When I went through vet school we kept a group of teaching dogs in the small animal hospital. These dogs were resident blood donors, and used for teaching labs in cardiology, ophthalmology, theriogenology, and so forth. During the school year, first year vet students give them daily walks and attention. During the summer, students are hired to work in the hospital to make up for the lack of students on rotations, and these students spend a fair bit of time with the resident dogs – giving them baths, doing their routine check ups, restraining them when they give blood, and so on.
Backing up a bit, yes – dogs give blood. So do cats, for that matter. Dogs have blood types, and there are universal donors, and transfusion medicine in dogs is not all that different compared to humans. OVC has a client blood donor program, and the resident blood donors helped fill gaps or give in emergency situations if a particular product was in need immediately and in short supply.
After my first year, I worked in the small animal hospital for the summer. While I was working there they brought in a few new resident dogs. One of them was an utterly adorable rottweiller mix named Ollie. I spent a lot of my summer getting him used to walking on a leash, training him to sit before someone entered his run, and basically falling in love.
The summer after my second year I went back to work in the small animal hospital. The first years had done a bad job with him and he was back to barking and jumping when people came near his run, and he’d become very mouthy… so I spent the summer training the bad habits back out of him, and just falling further in love.
Ollie was a FANTASTIC teaching dog. He was an absolute prostar blood donor – he would stay nice and still and be so good that when he was used as a demo dog for blood collection for fourth year students they’d ask what he was sedated with. So when word came that they had to get rid of the resident dogs, the staff definitely wanted to foster Ollie out to a home where they knew they would still be able to get him in for blood collection and labs. Ollie had quite the waiting list of people who were interested in adopting him, but the staff knew me and knew he was my favourite so I got first dibs.
Now, I have always been a “crazy cat lady”. I love dogs, but I never had any interest in having my own dog. Didn’t really fit my lifestyle, to be honest. So if even 6 months earlier someone had asked me if I’d adopt a dog, I would have said no. . .
But I loved Ollie. I loved him since the moment I met him. Bonus: I was now living in a walk out basement apartment with a HUGE fenced yard. My landlords had a dog, and as long as Ollie was good with their children (in case they ran into each other in the yard), they were okay with me. So I took him into my home as a foster dog, and eventually adopted him 100% as my own. And I’ve never really regretted it.
Now, Ollie has spoiled me for any other dog. He is basically me, in dog form. He loves to nap, and snuggle on the couch with a movie. He never complains if we haven’t played outside in days as long as he gets lots of cuddles. However, he loves to play outside. He can go on 5 hour hikes, he can play in the snow for ages. He LOVES snow. He loves to swim as well. Even when he didn’t know how to swim, he loved water. He is great about staying in his kennel while I’m at work, and he never has accidents no matter how long I get stuck at work. He is a charmer, loves people and wins over even the most anti-dog of my friends. He was super easy to train, and he’s certainly not perfect but we get by. If I actually put effort into training him, he’d be prostar. . . but I’m lazy and not really good at training. He generally sits when I ask, and lays down with some coaxing. He almost always eventually comes when I call. And he’d do anything for a squeaky toy, so at least I know his weakness!
He still gives blood from time to time, and helped one of my patients with a splenic mass recover from surgery with his blood donation. That dog’s tumor was very serious, and the pathologist gave her 4 months to live. . . she lived 9 months, because she had Ollie’s super awesome blood, I’d say.
His favourite thing is to get up on a couch or bed that is already crowded with people, so he can maximize his cuddles. He loves cookies, and french fries. He likes to wallow in puddles on a warm day. Squeaky toys drive him crazy. He doesn’t really like people feet, but he like to put his feet on people. It’s his favourite way to request attention. He’s a complete whore for attention, and has many “favourites” amongst my friends. Basically, if you think you’re his favourite… he will break your heart eventually. It makes his day to have visitors, and he will get some jealous if you pay attention to the cats instead. He LOVES cats, but my cats don’t so much love him. He loses his mind when he comes to work with me and he gets to sniff a sedated kitty that can’t run away.
He’s my “little” snugglebug, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. I don’t think I will ever have another dog, because I could never be as lucky as I have been with Ollie, and deep down inside I’m still a crazy cat lady.