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Penny Tells Her Story

Penny Tells Her Story - Marion Bergan in Berkshire, Dalton, Pittsfield, Lenox, WindsorHi, my name is Penny and I have had quite a year! Wow, where to start?! Well, why don’t I share my whole story with you.  I was born May 22, 2006 and spent my first three years with a lovely family that had six children under ten years old, and another dog that was four years older than me. With all those children and another dog in the home, I didn’t get a lot of attention. However, my first Mom’s marriage ended early this year, and I found myself in a new home with two wonderful children under ten.  Soon after arriving, my new Mom took me to the Doctor for a checkup and the Doctor told my new Mom that I had a very serious heart condition and that it was likely I wouldn’t live much longer.  My new Mom was very concerned for me as well as her children and she didn’t know what to do.  After five days, they decided to take me to the Berkshire Humane Society (BHS) where they hoped I would find a home that could care for me.  Boy, I am I ever glad they did that.  They actually saved my life!

The Berkshire Humane Society is a wonderful place. They took such good care of me, I will be forever grateful to them for all they did.  When I arrived with what was called an extremely bad heart murmur, they wanted me to have further testing to better understand what was wrong.  A couple weeks went by, but eventually a very nice Doctor who travels around and takes pictures of the heart on little ones like me, came to North Adams.  They sent me up there to see Dr. Elizabeth Shaker, and after she took pictures of my heart, she said that I had something that could be fixed, but it would cost a lot of money.  As it turns out, I had what they call a Patent Ductus Arteriosous.  This is a blood vessel that is normally present in a puppy before it is born. At birth or within a few days after birth, this blood vessel should close forcing blood to flow through the lungs to pick up oxygen. If this vessel does not close, it allows a lot of blood to bypass the lungs.  As you can imagine, uncorrected the outlook for me was not very good.  My problem was that this life saving surgery was going to be very expensive, and no one was sure quite what to do.

Soon after becoming a Resident at the BHS people started coming around looking at me, and one day this nice lady came and asked to visit with me. I was nervous at first and not sure what was going on, but we went for a walk in the sun and spent some time out side. She came to visit me every week after that. Soon after my trip to North Adams, I started getting very stressed in my kennel, and didn’t know what was going to happen to me.  My care takers were very nice and tried to comfort me, but I was anxious and needed a quieter environment to feel secure.  One day, the nice lady came and took me in her car, which I really wasn’t too sure about, but I went along for the ride to see what it was all about. We went to her house and she showed me around and explained that this was my forever home, and she was my forever Mom, and my forever Dad would be home after work. She showed me all the special places she had made for me in my new home, we went for walks around the neighborhood and we spent time just getting to know each other.  Meanwhile, my new Mom found a Cardiologist in Albany and we went to see him.  He said that since my heart was already significantly enlarged, I should have the surgery as soon as possible, so as to avoid any further irreversible heart damage.  The BHS and my Mom went to work to raise the money and I had my surgery in early August.

I was over night in the hospital and the next morning when my Mom came to get me she was really really amazed.  It was as if they had taken my old heart out and given me a new one!!! Before, my heart would be in constant motion with no real beats, just a back and forth whooshing feeling and sound. It was also really big and filled my chest. That morning, just one day after surgery, I had a normal heart rhythm with regular beats, and my heart was already 25% smaller!!! It no longer filled my Mom’s hands when I sat on her lap.  Dr. Wey, my cardiologist, said the mitral valve murmur was also totally gone because of the decrease in heart size! This was totally awesome!!! He also said the open vessel bypassing my lungs was now 100% occluded.  He only wants to see me again for a follow up to check on my progress, and after that he says he probably won't need to see me again until old age!!!  WOW - a normal heart, with no arrhythmias! Incredible!!!

Since my surgery I have really been enjoying life. Now I feel like I have an extra bounce in my step and notice there are a lot more birds and squirrels that need chasing! People have remarked how much more confident and energetic I am.  I love going to work with my Mom and am trying to help her out by being the official “Meet and Greet” receptionist at the office.  Everybody has to do their part, even me!  My Mom is an acupuncturist who enjoys helping others, and senses that I may have the temperament to work as a Therapy Dog.  It seems like a natural fit. I love meeting people, children, and other animals and am very sensitive to the emotional environment surrounding me.  I told my Mom that after we conquer Obedience Training I might like to continue training to be certified as an official Therapy Dog so we can go visit the people hospitals together.

Another new thing that I am so thankful for is that my Mom noticed that I love to run. I would much rather go for a run than a walk, and my Mom indulges me and runs with me.  She has even found some places we can go off leash where I can run and run and run without fear of cars or other dangers. Other than my work this is my favorite activity. I am never so happy as when I run free with the my ears flung back, the wind in my face and dirt flying off my paws as I tear up the earth in my race to play tag with my Mom!

I know that I would not have had all this good fortune if it had not been for everyone pulling together to support the “Pennies for Penny” fund which provided the money necessary to cover my medical expenses. I am also grateful to the Berkshire Humane Society and all those who cared for me while I was in residence there. I was treated with love and they have only wanted the best for me even after adoption. It is always so exciting to go back and see all my old friends there. I know when we turn onto Barker Road where we are going, and my Mom says I am beside myself until I get inside and see everyone!

As for my new home, I couldn’t be more grateful for my Mom and Dad.  They have helped me every step of the way, anticipating my needs and helping me feel confident in learning and trying new things. My world is bigger and more exciting and I know I am loved beyond belief, and that I have found my place in this world. My only wish is that all the other little ones in Residence at BHS find such warm loving forever homes like mine.

~ August 2009     

Penny gets acupuncture too!
Pet Acupuncture: An Important Healing Tool           

Penny Tells Her Story - Marion Bergan in Berkshire, Dalton, Pittsfield, Lenox, Windsor
Penny at work Spring 2012

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Penny Tells Her Story - Marion Bergan in Berkshire, Dalton, Pittsfield, Lenox, Windsor

63 Flansburg Ave
Dalton, MA 01226