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Tiny and Mighty: Stories of Small Dog Bravery

Tiny and Mighty: Stories of Small Dog Bravery

Dumpling’s Heroic Heart Surgery Journey

I’ll never forget the day my little chihuahua, Dumpling, was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition. It was July 2019, and our annual vet visit had taken a serious turn. The doctor detected a heart murmur that we’d somehow missed before, and the subsequent tests revealed Dumpling was in stage B2 of mitral valve disease.

My heart sank as I learned about the gravity of his prognosis. Dumpling’s left ventricle was already enlarged, and without intervention, he could slip into congestive heart failure at any moment. The vet immediately put him on two medications to try to manage the symptoms, but I knew we were running against the clock.

That’s when I discovered the Mighty Hearts Project, a community of pet owners whose dogs had undergone a pioneering heart valve repair surgery in Japan. I read story after story of tiny pups like Dumpling who had been given a new lease on life, all thanks to the innovative techniques of Dr. Masami Uechi. I knew in my heart that this was the path we needed to pursue.

Navigating the Road to Japan

The next several months were a whirlwind of preparations. First, Dumpling had to complete a 180-day quarantine period to meet Japan’s strict health requirements. Then came the challenge of securing a visa – as an American, I faced roadblock after roadblock trying to get clearance to enter the country for his surgery.

Just as we finally got the green light right before Thanksgiving 2020, new COVID-19 travel restrictions slammed the door shut again. I’ll never forget the crushing disappointment of having to postpone Dumpling’s lifesaving procedure. For the next two months, I kept pleading with the Japanese consulate, until they finally relented and granted me a visa right before Christmas.

A Harrowing Journey, A Triumphant Surgery

The trip to Japan was no easy feat. Even after we made it through the first round of hurdles, a new rule change forced me to quarantine separately from Dumpling upon arrival. I had to watch helplessly as my little guy was driven to the hospital alone, unsure if I’d even be allowed to see him before his surgery.

Miraculously, I was released early from quarantine, just in time to spend one precious day cuddling Dumpling before his big operation. On January 12, 2021, Dr. Uechi and his team at the Jasmine Cardiovascular Medical Center got to work repairing Dumpling’s damaged mitral valve. The surgery was a resounding success – they were able to reconstruct his leaky valve and give his heart a new lease on life.

Dumpling’s Road to Recovery

The next week was a nerve-wracking waiting game as Dumpling recovered in the ICU. I anxiously awaited updates from the Jasmine team, relieved to hear he was making steady progress despite some minor setbacks. Finally, on January 19th, the moment I’d been dreaming of arrived – I was reunited with my little warrior, battered but unbowed, ready to embark on the next stage of his journey.

Over the following months, Dumpling’s heart began to heal and regain its strength. Though the road to recovery was long and arduous, with lots of restrictions on his activity, my brave pup never lost his spirit. His 12th birthday in March was a joyous celebration, and by May, he was given the green light to start going on short walks again.

A Mighty Heart, A Mighty Spirit

As I look back on Dumpling’s harrowing ordeal, I’m in awe of his resilience and determination. This tiny chihuahua, who had once been given just months to live, has defied all odds and emerged as a true inspiration. His story is a testament to the power of modern veterinary science, the tireless efforts of the Jasmine team, and the unbreakable bond between a pet and their devoted owner.

Dumpling’s journey has also opened my eyes to the incredible bravery of so many small dogs. Whether facing life-threatening illnesses, natural disasters, or other extreme challenges, these pint-sized pups possess an inner strength that puts many of us humans to shame. They are the embodiment of the saying “good things come in small packages.”

If you ever doubt the might that can lie within a tiny frame, I urge you to seek out the stories of dogs like Dumpling. Their tales of survival and triumph will leave you in awe, and maybe even inspired to give a loving home to a small dog of your own. After all, as I Have Dogs knows, the biggest hearts often come in the smallest bodies.

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