Sam - The Wired Spaniel
by Wayne Bleazard, Executive Field Rep
Sam, a field trial English Springer Spaniel, was born June 17, 2004. His given name is Samual of Wild Flush chosen by his owner, Diane Christensen. At 8 months old he began his training to become a field trial dog, and at age 18 months he started competing in field trials. In 2006 he was high point puppy for the Western Interclub and 2nd in the United States.
Sam continued to run in field trials in 2007 and 2008, winning 1 open. He was also entered in the Springer Spaniel hunting tests. Since he was already running field trials, he started at the Master Level in hunting tests. Gradually he experienced more and more difficulty in completing the series. It appeared that he was out of condition and would run out of energy part way through the course.
Diane took Sam to the vet on several occasions but nothing out of the ordinary was found. It was thought to be diet and allergies so Sam was placed on a grain free diet. In April of 2008 Diane injured her leg and was laid up for two weeks so Sam took a short vacation.
After their short hiatus, training began again in earnest. Now Sam was unable to run fast or sustain any effort even for a short period of time. So, they were off to yet another vet. The results from these tests revealed that he had bradycardia (a slow heartbeat). The veterinarian explained that this condition could either be caused by a Thyroid deficiency or some mechanical problem with the heart itself.
The thyroid test results were returned as normal which lead the vet to a telephone consultation with a cardiovascular specialist at the University Of California, Davis Veterinary School. It was recommended that Sam be taken to the small animal vet clinic at the University.
Upon entering the clinic the cardiology specialist was extremely surprised because Sam had little problems moving and didn't seem to be in any distress. If it hadn't been for the echocardiogram they took, Sam would have continued to go undiagnosed. The EKG showed Sam had a 3rd degree blockage, which is a complete blockage. Sam had no electrical impulses going from the upper chamber of the heart to the bottom chamber. When this happens, the heart has a back-up system where the lower chamber beats about 40 times per minute if there is no signal from the upper chamber.
The vet gave them two options - either implant Sam with a pacemaker, or Sam would soon die. Since the second was not an option for Diane, a pacemaker was implanted three days later - and Sam became the "Wired Dog". It was necessary that he be kept very quiet for the first thirty days following surgery. He was then permitted to be leash walked for the following forty days and thirty days after that, he was permitted to swim and to be on a check cord.
Upon his return to competition, Sam was entered in the Master Hunter division. He earned the fourth leg of the required six legs to receive his Master Hunter title. Unfortunately, Sam has been unable to build up and maintain speed needed to be competitive in Field Trials.
In January 2009 Sam was doing well enough to begin entering the Hunt Test Master Division. He has earned three more legs and has now earned his Master Hunter title. He still participates in field trials as a pick-up dog (a dog that goes down the field and locates birds that were not recovered during the trial).
Sam is doing as well as can be expected. He enjoys his medical retirement and continues to participate in training, hunting and running with the other dogs. If he continues to improve with his speed he might be able to return to trialing someday. Sam is totally reliant on the pacemaker as it causes his heart to beat. The battery should last for about 5 years, then he will need to have a new pacemaker inserted. He goes in for yearly checkups and continues to be a joy in Diane's life as a beloved member of her family.
|Diane Christensen with Sam (on the left) and Sam's Mother, Sky, after a day of training, taken about 6 months after Sam had his pacemaker inserted.||Sam the "wired" dog doing what he loves to do!|