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May, 2010:

The Loving and Lasting Effects of a Family Pet

When I was growing up, a dog was always part of my family. The dog I remember most was Duchess, a little blonde cocker spaniel, who will always have a special place in my heart.

Duchess was bought with paper route money saved by my brothers and sister. However, shortly after they began driving and dating, they were not as active in her life as they once were. It was then that I had ‘exclusive’ rights to say she was ‘my dog’ because I was the youngest in the family.

We acquired Duchess from a local breeder on Route 40 East. She was AKC registered and I remember the day we picked her up. All the puppies were in wire pens and we selected her to run around the yard. We laughed as she ran and tripped over her feet. She was definitely our choice because of her ‘star qualities’ – a clumsy run along with her little round head and sweet eyes.

Duchess was a little nervous and had one strange quirk, but I called it talent. When I’d wave my hands and arms like a conductor, she’d look up and start snapping her mouth. Her sounds were right in tune with the quickness of my flying arms. I thought she was so talented to do this every time. “Let’s do the conductor,” I’d say. Her little mouth started snapping away. What a talented dog!

Oh, yes, Duchess was not only talented, but also protective. She would stand guard at every friend’s house where I’d visit. My mom knew where I was when she saw Duchess sitting on someone’s porch. My little dog even followed me to school. From our house, school was about 8 blocks away. She’d follow me to school and wait on the stoop landing which was right outside my classroom window. First thing, I’d go over to the pencil sharpener and look out the window to see if she was still there. She’d stay a little while and then head back to the house. It amazed me that she knew her way home. Back then, there were not too many people who walked their dogs on leashes. Things were so different then than now.

In March, 1957, we found Duchess to be a great traveling companion too. She went with us on our family vacation to Biloxi, Mississippi; and, why not, she was part of the family! Duchess had her own place in the car. It was on the platform of the rear window and then after a few miles, she’d move down on the seat to stick her head out the window to let her ears blow in the breeze. What a faithful companion!

There was one time when Duchess ran away with some mutt dog; and, of course, she came home pregnant and sick. She had a miscarriage and needed to be rushed to the Vet’s office. He kept her at the animal hospital and said it didn’t look good. That night, I prayed God would heal her. Even back then, God was trying to show His love, grace, and mercy to me as He allowed my dog to live! I remember thanking God and crying ‘happy tears’ that my friend was coming home.

Then when Duchess got older, it was hard for her to hold herself until she was let outside. She had frequent accidents and had my mom in a complete uproar. However, we all agreed that she was worth all the inconvenience. When her little body shut down, my dad was the one who lifted her up into his arms and took her to the Vet to be euthanized. He had a tough job and tears filled his eyes. My entire family shed many tears at this loss. However, we did what was best for Duchess. She was only ten years old when she died. I thought ten was old then, but now dogs live (like people) much longer.

Duchess shared a lot of time with me, and, to this day, when I see a little blonde cocker spaniel, I think of her and how much fun we had together. Duchess was one talented and faithful dog! She’s a wonderful memory on how deep the pet-human bond goes!

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Don’t Let Summer Bug You

By David Henry, DVM, Northwood Veterinary Hospital, Springfield, OH

Ben, the German Shepherd, keeping cool in the shade

How many of you think that all you do during the summer is mow yard, trim shrubs, and weed your flower beds? With warm weather and rain, conditions are perfect for the plant world. So also are the conditions for all the pests in the bug world.

Let’s narrow our focus to the pests that “bug” us: fleas, ticks, flies, and mosquitoes. The whole secret to NOT having fleas and ticks to be a problem is to start early (April or May) with a prevention program. Keep your yard well mowed and sprayed. Keep kennels cleaned, disinfected, and sprayed.

As for your pets, in the last two to three years the break through in technology in the control and prevention of fleas and ticks has afforded nearly 100% relief from fleas and ticks. Products like ‘Program’ and ‘Sentinel’ which prevent fleas by inhibiting egg and larval development 99% for up to 32 days or products that kill fleas such as ‘Advantage’ or ‘Frontline’ at a nearly 99% rate for 30 days are available. These products when started early and used monthly are more effective in the flea prevention and yet are probably safer on all ages of pets than many of the older generation of pesticides used in years past.

When we think of flies, most of us reach for a fly swatter to rid the kitchen of this unwanted pest. Flies can be a real burden for animals. The face fly attacks the ear tips on a small percent of usually longhaired outdoor dogs (collies, shepherds and huskies). The symptoms manifested are swollen, raw, bleeding, crusty ear tips. An insecticidal gel applied daily to the affected ear tips does wonders. Also supplementing the diet with Brewers yeast may alter your dog’s blood odor and indirectly repel the flies. This product is cheap and most dogs like it.

The most disagreeable fly strike is the blowfly. It is mostly commonly seen with longhaired, older pets, the very young, and pets with suppurative wounds or injuries. The flies are attracted by odors of urine, feces, or blood. The flies lay their eggs and within hours they hatch and feed on sores or wounds. Left untreated, they can and will kill your pet. Keep older pets clean and sheared in the summer. Keep their kennels clean, dry and insect free.

Saving the best or should I say worst for last, the pest that can ruin a beautiful outdoor evening is the mosquito. Besides its bothersome bite, this insect carries many diseases dangerous to man as well as animal.

The one disease, however, that has continued to become more and more prevalent to the Miami Valley is heartworm. This predominately dog parasite is also seen occasionally in cats and rarely has been in all warm-blooded animals including man. From a parasite indigenous to the southern gulf coast states and rarely seen in Ohio through the 1960s, heartworm has now become endemic throughout most of Ohio. This parasite’s larva enters the body through a mosquito bite and within 6 to 8 months can attain a length of 11-14”. Living on the right side of the heart and pulmonary vessels, they can over time result in chronic heart failure. There are usually no symptoms for 2 to 3 years. Due to its slow insidious nature, I truly believe most people do not appreciate the serious health problem posed by this pest. By the time symptoms appear, it is generally too late. If diagnosed early with annual blood testing by your veterinarian, the disease is very treatable. With all the preventative medications available today, your dog or cat does not need to be afflicted with this silent killer. From the older, still available and effective daily medications to the more popular monthly preventatives such as ‘Heartguard’, ‘Intercepter’ and ‘Revolution’, this parasite can be stopped before it happens.

The FDA has approved a new breakthrough in a 6-month time released injectable heartworm preventative called ‘Proheart-6’. It should be available from your veterinarian now. This product appears to have the positive attribute that the owner no longer need remember (or forget) to give that monthly pill.

Now as you enjoy a wonderful, warm Ohio summer sitting in the shade or by the pool with your pet, remember that your pets need plenty of shade and cool water too. Prevention is the key to a healthy, bug-free summer.

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Dogs Don’t Come Cheap

Since the early 1960’s when Patti Page sang on the ‘Hit Parade’, How Much is That Doggie in the Window, the cost of adding a dog to the family has skyrocketed! (In addition, who wants to buy a puppy from a pet shop anymore? No way! Check out rescues, Humane Society or reputable breeders. Do your homework on what breed is best for your lifestyle.)

 In 2009, Americans spent approximately $45.4 billion on pets. Now that’s a chunk of change!

 Average cost of a dog from puppyhood to grave (medium to large dog):

 Initial Cost (Average cost only, varies with size and breed):

 $ 35 and up for mixed breed     $350 and up for AKC-registered

 Pet Maintenance (Average cost only, varies with size and breed):

$30.00 average weekly (Iams or comparable food)

$175.00/year med-check (including flea/heartworm program, not including all puppy shots)

$500.00 yearly pet sitting fee (2 weeks per year, 3 visits per day)

With the above expense, the average cost of a dog from puppyhood to the grave, if the dog lives at least 15 years, totals approximately $33,525.

These costs are with a healthy dog with no extras, i.e. medical expenses or pet insurance, pet clothing, or graveside or cremation services when the beloved passes on.

Now some expense could be trimmed off by boarding your dog in a kennel instead of a pet sitter’s special services. Usually, smaller dogs are more economical because they eat less, however, they may require more medical care. It really depends upon the breed; and, of course, every dog is different.

(Based on 2009 rates. These costs vary too from state to state.)

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