Your dog can help saving lives of other dogs by volunteering! And might end up saving his/her own in the process. This is the Story of Ruby who volunteered to help vets learn more about ultra sound and ended up saving her own life!
Everything looked perfectly normal
When Ruby’s mum Margret was searching her Facebook posts she came across an invitation to volunteer her dog for the VetPrac Ultrasound Training Program for Veterinarians. Little did she know she was about to save Ruby’s life.
Ruby came to the training facility and was checked over by the general vet doing admissions. Her mum was asked about her history (no problems) and since Ruby had never been sick, there was nothing to worry about. The veterinarian performed a thorough examination and listened to Ruby’s heart, checked her glands, and felt her body and belly for lumps and bumps and everything looked and felt and sounded normal. Ruby’s mum went off to enjoy her day leaving contact details in case they were needed.
Ruby was about to be a superhero. As far as she knew, her job for the day was to lie still and get cuddles but for the veterinarians and countless animals she was helping, she was doing a lot more.
After having a little cannula put into her front leg, she had her belly clipped of fur and was allowed to rest and relax while the veterinarians prepared to learn from her. She sat in a comfy bed and was given pats and walks by the supporting team of veterinary students and nurses.
When it was her turn to shine, she was placed on a soft padded table and lay on her side. One veterinarian patted her and fed her treats while the other veterinarian examined her internal organs with an ultrasound.
Her kidneys were normal and the veterinarian learning could appreciate the size, shape, edges and structure of the kidneys through the image created by the ultrasound machine. The veterinarian was able to manipulate the image using technology and see blood flowing through the kidneys and measure it as well. The veterinarian became a better veterinarian in under an hour, because Ruby was there to help.
But something was hiding…
The next practical session was to check the spleen and the veterinarian examining her this time noticed something different. A small little spot, deep within the spleen appeared abnormal. The veterinarian who had just learned from the specialist educator about the normal spleen knew what she was seeing wasn’t normal from her training and asked the specialist to have a look.
She was right. Once again, Ruby had helped a veterinarian become better. But more importantly than that, Ruby’s condition was identified well before she even knew about it and felt unwell.
The general veterinarian who examined Ruby at the beginning of the day contacted Ruby’s mum and then their regular vet. Both were surprised. Ruby came back on the second day of training, she was given a little sedation to help her belly muscles relax more comfortably and the vet scanned all her organs. The only one with the abnormality was the spleen.
Full recovery after surgery
On Monday she went back to her regular vet, who performed blood tests and other examinations as well as a second ultrasound scan to confirm the diagnosis in a clinical (rather than teaching) environment.
Ruby had a splenic tumour. She was operated on later that week and has lived for years very healthily, never having experienced the problems associated with that cancer and the effects of it spreading to other parts of her body.
All the veterinarians who learned from her and the other 10 dogs who volunteered with her that day now have the skills to help more animals every day when they go to work. They use their ultrasound machine daily so they can find the causes of vomiting and belly pain without performing surgery. They find and see tumours with new technology that their hands cannot feel because the organs are big, and sometimes a problem is deep within them. They are also able to respond quickly in emergencies because Ruby and other volunteer dogs come to hang out and let the vets learn in a safe environment supported by specialists and other vets.