Simon, Garfunkel, Chumbley and George were all rescue dogs who, between them, made nearly five hundred therapy visits during their lifetimes. Now a little spaniel named Hank will be taking on the job. “Hank is less than half the size of my previous dogs,” says owner Karen Osband, “and he has some big paws to fill, but I’m confident he will do it beautifully, and hopefully for a long time, thanks to the wonderful care he received at OSU.”

Osband met Hank when he was just five weeks old and fell in love with him. Soon after, he was diagnosed with a Grade 4 heart murmur, a sign of congenital heart disease. Osband decided to adopt him anyway. As a new resident of Oregon, Osband hunted for a veterinarian who could treat Hank’s condition. Several told her to wait and see if he survived six months, but Dr. Ashley Robinson, at VCA in Eugene, did an ultrasound of his heart, found a valve defect and referred Osband to the Cardiology Service at OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

At OSU, veterinary cardiologist Dr. Kate Scollon diagnosed Hank’s problem as pulmonic stenosis, a condition where the heart valve is thickened or partially fused together, obstructing blood flow from the heart to the lungs. She sees many dogs with this condition and was confident she could help Hank, but he needed one more month to get bigger.

In February 2017, the OSU cardiology team performed a balloon valvuloplasty, where a special catheter was inserted into the defective valve in Hank’s heart and a balloon was inflated, enlarging the restricted space. “The results were positive almost immediately after the surgery, including a greatly reduced heart murmur,” says Osband. It was a terrific Valentine present.

Hank is feeling good and in the process of learning how to pay forward the gift of health he received. “All of my dogs have been registered/licensed therapy dogs, and Hank is being trained to follow in their footsteps,” says Osband. “I am expecting him to provide comfort and put a smile on many peoples’ faces in the years to come . . . in nursing homes, retirement centers, and hospitals. For now, I can say with total honesty that he is doing those things for me, and I’m willing to share him wherever he will be welcome.”


Sheep MilesGenerally speaking, sheep do not make great pets. They tend to be afraid of humans and have a strong flock instinct so you have to keep several together.

There are exceptions; some breeds, when bottle fed by a human from the time they are babies, come to think of themselves as small, wooly people.  One example is a miniature breed know as a Babydoll.

Stormie deCarlo had wanted to raise sheep for a long time, but had to wait until her husband retired from the military. Finally, three years ago, she got two Babydoll Southdown lambs for her birthday. She named them Miles and Jack. “When I was a girl in New Mexico,” says diCarlo, “I was in 4-H, and when my sheep didn’t make weight, my Dad put him in the freezer. I always wanted another one I could have to keep.”

The sheep joined a backyard family of three dogs, two cats and two rabbits. The whole menagerie gets along well, in fact, one of the dogs, a hound-mix named Lilly, likes to lick Miles’ ears. “Miles doesn’t mind, but when he has had enough, he butts her with his head.”

Last fall Jack became very ill and died of copper poisoning. Sheep owners beware: Copper is very toxic to sheep and can be found in some animal feeds. Also, the symptoms of copper poisoning often don’t appear until the sheep is already very sick.

Soon after Jack died, deCarlo lost her dog to brain cancer, so when Miles quit eating, deCarlo called her veterinarian right away. Dr. Moore referred her to the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital at OSU. “It was heart breaking to lose Jack, then Lolita,” says deCarlo, “so I was going to fight to save Miles.”

At OSU, Dr. John Schlipf and Dr. Sarah Schale ran tests and found Miles to have increased pulse and respiratory rates, decreased red blood cell count, and blood analyses consistent with kidney damage: all signs of copper poisoning. They treated him with intravenous fluids, but when his anemia and kidney tests worsened, they gave him a whole blood transfusion. They also put him on diuretics to increase blood flow to the kidneys and increase urine production to flush out the copper and broken down red blood cells.

When Miles was still not eating, Clementine, a cow in the OSU teaching herd, stepped up to help. She is a fistulated cow who has a portal in her side to access her rumen (the largest of her four stomachs). Through this portal, the doctors obtained rumen fluid and fed it to Miles. Rumen fluid is full of beneficial microbes and nutrients that are good for sick animals. In the past, Clementine has donated to goats and other cows also.

After several days of intensive treatment, Miles’ kidneys improved and he began eating normally. He is still anemic but that should improve with time. He may have some permanent kidney damage but is back home and doing fine.

The long stay in the hospital with lots of TLC from students, technicians and doctors gave Miles a taste for attention. “He stays on the back deck and gazes through the sliding doors,” says deCarlo.

“We are so grateful the hospital saved him,” she says. “They worked so hard and were so very kind.”