This is a short story about the time I decided to listen to my dog Otis’ heart beat.

Otis is an 18 months old smooth haired mini dachshund. He loves fetch so much that he whimpers with ecstasy at the mere sight of a ball. He is a beaming ray of sunshine in my every day and I love him more than words could describe.

We have a post walk routine that we love. We come back, get dry, have breakfast, retire to the lounge and Otis curls up next to me as a friendly croissant. I read for an hour with black coffee and he sleeps on my lap. When time comes to work, he always looks devastated that I’d leave him, and begs me to stay with his eye brows.

So that day, I did.

I hugged him whilst in croissant mode and leant in to his chest. His warm fur brushed against my face and I could hear his heart beating away.

Otis is a healthy dog. He has no congenital issues, and his heart works perfectly. The pulse is steady, regular and strong. I felt he trusted me unquestionably and allowed himself to be vulnerable around me.

But it suddenly dawned on me. That it was certain that his heart beat will inevitably, eventually deteriorate over time. Just like my patients’ hearts that stuttered and skipped as they aged.

I have to remind myself that I take things for granted when they’re going well. That moments like this are the ones I need to cherish. And all it takes is to take a moment to listen.