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Tag: Dogs

Pet Organ Transplants

If you are like me, you love dogs. I love the dogs have at home, that I meet at the dog park, and that I meet on the street. In fact, I have been told I may have a problem. Because when I say, “I love this dog!” I get only one response from my wife and my friends. Pretty much whoever is with me.

“You love all dogs!”

It’s pretty much true. There are limits though, even though my current pup is the dog I have spoiled the most. But he is a German Shepherd with a delicate stomach and the kindest, most loyal disposition of any dog I’ve ever had.

People love dogs too and will go to extraordinary lengths to save or extend their lives. Pet insurance has become a standard offering, much like human health insurance. As more dogs are insured, medical science in veterinary practice also gets more sophisticated. Chipping your dogs, having DNA testing, cancer screening, prevention, treatment, and surgery all come into play.

But while doing my research for Harvested, I came across something even more astounding and sophisticated. Pet organ transplants.

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not read Harvested yet, go grab it and read it now before you finish this post. Otherwise, it will spoil one part of the plot for you. Here’s the link in case you need it. Buy on Amazon.

The Pet Medical Industry

Not only do we love our pets, but there is a lot of money involved in their care. It’s become a huge industry, from nutrition to massage to grooming and other essentials. Allergy testing, new vaccinations, and new medications are emerging all the time. That, and the pet medical insurance industry is booming. What this means to pet owners is that big pharma and other research companies are working harder than ever to provide sophisticated and expensive pet medications and surgeries.

Studies are being conducted similar to human medication trials, All that research is expensive, labels need to be crafted and meet regulations, and vets and pet owners need to be educated about what is available.

Pet Organ Transplants

One of the more sophisticated things being developed is organ transplants. We already know that sometimes, pig organs are compatible with humans, and can even organs from other animals may be substituted if human organs are unavailable. But there is also a huge human organ donor base. When many people pass on, they elect to donate what of their organs are viable for another person.

The organ transplant list for animals started with cats. There are a few simple reasons for that. Kidney disease in cats is quite common, an if left untreated, fatal. An organ transplant can save them at a cost of $12,000 to $15,000 if there are no complications. If complications do arise, the cost can go higher.

Donor cats are not hard to find. Most shelters have a large selection, and like humans, cats can live with one kidney. So usually the deal is that the owner, if the surgery is successful, actually goes home with two cats rather than the one they came with: the donor and the recipient. The donor cat essentially trades one of its organs for a permanent, loving home.

The cost of transplants is prohibitive for most owners, but with the right pet insurance, you could have to pay a deductible and then part of the surgery out of pocket.

Around 84% of donor cats had no follow-up problems in a study by the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Only 7% had serious or fatal complications. Those odds are good, but not ideal.

Dog Organ Transplants

Canine organ transplants are much rarer. While certain breeds have a propensity toward kidney disease, there are fewer matching donors. Part of the reason is that donor dogs are harder to match unless the donor is related to the recipient pretty closely. This is where fiction takes over, but it is something that is not too far fetched. Ready for your spoiler?

There is a theory, although an obscure one, that mutts might be the best source of organs for transplant: the mix of several breeds could make them more universal donors. Of course, mixed breeds are the most plentiful of dogs, so if true, this could open up a new avenue of organ sources. But at least initially this process would be experimental, and finding dogs to put into the study, especially if there was a high demand, might be more of a challenge. Success rates and survival rates for donor dogs would be lower as well, at least in theory.

The solution, at least a partial one, might be a dognapping scheme like the one outlined in Harvested. The big money involved might be motive enough for researchers to take matters into their own hands. Add in a little organized crime and some crooked vets, and voila!

The Truth Behind the Fiction

There is no canine transplant clinic in Maine or in Seattle. There have been odd disappearances of dogs in various areas for various reasons in the past, but often unless they are a certain breed that is valuable, there is little that police can and will do. The exception is if they suspect a dog fighting ring, in which case there is a sterner investigation.

There are P.I.’s who specialize in pets, the truth that is behind the Ace Ventura story: people will go through a lot to get their dogs back if they are lost and missing as well. So while there is some truth in the plot to Harvested, there is some fictoin there as well.

What do you think about pet organ transplants, pet insurance, and other such issues? Let me know in the comments below.

The post Pet Organ Transplants appeared first on Max Boucher.

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It’s Not The Dog; It’s You

How many times have you heard pet owners scold their dog in an angry voice?

“Bad dog, what have you done?”

Most often than not, the dog, taking its cue from the tone of the voice, manages to look guilty. Dogs are great in this; they do look like they’re genuinely sorry for the mayhem they’ve caused. However, back to the topic of bad dogs. What is really a bad dog?

As a pet owner, you need to know that you’re responsible for your pet’s behavior. It’s fair to say that you can’t control everything they do, but more often than not there is a causality link between a good dog and a skilled pet owner. Indeed, next time you are scolding your pet for chewing your shoes or breaking furniture you need to ask yourself what you should have done to prevent it in the first place. Yep, the truth is that there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.

Your dog bites someone

The golden rule that every pet owner needs to remember is that whatever your dog does, you are responsible. For instance, if you take your dog to a friend’s house and your pet accidentally breaks something, your friend might expect you to pay for the damage. Similarly, if your dog attacks someone, you will be the first in line to face the law – and it’s crucial that you work with experts on this instance. Indeed, if you’re involved in a dog-related incident, you should let this firm solve your legal problems. Similarly, if your dog is the one facing charges, finding an expert who can talk and negotiate with the legal representant of the victim can not only help to manage expenses but also potentially save your dog’s life.  

Lyme disease is a real risk

You might have heard of Lyme disease as an infectious disease caused by ticks which can lead to fever, headache, chronic tiredness, and even facial nerve paralysis. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the most common tick-related disease. Ticks, unfortunately, are everywhere. It’s not uncommon to get bitten while you were taking a stroll in the woodland. But, it’s precise because they know ticks are present in nature that most people use preventative sprays to deter bugs. But don’t forget that ticks can also jump on your dog and then affect you in your home when you’re at your most vulnerable. Don’t blame it on the dog, though! It’s your role to keep the fleas off the back of your furry friend, using shampoos and consistent grooming. Ultimately, flea control protects both your dog and your family from Lyme disease!

The dog ate my favorite shoes

Puppies are just as sweet as they are destructive. They can leave an expensive path of damages behind them! For first-time pet owners, it’s a harsh wake-up call. Indeed, the adorable ball of fluff they’ve chosen to adopt is a heartless shoe-chewer. And it was your favorite and most expensive pair! What is wrong with the dog? Nothing is wrong with your puppy. Some dogs like to keep your smell close by when you leave them alone during the day. Others might have developed bad habits from a young age – and it’s your fault! You need to train your dog not to eat your belongings. The first rule is not to offer your dog an old shoe to play with; he won’t be able to tell the difference between your expensive Italian leather pumps and the old sneaker you gave him. Additionally, you need the patience to train him out of a bad habit, using positive rewards only!

Train the dog to chew his toys

Your dog barks to communicate, so listen

Bad dog, will you stop barking?

No, he won’t. So you need to understand what your dog is trying to tell you instead of scolding him. Dogs need to communicate, and barking is one of their favorite methods. It’s their language, and while you only hear an irritating noise, you have to imagine that your dog is using words to talk to you. The problem is that you haven’t learned how to speak dog. Therefore, you need to unravel the mystery to help him: Why does he bark? Some dogs bark because they want something from you, others are anxious about a situation, and others are just excited. Decypher the emotion through the context to react accordingly and stop scolding your pet.

More often than not, pet owners who fail to take responsibility for their pet can face a lot of issues, from legal complications is the dog becomes aggressive to expensive damages at home. The better you understand and train your pet, the easier it is to transform your bad dog into a good boy that everybody loves!

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Houston: No More Problems

January 1999

It was a horrible time. I was confused, depressed, and felt rejected by family, friends, and seriously doubted my sanity. Good things came out of that time: I found the woman I am married to still, I started writing again, and I got a new dog. For nearly 10 years, he was one of my best friends.

A friend offered me a room for rent in Prescott, Arizona. She came to pick me up from where I was staying in Phoenix, and had a dog with her. He had no place to sit for the hour and a half journey but on my lap. A friendship started. One eventually filled with hours of fetch, walks, petting, and old age.

Houston was a mutt. I’m not sure how old he was when I got him, and different vets had different guesses, but he was about 3 or 4. I’m sure he was abused, by the way he flinched the first time I grabbed a broom. He didn’t like to be inside much, preferring the freedom and the smells of the outdoors. But that dog would fetch anything I threw, and play the game until I made him stop. His nose was amazing. I even got him one of these.

HyperdogNovember 28, 2008

It was my birthday. Black Friday, and Houston is almost blind. We were living down the street from Walmart. He still played fetch, still managed to find his way around, but this morning he got out of the back yard, and I couldn’t find him.


Someone already had. A lady in a Toyota, on her way to find a bargain. She hit him, and took him to the humane society down the road. At least she did that much. He didn’t make it.

My other dog, a lab named Indy, helped me deal with Houston’s passing. It took me a long time to get over it.

September 2012

I was challenged to write a novel. It turned into a thriller about a man and a dog. The whole time I wrote it, I thought of Houston, and how much he helped me through a dark time in my life. A dog named Sparky jumped out of my imagination and onto the page.

March 2014

Stray Ally will be released this spring by Tirgearr Publishing. A strange accident on the freeway, accusations of murder, and an encounter in the Idaho wilderness all propel Todd Clarke into a new friendship with a dog named Sparky. But Sparky is no ordinary dog, and there is more going on than Clarke could have imagined.

A military commander he investigated for Aryan activity and links to domestic terrorism is after him, and he’s not sure why until another chance encounter provides the answer.

With Sparky and the help of his canine friends, will he be able to figure out the Colonel’s plan and stop him in time? All Clarke knows for sure is none of it would be possible without the help of his Stray Ally.

And now, when you read the dedication, you will understand who I am talking about.

To my dog, Houston. You were my best friend for a long time, and have been gone for a while, but I still miss you. Here’s hoping you are chasing a ball somewhere in doggie heaven, where there is no more doggie blindness and your nose is a strong as ever.


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