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.”


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