Saffron and Amber are Lurchers

Saffron and Amber are Lurchers

The Lurcher is a type of dog, rather than a pure breed, but it’s instantly recognizable. It’s usually a result of a cross between a sight hound (typically a greyhound) and a pastoral dog (such as a Collie). The resulting animal possesses a combination of speed, intelligence, and a willingness to work for their owner. Traditionally, Lurchers were known as poachers’ dogs, bred for hunting rabbits and other small animals. In recent years, they’ve been known as excellent family pets, with their gentleness and loyalty endearing them to their owners. Karen obtained her two dogs when they were eighteen months old, as rescue animals. They’d been unwanted by their original owners, and because they weren’t cute, cuddly puppies, they’d ended up with the DSPCA. Both dogs have settled in well with Karen. Karen takes the dogs into the Wicklow hills and woods every day, and they love to run off the leash. She’s trained them to come back to a referee-type whistle that she bought in a Euro shop. They’re very reliable: one blast of the whistle and they come charging back to her, eager for the treat that she has ready for them. Last week, the two Lurchers disappeared deep into the undergrowth during a walk, staying out of sight for a little longer than normal. They have jangly bells on their collars so that Karen can hear where they are, but this time she couldn’t hear them. When she blew her whistle, there was still no sign of them, and she began to get worried.  She blew the whistle repeatedly, and after another five minutes, first she...
Mia an eight year old Irish Wolfhound

Mia an eight year old Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhounds are magnificent creatures: gentle giants of the dog world. Sadly, like many large breeds of dogs, they have a relatively short life span, with many of the breed reaching the end of their lives by seven to ten years of age. Mia is eight and a half years old, which makes her the equivalent of a fourteen year old terrier-type. Almost a year ago, she developed a small, pea sized nodule on her underside. Miriam checked it out carefully, and was not too worried. She knew that older dogs develop occasional lumps and bumps, and as long as it remained at that tiny size, she didn’t feel that there was a need to do anything about it. For the following nine months, the small  nodule remained unchanged. When Mia came into season in early January, the lump suddenly began to grow. Within a few weeks, it had reached the size of a small plum, and Miriam knew that action had to be taken. She brought Mia in to see me. When I checked her, I found that there was more going on than just the plum sized lump: there were several new pea sized bumps close by. Mia was a classic example of the most common tumour to affect female dogs: mammary cancer, the equivalent of human breast cancer. The surge in female hormones during her season had stimulated the rapid growth of the cancer. Dog have ten mammary glands: a strip of five on each side, running from the level of their forelegs right back to their groin. The normal mammary tissue should be soft and...
Penny was diagnosed with Diabetes

Penny was diagnosed with Diabetes

Three years ago, Penny changed from being a normal, healthy eight year old dog into an animal with a life threatening illness. The problem started slowly.  Over a few weeks, it gradually became clear to the family that she was not quite herself. She started to empty her water bowl and she slowed down on walks, ambling beside the humans instead of charging around with her usual high energy style. When she uncharacteristically wet the floor in the kitchen overnight, it was the final straw: she was brought to the vet for a full check up. A blood test taken on that first visit was enough to make the diagnosis: Penny was suffering from Diabetes Mellitus, most commonly known as simply “Diabetes”.  The condition develops when the body stops producing enough insulin to control the blood sugar. It’s one of the most common hormonal diseases to affect older dogs. The blood sugar level shoots up to a level of thirty or more, when it should be less than ten. The high level of sugar in the blood causes a wide range of abnormalities in the body, with the increased thirst being the most obvious. Affected animals tend to lose weight, despite being ravenously hungry. If treatment is not given, the signs of illness become increasingly severe, eventually leading to severe weakness, coma and death. Treatment for diabetes is simple in one way, but complicated in another. A once or twice daily dose of insulin needs to be given, to replace the hormone that’s no longer being produced by the body. The catch is that this insulin cannot be given...
Duke is a Golden Retriever puppy

Duke is a Golden Retriever puppy

Nicole has always been a dog lover. Her family had always had a dog, but she still yearned to have one of her own.  She was delighted when she was given an adorable Boxer puppy, named Lola, for her eighteenth birthday. Lola grew up to be everything that Nicole had wanted from a dog: loyal, loving, and a pleasure to have in her life. When Nicole’s father retired last spring, Lola was six years old, and full of the energy of a typical adult Boxer. By now, Nicole was working full time, and so the fact that her Dad had more free time to take Lola for walks was ideal. She loved to be taken out and about, and she became fitter than ever. Towards the end of the summer, when Lola began to lose some weight, everyone thought that it was just because of her new energetic exercise regime. As the weight loss continued, and the underlying bones of her frame began to stand out, she was taken to the vet to make sure that there was nothing wrong with her. Tragically, a work-up revealed the worst possible scenario: Lola had malignant cancer and was only expected to live for another month. She was given chemotherapy, and at first she defied the odds, returning to full, vibrant health for over three months. Sadly, just before Christmas, the weight began to fall off her again, she stopped eating and she became very weak as the aggressive cancer returned. Nicole and her family made the difficult decision to let her go, staying with her as she was given the euthanasia...
Squeak the cat went missing for over three weeks

Squeak the cat went missing for over three weeks

Fiona shares her home her fiancé Adrian and their three cats: Mark and Orla, who’ve been with them for over two years, and one-year-old Squeak, who’s seen as the young upstart by the older two animals. The recent crisis started with some disagreements about night-time domestic arrangements. Each cat has its own established sleeping spot: Mark sleeps at the foot of Fiona and Adrian’s bed, Orla has a cubby hole in another bedroom, and Squeak is happy to sleep stretched out on the landing. The cats usually wait until the humans in the house are up and about before waking, but Squeak recently started to stir at 5am every morning. She repeatedly scratched on Fiona’s door until she woke to let Squeak go outside. After a few nights of broken sleep, Fiona decided to put Squeak into the outdoor cat kennel last thing at night: if she wanted to be up and about at dawn, she could do so without disturbing the rest of the house. The cat kennel has a cosy bed, with food and water nearby, and all of the cats sometimes choose to stay there overnight anyway. The next morning, when Fiona got up with the other cats, there was no sign of Squeak. Normally, if she slept outside, she’d be at the back door, looking for breakfast. At first Fiona thought she might just be busy elsewhere, but when there was no sign of her by the next day, she knew she’d gone missing. But what had happened? Had she had an accident of some kind? Was she lying sick somewhere? Or had she just...
Jasper suffered a broken bone in his foot after an accident at home

Jasper suffered a broken bone in his foot after an accident at home

Jasper is a home-loving cat.  She doesn’t like spending too much time in the cold world outside. Like many cats, she has an ability to seek out the warmest, coziest spots to sleep. Her favourite snoozing place is in a corner in the kitchen, where she has a soft cat bed, but later in the day, when everyone’s gone out to work and school, the kitchen cools down, and it becomes less appealing. Jasper has discovered that if she goes looking, she can find other comfortably heated spots to sleep. This tendency to seek out warmth can sometimes get cats into trouble. During the winter months, vets regularly have to deal with accidents that are caused by this heat-seeking habit. One of the warmest places to sleep – and one of the most dangerous – is underneath the bonnet of a car, curled up close to an engine that’s cooling down. Cats that live outside often discover that if they climb up under a car, they can wriggle into the engine compartment, where there’s usually a pleasantly warm flattened area to sleep. The problem is that cats often go into a deep sleep, only waking when the car owner is heading off to work in the morning. Suddenly the peaceful, warm sleeping area becomes a danger zone, with moving metal parts and no easy way out. Sadly, some cats don’t survive, and others are rushed to the vet, badly injured after the car driver has belatedly heard the yowls of a distraught cat coming from beneath their bonnet. Even around the home, there are cozy sleeping spots that can...