Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

His Heart

I couldn't help sending this series of photographs off to Rebecca Malakoff, Atticus's cardiologist at Angell Animal Medical Center. We had an appointment with her a couple of weeks ago to check out his heart murmur and Rebecca gave him a thorough going over, including an echo- cardiogram and an electrocardiogram.

His heart murmur was first detected by Maureen Carroll at Angell while he was in for a check up of his thyroid four and a half years ago. She sent us down the hall to cardiologist Gregg Rapoport. It wasn't much to worry about, he said, after giving Atticus an exam. But he also told me to have him come back for regular check-ups. Gregg has since left Angell, headed for a teaching position down at the University of Georgia - Athens. That's how we came to see Rebecca Malakoff. She's a wonderful doctor. (Haven't met one yet at Angell that I haven't liked and thought to be very professional and good-hearted.)

Atticus is now nine and a half years old. With his getting older I was a bit concerned over what would be discovered at the recent appointment. However, the tests showed that there's very little change in his murmur. There is a bit more leakage from the valves than there was four years ago, but it's so little Dr. Malakoff is not concerned with it. Still we'll keep our eyes on it.

When I was going through my photos of Friday's hike along Franconia Ridge I thought of Atticus on that table a couple of weeks ago, with strips of hair shaved off of his chest so that Rebecca could perform the echocardiogram. Then I thought of the wires that were hooked up to him and how when he was laying on his side I sat where he could see me, held his head in my hands as he held my eyes with his. From time to time his little, pink tongue flicked out and licked my hand, looking for reassurance. It was the only sign that he was uncomfortable in the least bit.

I decided I'd send this series to her so she could see what his heart allows him to do because some times it fascinates even me. I mean the pumping heart, not the loving heart. I've always have known what the loving heart can do...and yet there are times that continues to fascinate me as well.


Lorilooo said...

I'm choked up and yet I smile. Thank you Tom for giving us these personal, loving updates on Atticus's life and health. I feel as though I am a passenger on his life's journey, tagging along and trying to keep up with him as he lives every day to the absolute fullest!


Ellen Snyder said...

What a good heart he has!

jess said...

I am a big fan of series shots, and I love these. Abby and I have been doing more swimming lately; long distance swims across Post Pond and in Reservoir Pond. When it's evening, Smarts Mountain looms over Reservoir Pond, with its double humps and's an amazing mountain, I hope you hike it with us someday!

Tom & Atticus said...

Thanks, ladies. It's good to know that his heart is still strong and there is nothing to worry about as he ages. More than just being happy for me, I'm happy he'll be able to continue doing everything he loves.

Anonymous said...

A dog's heart (loyalty) is amazing. Our Schnauzers would have gone through fire and ice for us.

Deborah Ross said...

Atticus is an inspiration to all of us. He is just a sweetheart. I would love to meet him someday and kiss his nose! My Schnauzer, Diamond, tolerates it when I do that do her! I just love Schnauzers