Dog’s owners show appreciation with luncheon, donation


Mishka's owners with clinicians during appreciation luncheon.

Tatia and Dave Heine are shown with members of Mishka’s care team, Dr. Stan Kim, Dr. Kelly Fishman and Dr. Justin Shmalberg, during an appreciation luncheon the Heineses held for the group on Oct. 20. (Photo by Sarah Carey)

“Through these halls pass the great minds, skillful hands and caring hearts of those who truly love animals. To all my friends, thank you from the bottom of my terrier heart for my new knee and the ability to thrive.” –Mishka Heine, Oct. 20, 2014

By Sarah Carey

If great things truly come in small packages, Mishka is the poster child for that expression. Only in her case, the svelte package that is Mishka — now a honed and toned 15 pounds of Boston terrier love –arrived at her destination through an odyssey of medical treatments, all of which endear her even more to her doting owners, Dave and Tatia Heine.

To show their appreciation for the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital’s role in Mishka’s health, the Heines treated members of their pet’s care team to a catered luncheon, held on the hospital’s third floor on Oct. 20. The couple presented plaques of appreciation to several individuals who have had long-term involvement in Mishka’s care. Receiving the plaques were Drs. Kris Cooke, a clinical associate professor of small animal medicine; Dr. Justin Shmalberg, a clinical assistant professor and chief of the integrative medicine service; Dr. Kelly Fishman, an intern with the integrative medicine service.  Dr. Antonio Pozzi, a former associate professor of small animal surgery at UF whom Dave Heine refers to as “the master of the knee,” had worked closely with Mishka over a period of several years. He received his plaque in August.

“Dr. Pozzi had enough foresight to think outside the box on how to help Mishka walk again,” Dave Heine said.

The Heines also made several donations totaling more than $23,500 to the UF Small Animal  Hospital to help other animals. The couple’s soft heart for injured animals was also reflected recently in an anonymous donation they made to the Veterinary Community Outreach Program’s Helping Alachua’s Animals Receive Treatment and Surgery (HAARTS) fund to help a shelter dog Dave Heine had heard was in need of medical treatment, in addition to funding a research project for Fishman, whom he acknowledged as “a special intern who has touched our hearts in all she has done and who is Mishka’s second mom.”

During the presentation of the plaques, Dave Heine collectively and individually thanked members of the team for the role each has played during Mishka’s many stays at the UF Small Animal Hospital, occasionally growing tearful when he described how much Mishka means to him and his wife, and how a very special intern — Fishman — had touched not only their hearts but also their lives.

“The UF College of Veterinary Medicine honestly rocks,” said Heine, in his typical straightforward style. “Because of these caring students, interns, residents and clinicians, many tails will wag.”

He said he was personally grateful to have gotten to know Mishka’s care providers, and that she was always happy to visit UF.

“Mishka is my little rock star,” Heine said. “When things look bad, she faces the challenge and overcomes the obstacle. We can learn a lot from her.”

Mishka’s health problems began when she was approximately 6 months old and injured her knee on a walk. She seemed to bounce back, but two years later, that knee began bothering her again. Mishka received two surgical procedures by her local veterinarian, but eventually was referred to UF for additional corrective treatment performed by Dr. Antonio Pozzi, a former UF small animal surgeon.

Things seemed to be rocking along pretty normally for Mishka, although Pozzi had told her owners to expect that over time, her arthritis would worsen. Then, out of the blue, she became ill and was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease and lymphangiectasia.

Once again Mishka came to UF, where she was seen and treated by Cooke, who provided advice and comfort even as Mishka continued to fight her illness. Then in April, Mishka’s knee finally gave out.

Back to UF she came, this time to see her old friend Pozzi again. And this time, Pozzi performed a procedure known as a patella groove replacement,  a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy and a tibial transposition tuberosity — a first ever for a small dog and for the college, to make Mishka more comfortable. Since then, Mishka has been a live-in patient in the integrative medicine service, where she received rehabilitative therapy seven days a week. Her treatment involves regular sessions in the underwater treadmill and in the aquatherapy pool.

In the process, her weight has decreased from a high of 21 pounds to her present trim-figure weight of 16 pounds.







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