Sunday, September 4, 2011

Animal Anecdote 45

Animal AZAnecdote 45

The Norwegian Elk-hound is a special animal in my previous life. We had one as a house dog called Fena. She was a prize possession with her personality. The only problem we had with her was the extent of her shedding all over everything. After becoming a veterinarian I advised owners of dogs with that type coat to clip it spring and fall. That’s for hair control and for comfort in hot weather. My father wondered about the effectiveness of that breed in hunting elk and while in Norway he visited an Elk-hound breeder who explained that all the dog was used for was to follow the wounded elk until the hunter could finish it off.

Among my clients was a family with two of those wonderful creatures until one morning early the phone call indicated that one seemed to be dyeing. They rushed it to my Clinic but on arriving the dog was dead. Both dogs had been the picture of health. They spent the days around the interior of their house and in a fenced in yard. Every night they would be kept in a comfortable basement.

I performed an autopsy and could identify nothing abnormal about the dog but took some samples of internal organs to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven and asked if they might study them for signs of a poison. A few hours later a scientist from the station phoned to inform me that the dog had died of lead poisoning.

The owners said that was impossible. I asked if I might check out their premises and they were appreciative. In the basement I found a few storm windows that had not been used in years and some chewing marks on the corner of one. Chips of paint were taken to the station and they had a high level of lead. Such a disaster from such a small amount of old paint underscores the importance of the well established program of removing all old oil based paint that contained high levels of the poison.

Next time: Bloodhounds to the scene

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