12-Year-Old Senior Dog Receives A Human Pacemaker That Saved Her Life

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

When you cherish the companionship your four-legged friend gives you and love them over the years, it is only natural to want to do everything you can to stretch the time you get to have by their side. This is exactly how Richard Berg, a native Minnesotan, felt when he learned that his beloved 12-year-old  Miniature Schnauzer Tara had some serious health issues. 

In an interview with the  PEOPLE magazine, Richard said that this February, "every once in a while Tara would just collapse. Sometimes she'd tip over and kick her legs up." It was a clear sign that something was really wrong. “It was really scary,” Berg said. "Her heart sometimes stopped for as long as 14 seconds.”

As soon as he saw something was not as it should be, Richard rushed his senior friend to the River Veterinary Center in nearby Preston, Minnesota. After a thorough examination, the vet concluded that 12-year-old Tara had heart issues, and was suffering from sick sinus syndrome, a serious disease that targets the heart. The ideal remedy for this, his vet said, was a human pacemaker – a small device that can help remedy the heart’s irregular rhythm.

At first, Richard thought there was nothing to be done, as the costs of such a device - and the operation - would likely be very high. But the truth was much different. By chance, Richard got in touch with  Medtronic, a medical device company that donates human pacemakers to be used in veterinary operations. Medtronic has donated more than 300 pacemakers so far, including the one used in Tara’s operation. The pacemakers are donated to  CanPacers, a nonprofit organization focused on pet cardiology that distributes these pacemakers to veterinary hospitals.

And so, with a bit of good luck and help from some very generous groups, Tara the beloved schnauzer got a second chance. At the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine a routine, two-hour operation was performed, and the tiny doggo received a human-grade pacemaker. After a stable recovery, Tara got to go home with her favorite human, where she has been recovering perfectly ever since. "She hasn't had any issues since the pacemaker was put in," Richard Bergs says, endlessly happy that his dear pet is no longer in danger.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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