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


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