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A Vet's Perspective: Solving a Dog's Mysterious Illness


It took an astute pathologist to set me straight. “Rocky has ‘Pelger-Huet Anomaly.’ It’s a genetic disorder of dogs, particularly seen in Australian Shepherds, Foxhounds and, of course, Samoyeds. It can make certain white blood cells look all wrong, even though they function fine. Affected dogs should be perfectly healthy. So long as you know what it is, you won’t mistake it for an infection or, worse still, a condition like leukemia.”

I contacted Joanna to tell her the good news. “For all the wrong reasons, Rocky sent me on a wild goose chase and we ended up finding his problem after all.” Some six months later, Joanna sent me a photo of Rocky celebrating his 12th birthday. “He’s doing great, never looked back,” she told me.

And on hearing this news, I dared to ask my question about Rocky’s burden of guilt. “All I know,” she said, “is Rocky loves life. Perhaps John’s greatest legacy was saving a dog that could come out of such a horrific tragedy and still be warm, loving and fearless. He is the biggest bundle of unconditional love you could ever hope to have in your life.”

Sounds like living large to me.



Nick Trout is a Diplomate of the American and European Colleges of Veterinary Surgeons and a staff surgeon at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. facebook.com/DrNickTrout

Photo by Chris Hellyar

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