Monday, February 28, 2011

I saved a life today!

Summit got his clearance to be a blood donor finally. We started the process back in January. The dogs get an initial physical exam and blood work to make sure they are healthy and have no blood borne diseases. On his initial physical I mentioned that he had an enlarged toe on his right hind foot. Attempting to get a sample from it was unsuccessful as it was very bony. To be safe it was decided that we would x-ray it to make sure it was just an old injury and not osteosarcoma (the dreaded O word).

His x-rays were inconclusive. We decided to wait 3 weeks and retake them to see if there were any changes. I was starting to get anxious at this point since I had been expecting his x-rays to come back clean. While we waited for the 3 weeks to pass we got the good news that his tick titres had all come back negative and so long as his next x-rays were good then he was set to be a blood donor. 3 weeks later he went back and got his clearance.

Summit proudly boasts: "I saved a life today!"
Now, this is how wonderful greyhounds are. Dogs normally have to be sedated for these x-rays because they're so awkward and take so long. Two views are taken, one with the dog in a sphinx, and one with the dog flat on his side. In the sphinx they put cotton balls between the toes to separate them (we don't want any overlap of the bones we're trying to look at), and in the side view tape is attached to each toe and each one is pulled in a different direction, again to get separation between them. You can see why most dogs need to be sedated for this. It's a tedious process and you've got all this tape and cotton which is uncomfortable. Summit was a star though and didn't mind at all, especially since I was there with him.

Yes, yes I did.
The new x-rays looked exactly the same as the ones taken 3 weeks before so it was determined that he had an old injury. Since he never raced (or so we believe since we can't find any data suggesting that he did) we wonder if this was an old training injury which prevented him from ever racing. Either way it was good news. The blood donor program was notified and they called me later that afternoon to ask if Summit could donate the next day. They were very short on blood and Summit (like many greyhounds) is type A-, the universal donor. I was unable to be there with him for his first donation but I'm told he was very, very good. Of course, he also knows the girls down there because I worked there over the summer and Christmas.

Being a blood donor is hard work!
If you have a blood donor program in your area and your grey is confident and social you should consider enrolling him/her as a blood donor. There are lots of benefits for you and your dog, and it feels good to know that your dog is saving lives. At my school the details of the program are as follows (other programs will differ but should have similarities). Dogs must be between the ages of 1 and 5 years old when they enter the program with no existing health problems and must be over 50 pounds. They get physical exams, blood work, fecal, and urinalysis every year or two. Dogs donate approximately every 2 months and after each donation they get their nails clipped and ears cleaned if needed, they also bring home a small bag of dog food and a box of dog cookies. After their first donation they get a bandana (that says "I saved a life today") and a leash. They also get free heartworm preventative every summer. They also get free blood products if (God forbid) they were to require any at any time in their life. They remain in the program for 2 years and then are retired. We have lots of greyhounds in our program and they do great. They're so calm and well behaved during the procedure and they get lots of cookies and attention once they're done so it seems like they do enjoy it!

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