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Germ Warfare

By Amy Fernandez

Old school dog people are great; they’ve seen it all and are basically impervious to panic. That’s precisely what we need at the moment, so I checked in with Lourdes Fernandez, English Setter breeder and dog show veteran extraordinaire. On top of that, she also spent her career in a teaching hospital. She knows a lot about germs.

She says, “When I worked in the hospital annual flu shots were mandatory for all employees, as were many things such as yearly tutorials on proper hand washing techniques and other universal precautions. At the start of the AIDS epidemic, we had no idea how it was being transmitted for quite awhile. As health care workers we were going to be exposed to a lot of stuff, which was a day to day reality. It was standard practice to assume that everything is contagious until proven otherwise. So in that sense, dog people are in a better position to cope with this situation.

“They’re right to be concerned but they don’t seem to be going off the deep end like the general public because we are accustomed to dealing with germ control. This mindset is built into our daily routine, especially those of us with multiple dogs.

“The immune system is a wonderful thing, soldiers fight. However, this strain of coronavirus is completely new. No one has had previous exposure. They haven’t built up any natural antibodies so there is a genuine risk that it could escalate.

“I get the reality of the situation. But I was around when parvo first appeared years ago and I still went to shows. I had puppies at home at the time, but I didn’t touch any of my dogs until I had changed my clothes, washed my hands. I took precautions automatically and everything was fine. Same thing with kennel cough. You have this backup mentality. Sanitation is literally something you are doing from the moment you wake up. There is always a really old one and a puppy that’s not fully vaccinated. So, this potentially susceptible population at home is a constant fact of life.

“I give my dogs vitamin C, make sure they have high quality food, plenty of sunshine, fresh air, exercise–all the standard things to ensure that they maintain strong immune systems. We have these built in protocols for preventing contagion. That stuff is second nature,”  she says.

So, this will soon be over. Just keep doing what you always do. And yes, there is a bright side to all that drudgery and endless cleaning.

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Posted by on Mar 23 2020. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • September 2020