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Panda has been at our sanctuary, Tiny Paws Sanctuary for Special Needs Animals since he was a puppy. He was a very hyper puppy. He would jump up and down with gusto, and he always panted. We didn't know why. Years later, we do.

He has a micro-trachea. Imagine the trachea as a permanent marker and then consider the width of a pencil, and that will give you an idea of the difference in a normal trachea width, compared to Panda's trachea width. The xray below is not Panda's, but of a dog with a collapsing trachea (something I'll cover in the future). However, it will drive home, the challenge facing Panda daily, just to breathe.

Believe it or not, Panda is now 15 years old. With age he has developed hypothyroidism, bradycardia, and syncope. The last 2 combined with the micro-trachea, affect Panda in a major way.

Bradycardia is a condition in which the heart beats slower than it should. Syncope is what happens when the body can't get enough oxygen to the brain. The blood pressure drops and the dog collapses. They pass out. The first time Panda did it, I thought he was dead. Well, every time I think he's dead, but give him a few minutes and he becomes conscious again and runs around like it never happened.

Panda's heart beats at half the rate it should. The treatment is a pace maker. It is an expensive procedure, and one that I will not put him through for a few more months of life. At Tiny Paws, we believe in quality of life, not quantity.

Most of the time, Panda has normal days. Sometimes, he experiences syncope. Each time, I wonder if its his last. So far, he's the dog that just refuses to die. I am amazed by him and in awe for his passion for life. He lives in the present, doesn't dwell on the past, and certainly isn't anxious for the future. If we all lived that way, we would have a much more pleasant life.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw Panda pawing at his mouth. He looked in distress, and as I got closer, I realized his mucus membranes were a dark purple. He was cyanotic. He was choking to death.

As I said in a previous blog, I used the Heimlich maneuver, and after many attempts, eventually resorting to the last possible option, the object dislodged. I sat him down and he was fine. I said, "Panda, how in the hell are you alive?" Once again, he walked off like nothing ever happened.

Panda is a dog who refuses to give up.


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