My first dog was a Doberman – German Shepherd mix. My family was offered this ‘male’ dog and my parents said yes. We excitedly decided to name ‘him’ Sam.
When Sam arrived, we discovered ‘he’ was a ‘she.’ We decided to keep her name, but call her Samantha- Sam for short.
She was instantly part of the family. I played in the yard with her – teaching her to fetch, sit, stay, run squirrels up trees and poles, and knew the joy of owning a dog. Mom used her to babysit the younger children. She accompanied my brothers to the woods near our home daily. One of her best talents was to hide quietly under the table at dinner time. This came in handy when mom made liver. We hated liver, Sam loved liver. When mom wasn’t looking, Sam took care of business and never told on us. Everyone was a winner.
One day Sam became mopey and would not eat. My parents took her to a veterinarian. I heard the word “distemper.” Distemper is a disease in dogs caused by a virus that attacks the intestines of affected animals and causes vomiting, diarrhea, not wanting to eat, and being very sick. The distemper virus can travel to the brain. When this happens, seizures may develop and there is very little chance the dog will survive.
I was worried and, when I am worried, I cry. We forced Sam to eat by using a turkey baster to give her baby cereal. After about a week, she began to recover and was herself again. Dogs may become ill after exposure to other dogs with this virus or other animals such as raccoons carrying the virus.
There is a vaccine available to dog owners to prevent distemper. Vaccinating is the best method of preventing the major diseases in dogs. In addition to distemper, vaccines are available for rabies, hepatitis, leptospirosis, kennel cough, and parvo. After seeing the devastating effects of disease in the dogs I loved, I am a believer in vaccines. I have vaccinated every dog, cat, horse, and goat since that time.
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