I was letting my mind wander the other day, and during my daydream, I happened upon an old client of ours called Joe, long since departed from this world, and his constant companion, Shep.
Shep was no ordinary companion. He was one of the best sheepdog/collies that I have ever come across.
My first introduction to him was at a TB test almost 40 years ago.
“Watch this now!” said Joe to me, as he opened the door to a loose house which contained 20 big two-year-old bullocks.
Shep slipped inside the door, and without uttering a bark, walked in around the back of the bullocks ushering them out, nice and quietly.
There was no mad rush, but they knew that it was time for them to move out.
I always thought it amazing how Shep worked. He did not have to make any noise, but he was always in total control.
Shep would make his way to the paddock every day on his own to bring the cows in at the four o’clock milking time.
The only time he would get caught was when the clock changed but he quickly adjusted to the time change.
On one occasion, Joe told me, having brought the cows in for the four o’clock milking, Shep was creating such a fuss that Joe followed him down the fields, to find one of the cows was down with grass tetany. What a dog!
There are many other talented and loyal dogs like Shep around the countryside and, as my mind wandered, I wondered how many of them are as well looked after as Shep was.
He was vaccinated every year at the appointed time, since Joe wanted to make sure Shep was as protected as possible against all the common diseases that could take a dog.
This terminology is short for a number of diseases.
These include Canine Distemper (a virus that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems, as well as the conjunctival membranes of the eye).
Often the virus travels to the brain, causing seizures, shaking and trembling. It is worth noting that foxes can also have this disease.
It is passed through direct contact with fresh urine, blood or saliva.
Sneezing, coughing and sharing food and water bowls are all possible ways for the virus to be passed on.
Canine Adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1) causes infectious canine hepatitis (ICH). It affects the liver and kidneys and can lead to vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and even coma. Again, foxes can have it!
Canine Adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) is one of the kennel cough contributors, and can lead to a pneumonia).
Canine Parainfluenza (CPiV) is another Kennel Cough contributor virus.
Canine Parvovirus (CPV and CPV-2c) causes a very bad, bloody diarrhoea, that inevitably leads to death if the dog is not treated.
The treatment requires veterinary hospitalisation.
Again, it’s another one that foxes can get.
Finally, Leptospirosis. Rats play a very important part in the spread of this disease.
Dogs can pick it up by drinking from, or just playing in, contaminated waterways.
It affects the liver and kidneys and because of this, it is passed on in the urine to others.
As we know, dogs are always leaving their own calling card, and smelling other’s.
It is important to know that the working dog in the country is just as vulnerable as his “townie” cousins, and needs to be just as well protected.
Speak to your own vet about the other forms of protection you can give to your dog.