Zigi Zigenbein, a brave little dachshund with a big heart.
Zigi was abandoned by her owner, who asked the dog pound to destroy Zigi. I always believed that Zigi chose me. While most of the dogs either barked compulsively or laid impassively at the back of the kennel, seemingly resigned to their fate, Zigi's eyes sparkled as she walked calmly to the front of the kennel and kissed my face through the bars. She had this calm, Zen-like quality that is difficult to explain, it was something to be experienced.
For eight years, Zigi was my best friend and constant companion. I was a first year medical student when she first presented with congestive heart failure. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the Cardiology, ICU, and Emergency vets & students at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital, Zigi and I had an additional four months together. The cardiology department was amazing, and even arranged to obtain experimental heart medication from Germany, which helped Zigi have a better quality of life, and prolonged our time together. I just spoke with Zigi’s private practice veterinarian, who says she still uses Zigi’s “Big Heart” x-ray as a baseline for diagnosing CHF.
Zigi really was a special girl. I like telling people about Zigi because she was an “older” rescue dog at five years old; most dogs her age don’t get adopted. The older rescues make marvelous companions, too. They are past the “shoe chewing” stage, and are sometimes already house trained. People wanting to adopt a “rescue” should definitely consider a mature dog like Zigi.
Veterinarians have to be great “people persons”, dealing with the human factor as well as that of the pets whom they treat. Thank you, UMVH professors, students, and staff. I will never forget your kindness and support.