Testimonials - Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in College Station, Texas Testimonials - Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital


For small animal appointments call (979) 845-2351 Monday - Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Emergencies accepted 24 hours a day



This is our precious girl, Maggie, at three months old and just before she died at 12 years old. There was never a more precious soul. From the moment she was born until the moment she left this earth, she was totally convinced that everyone loved her.

If anyone had ever said "bad dog" to her, she would have looked over her shoulder to see who we could possibly be talking about because she knew it couldn't be her.

We loved other dogs before her and other dogs since her, but Maggie was special. She took every step I took. If I got up from a chair to walk to the refrigerator, she would walk with me. If I closed the door to the refrigerator and walked to the stove, she would walk with me. She was my girl.

So, when Maggie went into congestive heart failure, I would have been willing to do anything to insure she had the very best care. That led us to A&M. Her happy life was extended by over a year thanks to the Cardiology staff's skill and commitment. Every one of those days meant so much to my husband and me.


But as I reflect on it now, I realize that in addition to the Pimobendan and the medical expertise, I appreciated everyone's compassion towards me. I've spent more than one afternoon sobbing in the halls at the Small Animal Clinic. Maggie's heart wasn't the only one that was broken and they seemed to know how to deal with that as well.

Thank you Sonya, Ashley, Matt, Risa, Kathy - everyone.

Linda Quick - Dallas, Texas



Abby was, and always will be, our "Little Princess." But, by the time she had left us, with the help of Drs. Sonya Gordon and Ashley Saunders, she had also become our "Steel Magnolia." When Abby's mitral valve disease first appeared, we did everything we knew to do, based on the advice of our own local veterinarians and veterinary specialists.

She received what most would consider exceptional care during the next several years, and she continued to live with joy - and flair. But, as she started to decline further, it was clear that part of the "spark" that was Abby had begun to fade. This happened gradually, and we viewed it as part of the inevitable progression of her mitral valve disease and process of aging. We were wrong - and almost disastrously so.

Fortunately, several of our friends also are owners of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and through them we had heard about Dr. Gordon's successes with Pimobendan. We contacted Dr. Gordon to set up an evaluation. Two days before our scheduled appointment with Dr. Gordon, Abby crashed. We rushed her to our veterinary clinic, where a new veterinarian who had never seen Abby listened compassionately to our story, examined Abby briefly, and immediately began to discuss euthanasia. When we protested that we had an appointment with Dr. Gordon in two days, she explained, with a pained look, that "this dog won't make it until then." But, being a recent graduate of the CVM, she knew of Dr. Gordon's work, so she agreed to work with us to stabilize Abby overnight, so that we could make a dash for College Station the next morning.

After what seemed to be the longest trip of our lives, we presented our failing princess to Dr. Ashley Saunders, whose gentle and calm demeanor gave us great comfort. Even though we still did not know if Abby would live through another day, we knew we had at least gotten her into the right hands.

Since we are both in the medical field, and have seen many human patients at the end-stage of congestive heart failure, as Abby was, we expected a long hospitalization - if we were that lucky. So, the next morning, when Dr. Saunders explained that they had uncovered a further complication in Abby's case - an abnormal cardiac rhythm that caused an elevated heart rate and would worsen her condition - we were even more astounded when she told us that we'd be taking Abby home that day. As Drs. Saunders and Gordon had explained, if the Pimobendan was going to work, it would work quickly. In Abby's case, it was nothing short of miraculous. Addition of carvedilol (Coreg) to the regimen helped to control Abby's heart rate and, within 48 hours of the spark almost being extinguished, when Dr. Saunders brought Abby out to us in the waiting room, the spark was back.

Over the next few weeks, as Abby regained some of the conditioning she had lost, we began to realize just how far she had declined before our trip to A&M. On the new drug regimen, it was as if she was young again. Her tail - and her nose - were again held high, she once again twirled in excitement at seeing one of us after an absence of any length, and she was again able to sleep in her favorite position, on her back. She played like she had not played in several years. And she assumed full control of our house. She became a poster child for the good work of the CVM.

Because of the care she received at the CVM, we had Abby for 20 more months - and these were 20 good months. She tried to crash again a couple of times, but Drs. Gordon and Saunders coached us through those and pulled her out of the fire each time. Though we had always thought of Abby as a sort of delicate flower, she proved to be tough as nails, and we began to refer to her as our "Steel Magnolia." Meanwhile, Abby enjoyed each and every day of her rejuvenated health and we relished each and every moment. When we finally lost her, we were, of course, devastated. But the blow was softened by the knowledge that Abby received the finest care possible - and we will be forever grateful.

Landis and Terri Griffeth



Bryce, a Labrador mix, is a modern medical marvel. Considered a young dog to receive a pacemaker, Bryce was implanted with the heart-regulating device in 2002 at the age of four, and in March of this year, Bryce's pacemaker battery was replaced.

In the majority of cases, pacemakers are implanted in older dogs who will not likely outlive the battery life.

Brin Graham, however, recognized a decline in Bryce's energy level and brought her in for a checkup. Graham thought Bryce was suffering from old age, but cardiologists discovered Bryce's pacemaker battery performance was declining as it slowly ran out. Rather than stop completely, pacemaker batteries-much like watches-deteriorate by performing at half-capacity, rather than stopping completely. An abnormal decrease in heart rate is a trigger that the battery needs to be replaced, Saunders said.

"We were throwing the ball in the street in front of the house and Bryce began to have what we thought were seizures," Graham said. "We called A&M and brought her in-we liked the idea of A&M being a teaching hospital. We knew the problem was something related to her pacemaker. In retrospect, my husband and I thought she was getting older, but that wasn't the case at all. As soon as her battery was replaced, she was back to normal and she's doing great."

While pacemaker operations are not uncommon, Bryce's experience proved the effectiveness and reliability of the pacemaker as a way to regulate heart rates despite the device running on a battery. Bryce's experience has brought the Graham family together and has been a way of reaching out to neighbors.

"Our neighbor brought their dog to TAMU for a heart-related surgery. It's comforting to find out someone you know has gone through the same experience with their dog," Graham said.

Excerpt written by Emily Baker for CVM Today.



Matteo came from a puppy mill, where he and four of his littermates were born with patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a common congenital heart defect in the Bichon Frise breed.

MatteoFunds were raised through Small Paws Rescue, a not for profit organization, to pay for the PDA surgeries. Matteo and his siblings are now living full lives in their forever homes. Matteo's proud mom, Vicky Nixon, said she would trust her babies in the great and capable hands of the cardiologists at Texas A&M. When asked what advice she would give to someone whose pet has a similar problem, Vicki responded, "Please do not wait if you believe or have been told that you're pet has a PDA, as time is of the essence! Let the cardiologists at Texas A&M help your pet and give them a long and happy life!"



Hulk's owner, Andrea Flinn, noticed he had breathing difficulty as a puppy. "We took him in for his first check up and our veterinarian gave Hulk a very grim prognosis," Flinn said. "They suggested we see a specialist so we sought Texas A&M because we wanted the best care available. We knew they had the technology

At Texas A&M, Hulk was diagnosed with pulmonic stenosis, a common congenital heart defect in Boxers. "After our first visit to Texas A&M, we felt at ease," Flinn said. "Not only were the doctors able to explain to us Hulk's problem in detail, we were able to get words of optimism for Hulk's future. Our experience at Texas A&M has been rewarding. We have been educated by the doctors about Hulk's condition and we have received excellent care. We were given hope and the promise of being able to treat the disease."

Midori & Stormy


Midori charmed her way into my life at a year old. She entered my life at full speed - and left this world - enjoying life all the way. Her affectionate nickname was Me-Me .... as in me me first at everything. So maybe it was kismet that I ended up with Midori and her half brother Stormy down at Texas A&M for heart workups as both Cavaliers had gone into CHF within 2 weeks of each other. I remember the feeling of utter fear when Dr. Sonya Gordon felt that upon examination that both dogs would benefit from Pimobendan. The fear being that both dogs were not at the stage the other dogs they had tried on Pimobendan were - but that the feeling was their quality of life would change dramatically for the better. I agreed to put them on the Pimobendan. Can I say I have NEVER regretted my decision. Within 36 hours I had PUPPIES again. What I had written off as dogs getting older - was really their hearts slowing young bodies down. Stormy was 10 at the time and Midori almost 10 when both were first started on Pimobendan.

StormyPimobendan gave me happy dogs again ..... you can see Midori's picture above after 2 years on Pimobendan ... she was still going strong and most importantly loving life. I encourage everyone I know to seek information on pimobendan - I use both of my "kids" as poster children for "life after heart failure". Both Midori and Stormy are gone now but both were given YEARS of running, playing, chasing puppies, and more importantly giving and receiving lots of love. I am thankful everyday for the chance/life/hope these guys were given by the "miracle drug" Pimobendan and the great care they received by the staff at Texas A&M led by Dr Sonya Gordon and Kathy Glaze ... this winning combination truly gave my guys "life".

Barb Hoorman



We found out when our sweet Duce was only 16 months old (October 2007) that he had DCM. From an x-ray our veterinarian made, he said we needed help because of Duce's enlarged heart.

We live in Arkansas and when we started looking for a cardiologist, we found that cardiologists for animals were basically only available in cities where there are colleges of veterinarian medicine. With the help of God, we were able to discover that Dr. Ashley B. Saunders travels each month for a couple of days and to see patients in the Animal Diagnostic Clinic in Dallas, Texas.

DuceWe were able to get to her within the next month. She said Duce had only about 10% heart function and she was amazed he was not having any more problems than he was. She started him on taurine (his blood level was low normal) and on Vetmedin (Pimobendan) immediately. Duce soon became very energetic and we could just tell he was doing better. Duce first improved and then remained stable for over two years before starting to have problems. He was a very happy dog and was able to live quite normally until the last few months of his life. Dr. Ashley Saunders helped Duce have over two more good happy years of life and allowed us to have so many sweet memories of him that we would have never had. We want to thank Dr. Saunders for everything she did for Duce and our family and for being so available to us.

Rebecca and Jillian Stroud



Bella is a 3-month old French Bulldog who recently visited the Cardiology Service. Bella's referring veterinarian thankfully noticed a heart murmur in the sweet puppy when she was just a few weeks old.

Bella was then diagnosed with pulmonary stenosis (PS), which is characterized by a narrowing of the valve that regulates blood flow from the right side of the heart to the lungs. In Bella's case, like in most PS cases of puppies, there were no signs or symptoms of the problem, until the murmur was found. Unfortunately, if the disease goes untreated the dog would eventually begin to suffer from life-threatening arrhythmias. PS would cause the right side of the heart to begin to fail due to its increased workload, and blood would begin to backup in the vasculature, resulting in conditions such as fluid in the abdomen, chest, and tissues. "If we hadn't come to A&M, Bella would have eventually died, and she seems like such a healthy puppy," says her owner of Waco, TX.

To correct Bella's PS, she underwent a procedure called a balloon valvuloplasty. A small incision was made into her right jugular vein where a special catheter was inserted and advanced to the heart. The catheter has a small balloon around the outside that is inflated by pumping fluid into it using a syringe. As the balloon expands and forces the valve open, it creates a larger hole for blood to pass through and reduces the amount of work the right side of the heart must do in order to pump Bella's blood.

Thankfully this procedure is a permanent fix to the condition, and Bella will presumably go on to lead a healthy life. Bella's family was "so nervous, the stress was so high," until they saw Bella after her procedure acting like a perfectly happy puppy. "It was a miracle that this was caught so early, and I can already tell she's more energetic," says her owner. Bella's family plans to enroll her in agility exercise classes and say that Bella "may go from dying one day to athlete the next!" They give special thanks to Dr. Randolph Winter and his Cardiology team for their help and communication on Bella's case. We hear that Bella won a "Cutest Patient of the Day" award in our Cardiology Service, and we have no doubt of her winnings.

Kelly Jo Eblen


CharityOne day last summer, a skinny stray wandered through the automatic doors at the Lubbock Meals on Wheels office and sat down in the middle of the floor. She was dirty, malnourished and covered with ticks. But she had no fear and no aggression. She only wanted a pat on the head, and a little help.

The staff circulated an email around town asking for an overnight home for this sweet girl, and soon she was taken in to the foster system of the Humane Society of West Texas. A screening by a local veterinarian showed she was in overall good health with no disease from the tick bites or damage from her efforts to survive on the street. She did, however, have a very loud heart murmur that was undiagnosable with basic equipment. The Humane Society reached out for donations and was soon able to provide her with the funds for proper screening at TAMU Teaching Hospital. The results were detection of a severe pulmonic stenosis that needed surgery quickly. Without it, she would likely survive only another year or two. Before long, efforts to raise funds for her surgery reached the local news outlets. Her sweet demeanor and gentle spirit was easy to see on camera during her interviews. She was polite, funny, and shown to have a love of chew toys and other dogs. All of a sudden, this abandoned stray who was probably neglected most of her life had the attention of a lot of concerned citizens! It took less than a week for the funds to come in that she needed! Now, after a very successful balloon valvuloplasty surgery, her heart has normalized to a functional level. She's on her way to a long and happy life. Charity's heart may have been broken, but it has always been made of gold! Her loving spirit seems to continually triumph over all that she's been through. Thank you so much for giving Charity, our Humane Society foster dog, such wonderful care!



Herbie and Dr. VittOur eight year old yellow lab, Herbie, means the world to us.  Herbie serves as a therapy dog for elementary students and has a special way of making those around him feel special and loved.  Herbie was diagnosed with a heart condition at two years old and that was his first visit to the cardiac clinic at A&M.  His condition was managed for the past few years, but recently, we discovered that his condition had significantly progressed.  He was in desperate need of a balloon procedure to open his heart valve.  Dr. Vitt took the time to thoroughly explain the procedure and make us feel comfortable about what would happen.  He was very patient with us and answered all our questions.  We are so thankful to everyone at the clinic for their loving care of Herbie, especially the vet students who kept us apprised of how Herbie was doing while he was away from us.  We are happy to report that Herbie is doing well since the procedure and we are delighted that this second chance for our amazing dog has been provided by the wonderful staff at A&M.  We are forever grateful for what you have done for Herbie.  Thank you!