, basically, Jesse had a heart attack today.

Vet: "Basically, if Jesse were human, he'd be a candidate for a heart transplant."

Also: "Face it, Jesse's a 1995 model, and male bull terriers live about ten years..."

If Jesse were healthy, his heart rate would be 120 beats/min; the EKGs showed abnormalities and rates between 160 and 180+.

But, he's home now and seems ok for now. It's remarkable if you think about it, twelve hours ago he was out cold on the family room floor, and as we knelt beside him, we feared for the worst.

"Ok, I might have had a heart attack this morning, and I might've spent the whole day in the pet hospital, but I am home now and I am a hungry dog, and like, where's dinner?" (Photo taken last night after we got Jesse home from the vet -- moments after this photo was taken, he devoured his new prescription dog food).

Now he's settled for the evening on his couch, as if it was just another typical day. He's one tough dog.

The vet also said that his heart problems explain pretty much everything: the dog's inability to go for even short walks anymore, plus his frequent discomfort when lying down on his couch in the evening. His pump just can't handle any exertion anymore.

I hope Jesse lives to his 10th birthday (April 19).

He has to go on a salt-free diet, a bunch of new prescriptions for his heart, and back to the vet's this Wednesday for an ultrasound, and then for an appointment with a heart-specialist vet who has had a lot of luck with some sort of experimental Canadian heart drug (not even on the market yet in the US) which apparently is able to reduce the size of the heart and relieve some of the problems.

Fingers crossed...

Posted by brian at December 11, 2004 08:05 PM


Best of luck to you & Jesse.

Posted by: SB at December 11, 2004 09:43 PM

That's so sad. Best wishes, and take good care of the little guy.

Posted by: Paul at December 12, 2004 03:00 AM

Good wishes to Jesse. He looks like a sweetie!

Posted by: Brandon at December 13, 2004 09:33 AM

I hope you have a lot of good time left. What a handsome dog Jesse is!

Posted by: Gina at December 13, 2004 10:02 AM

Being a fellow dog lover and owner ...I can feel your pain. You story really hit home

This hasnít been a good year for dogs. My best friend just lost his 2 year old Bull Terrier in a bizarre Doritos accident. We found him on the kitchen floor with a Doritos bag stuck on his head. The Vet said he had all the signs of chocking to death. I've never seen 5 grown tattooed men cry so much over a fuzzy little thing.

My two wolves are already 10 years old and one was just diagnosed with cancer. I spent all day Saturday at the vet. Since they are litter mates, I know if I loose one that I pretty much loose both of them. I cherished every day I get to spend with them.

I hope you get a couple more years with him.

Posted by: levin at December 13, 2004 10:05 AM

I am sorry that Jesse isn't well. Best of luck with
the appointments in the coming weeks... Me and my puppy will be thinking about him.

He is a beautiful dog...

Posted by: susie at December 14, 2004 02:22 PM

Jesse is a beautiful (sorry Jesse, I mean handsome) bull terrier and I know he is the apple of your eye. His aunt Barb and cousins Lady and Napolean send our warmest wishes and will keep him in our doggie prayers.

Posted by: Barb at December 14, 2004 02:30 PM

Opie and all of us are very sad to hear about Jesse. He has a great family, though.

Posted by: Steve at December 17, 2004 06:39 PM

We have a Bull Terrier too and it must be horrible experiencing what you guys went through. Hope all is well and Jesse lives to 12!!!!

Posted by: Charlie at February 20, 2005 04:55 PM

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