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Artie in the hospital

by Brian Clarey

Artie is a good boy. He’s 10, an Australian Shepherd who normally displays all the traits of the breed. He likes to run and play on the vast grounds of the chicken farm where he lives. He’s good with the other animals.

Though he’s smart enough to be a work dog, Artie is more of a pet than an employee. Still, as good dogs are wont to do, Artie sees himself as Protector of the Realm, despite his slight frame and sweet disposition.

And that’s why he’s here, at the Guilford College Animal Hospital, curled at the back of a kennel cage, shaking, a cone of recovery around his head, near a cat who was traumatized by a flea repellent meant for dogs. She’s taking methocarbamol for her tremors.

“[Artie] got mauled by coyotes,” says Dr. Jason Streck, who owns the facility and, by happenstance, employs Artie’s owner. There’s a big hole in his abdomen, tears everywhere.”

About a week into his recovery, Artie still wears the wounds from his bout with the coyotes: an awful, raw, red lesion near his hindquarters, wounds all over his legs and body — “He probably had 400 puncture wounds on him,” Streck says — and a look in his soft, brown eyes suggesting he still remembers everything.

Artie is lucky to be alive. “It was daytime,” the vet says. “He was a ways away from the farm. I think they were fighting him and he got away.”

Artie’s case is a variation of what Streck calls “BDLD,” for big dog/little dog, that makes up a good piece of his emergency business.

“Where the big dog tears the crap out of the little dog in a dogfight,” he says. He had one just last month: Snowball, a fluffy little white dog who got “pulled apart by three labs on the golf course.

“That dog made it, too,” he says. He also sees in a month between four and five cases of canine GDU — gastric dilatation-volvulus.

“The dog flips its stomach over,” he says.

“It cuts off access. Nothing can get in and nothing can get out…. You see it in deepchested, large-breed dogs.

Sometimes he can manipulate the organ back to its original position, but usually it’s a surgical procedure.

He’s had wild animals — “No species that have a high propensity for rabies” — reptiles, livestock and, once, a poison dart frog come through his hospital.

“It’s owner said it was ‘lethargic,’” he says.

But mostly it’s just dogs and cats. Dogs, really.

“Cats have miraculous healing powers,” he says. “They do really well with wounds.”

And the problem with dogs is that they do not use much discretion when choosing what to eat.

“Dogs eat nasty stuff,” he says. Wine corks. Undergarments. Sanitary products. And worse.

His own dogs are not immune. Last Halloween, usually a big night for chocolate toxicosis cases — chocolate can be poisonous for dogs — the only afflicted dog that came in was his own black lab, Maddie.

The emergency hospital has been in operation since 1976, founded by a group of local vets according to Streck.

They were tired of carrying pagers, taking calls in the middle of the night. ‘Let’s buy this building, hire some staff and let them handle our headaches at 3 a.m.’” That’s basically how this it started.”

He bought the place a couple years ago after more than a decade in the industry.

Good thing for Artie. He’ll be in and out of the hospital for the next couple weeks while the medication sets and the wounds knit. Then he’ll be ready to adjust to his new life.

“These guys have never owned an indoor dog,” Streck says. “They have one now.”

WANNA go?

After Hours Veterinary Emergency Clinic & Guilford College Animal Hospital; 5505 W. Friendly Ave., Greensboro; 336.851.1990; ahvec.com

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