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If a Vaccination Could Have Saved Vanya

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258 – July, 2017

by Peri Norman

Vanya was her name. I remember her vividly. She was a puppy from Guide Dogs for the Blind. My siblings and I raised nine of them. While they all did not become Guide Dogs, they did all go on to lead lives of extraordinary service to humans. Except Vanya. She was a beautiful sable, smart, social, German Shepherd puppy. Shortly after she was placed with one of my sisters for puppy raising, we did what we always did with Guide Dog puppies and took her on a trip. She was technically my sister’s pup, but all the dogs in the house were a shared re- sponsibility. My sister had a 4-H meeting in Berkley, so we got a dog friendly hotel room and drove up the night before. While my sister was engaged in her meeting, Vanya and I relaxed and did a little exploring in Berkley. It was an uneventful trip.

Almost exactly a week later, we noticed Vanya seemed a little tired one night.., and she threw up her dinner. I can’t remember what the day’s activities involved, but I remember thinking that she must have really worn herself out. Me too. So all the dogs were put to bed for the night and the lights went out. I woke up the next morning to find Vanya dead in her crate and my young Gordon Setter deathly ill. The world changed overnight! Vanya had died of Parvovirus and my Gordon was barely clinging to life. It was a long time ago, probably 1978 or 1979, but those of us who were active in dogs have never forgotten those days of sheer terror.

The next ten years were a steep learning curve for all of us. In 1985, I added four Belgian pups to my group. Years after the ini- tial outbreak, and still terrified, I vaccinated them per the current protocol and then ran titers on them. The titers showed no anti-bodies so I revaccinated them. After the third set of vaccines with still no measureable titers, I gave up. I figured they would either live or die. All of them lived, but one came down with parvo and was nursed back to health by my mentor. One of the others began seizing at two years of age and seized her whole life. It would be years before I would learn the difference between circulating an- tibodies and cellular immunity, and about the dangers of over- vaccinating. In 1988, once again, I put two young pups to bed and woke up to dead dogs in the morning. It felt as though the nightmare would never end!

Click here to read the complete article
258 – July, 2017

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