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Keeping The Beat

Friday, January 27, 2017

Pacemaker Posse parties at reunion


Dr. Ryan Baumwart, veterinary cardiologist at Oklahoma State University’s Veterinary Medical Hospital, has created a unique group of canine survivors appropriately named the Pacemaker Posse. Over the last two years, he has placed pacemakers in 23 dogs, improving their quality of life and, in many cases, prolonging their days on the planet.

In April, the pacemaker recipients were invited back to OSU.

Owners Maureen Cancienne, Rebecca Dees, Ken and Susie Sharp, Patricia Wayman and Mary Jo Wipperfurth brought five Pacemaker Posse dogs to OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences’ Annual Open House.

“When the veterinary center offers unique services such as this, we maintain our role as the premier specialty veterinary hospital in the state and region,” says Dr. Chris Ross, interim dean of the veterinary center. “Our faculty [members] have a chance to showcase their skills and knowledge; animal owners have access to lifesaving treatments; and our students are exposed to cutting-edge technologies.”

Patricia Wayman of Goltry, Okla., wanted to celebrate with her dog, Abby, at the open house.


“About a year ago, I really noticed that Abby would be moving and then she would just go down,” Wayman says. “I thought, well, she’s tired.

“I was fortunate that my veterinarian, Dr. Carey Bonds (OSU ’03) at Trinity Hospital, told me about Dr. Baumwart. We came over, and they ran all the tests.”

Abby had sick sinus syndrome.

“The sinus node is the normal pacemaker in the heart,” Baumwart says. “When that normal pacemaker stops, they don’t have normal blood flow to their brain, and they pass out.

“We have had dogs that will pass out 20 or 30 times a day.”

Baumwart suggested implanting a pacemaker; Wayman had to think about it.

“My family is farmers,” she says. “Abby is not a farm dog; Abby’s my child. So we talked about it and talked about it.

“Now in the small town that I live in, Abby’s the bionic dog. Everybody talks about, ‘Do you know that we’ve got a dog in Goltry that has a pacemaker?’ I would do it 100 times again.”

Abby received her pacemaker in September 2015. She turned 11 in May.

“She’s doing extremely well,” Wayman says. “Her quality of life — she’s out chasing rabbits and squirrels in the backyard. I tell you, Brandy Hutchings (cardiology veterinary assistant) and Dr. Baumwart are just wonderful. I highly recommend them.”

Susie Sharp of Stillwater inherited her dog, GiGi, from her aunt.

”I had GiGi a while, and suddenly her health was failing,” Sharp recalls. “She was losing weight. She couldn’t keep food down.”

Sharp’s veterinarian did exploratory surgery to try to diagnose GiGi’s problem.

“My veterinarian called to say GiGi had died on the operating table twice and been brought back twice — and she’s not going to come back a third time,” Sharp says.

GiGi did survive, and it appeared there was no brain damage.

“My vet suggested that we take GiGi to an intensive care unit rapidly — either in Edmond or at OSU,” Sharp says.


The family chose OSU, where veterinarians determined the muscles GiGi used in swallowing were too weak to function, and a pacemaker could help.

“I didn’t know they did that,” Sharp says.

GiGi was originally diagnosed with a third-degree blockage. She recently had her pacemaker replaced because its battery life was nearly depleted. 

Sharp says her family is very thankful they live in Stillwater. “We are very grateful to OSU.”

Traditionally, human pacemakers — about the size of a silver dollar — are used in dogs.

“We recently started using a company that provides animal pacemakers at a much reduced cost compared to the human pacemakers,” Baumwart says. “However, this can still be a large amount of money for the average pet owner.”

Training in specialties such as cardiology takes years of work and study.

“Our students can graduate with an awareness of the presence and possibilities in cutting-edge treatments at the veterinary center,” Ross says. “Some may also decide that they would like to pursue a career in specialties like cardiology.”

Derinda Blakeney, APR

To support the veterinary cardiology unit at OSU’s Veterinary Medical Hospital, contact Heidi Griswold at or 405-385-5656.

To watch a video about the OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences Open House, visit

“We thought this would be a great time to celebrate the success of these patients and show others a broader view of veterinary medicine.” — Dr. Ryan Baumwart

Gigi, owned by Ken and Susie Sharp

X-ray of pacemaker implanted inside a dog

Left: Dr. Ryan Baumwart carries Abby, a pacemaker recipient owned by Patricia Wayman of Goltry, Okla.


“Our students can graduate with an awareness of the presence and possibilities in cutting-edge treatments at the veterinary center,” Ross says. “Some may also decide that they would like to pursue a career in specialties like cardiology.” — Dr. Chris Ross

Some Pacemaker Posse reunion attendees took a horse-drawn carriage to a luncheon at the OSU Foundation. Seated in the wagon are (from left) Brandy Hutchings, veterinary assistant; Dr. Ryan Baumwart; Mary Jo Wipperfurth and Snoopy; and Susie and Kenneth Sharp with Gigi.

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