Two special dogs whose lives are intertwined through veterinary procedures met face-to-face for the first time recently – one a life-saving blood donor greyhound called Disco, and the other an ailing labradoodle called Skylar, who belongs to Cambridge ceramic artist and Te Awamutu Museum administrator Trish Seddon.
Now four-and-a-half, Skylar is a New Lives Animal Rescue pup adopted by Trish at just six months old. Not long ago, Trish noticed Skylar’s extreme exhaustion. “She would sometimes just drop to the floor from standing, or fall to the ground while mid-air trying to catch a ball.”
Vets discovered Skylar had Myasthenia Gravis, an auto-immune disease in which there is a malfunction in the transmission of signals between the nerves and muscles, causing excessive fatigue and difficulty in swallowing.
“She wasn’t producing red blood cells or making platelets,” said Trish. “She was severely anaemic and bleeding internally, and would have died if it weren’t for the blood transfusions given every four to five days at that critical stage.”
Trish said Skylar was diagnosed and treated at Cambridge Pet Vet.
“They were fantastic. The staff generously offered their pet dogs as blood donors, but once we had used them, we had to source other donors quickly.
“In desperation I posted a request on the Cambridge Grapevine, calling for doggy blood donors weighing over 25kgs. Within about 15 minutes I had an overwhelming response of offers from over 100 local owners of all breeds of dogs. One group that stood out were the local greyhound owners. I found out that 85 percent of greyhounds are ‘universal donors’ and several of them were registered with local vets.”
Among the respondents was the Cambridge-based president of the Waikato Greyhound Racing Club, Jenny Bartlett. She is also the owner of Disco, a champion and now-retired greyhound who under his race name, Ring the Bell, won the coveted $88,000 Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar. He also featured in the News a couple of years ago when his donated blood saved a critically ill labrador-cross called Odom.
“He has since made a number of donations with local vets,” said Jenny. “I know how valuable greyhounds’ blood is in terms of transfusions, so if we can help out with our dogs, we should. It gives you a great feeling to know you have helped another dog survive.”
Skylar was in ICU for two weeks and had five transfusions. At one stage she was bleeding internally so badly that blood seeped into her eyes, causing the loss of vision in one eye and compromising the other.
Trish, who is extremely grateful to Disco and Jenny, and to all the other blood donors involved in Skylar’s recovery, is hopeful things will keep on improving for her beloved labradoodle.