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On June 4th of this year, we picked up our son from college and went to a breeder in Oil Springs, Ontario, to meet our new puppy.

Our newest member is an almost 9 month old Blue Merle Rough Collie.  Her name is Mariska, Mari for short. She’s named after Mariska Hargitay, a bad ass in life and on TV.

We arrived back in Nova Scotia on June 6th.  I made an appointment for her to see the vet as her eyes were goopy and weeping a brownish fluid.  Our vet clinic fit us in on the 7th, and her eye infection became the least of our worries.

During her exam, our vet discovered that she had a grade IV heart murmur.  So along with two congenital eye diseases, our baby dog is quite ill.  Once her eyes clear up we’ll tackle the murmur and get her checked out.  Luckily we live close to the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, PEI.

Heart murmurs have a lot of layers to them

There are three types.

There are three types of murmurs: systolic, diastolic, and continuous. This classification is based on the timing of the murmur. Systolic murmurs, for instance, are murmurs that take place when the heart muscle contracts, whereas diastolic murmurs happen when the heart muscle is relaxed in between beats. Continuous murmurs, on the other hand, happen throughout your dog’s regular heartbeat cycle.

From there, they are graded based on loudness.  Mari has a grade IV. The grade IV murmur means it was loud enough to hear on both sides of her chest.

They are then broken down by configuration.

  • Plateau murmurs are characterized by a uniform loudness. These murmurs are usually associated with an aortic valve insufficiency.
  • Crescendo-decrescendo murmurs, like their name implies, get louder and then quieter. These are associated with conditions such as aortic and pulmonic stenosis.
  • Decrescendo murmurs start off loud and then grow quieter. These murmurs are commonly seen with aortic valve insufficiency or a ventricular septal defect.
  • Machinery quality, or continuous murmurs, are associated with patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), which is a congenital heart defect.

I asked about heart murmurs in a rescue group on Facebook, to which I belong, and have found some really helpful tips from fellow Collie lovers.  A few of the owners have dealt with heart murmurs so it’s good to know I’m not alone!

We’ve been in touch with the breeder, who is refusing to refund our money unless we return our puppy. Which is not going to happen. Our vet said that even though we bought her, she is a rescue to get her away from the breeder!

A responsible breeder would never breed a dog who could pass on congenital eye problems.

A responsible breeder would NOT let a dog get so matted that she’d need multiple groomings with scissors to cut out the mats.

A responsible breeder would NOT sell a dog with a heart murmur and not tell the buyer.

A responsible breeder would not show me the canine ophthamologist’s report and tell me that the “mild choroidal hypoplasies” is what a breeder likes to see.  

And a responsible breeder would never tell someone that the redness and discharge from a puppy’s eyes are because she’s about to have her first heat cycle.  When she told me that, I knew I had to grab this puppy and get as far away from this breeder as I can.  As a layperson, I know that was a ridiculous statement!

Our girl is safe here, and will NEVER go back to that breeder. Her FB page has the reviews function turned off so the last reviews are from 2016.  And as another breeder who messaged me last night, the breeder is hit or miss. You either get a great, healthy dog, or you get a dog with congenital issues and hidden problems.

There will always be bad breeders.  We need to put them in the spotlight to hopefully encourage them to focus more on the health of their dogs, and not the size of their pocketbook.