Feature Articles

Volume 3, Number 3

Springers Working for the U.S. Coast Guard

Ask the Vet

Editors note: On July 30, 2001 this post appeared under the title of "Brag from a proud Mom" on the ESS-L2 chat list. We, at The Springer Showcase felt it was such a lovely tribute to the versatility and temparment of our breed that we asked if we could re-publish the story in The Springer Showcase, this time with pictures. Joan agreed to let us re-publish and offers this thought "Most of the Springers that I have met are such bright dogs. Maybe seeing this article will give other Springer lovers some ideas for expanding their dog's potential". We agree - ENJOY!


Please pardon the blatant braggadocios nature of this post, but I am just so proud of my two Springers I could burst.


Both of my dogs, "C.J.", Ch. Aspen's Midnight Serenade, and "Sam", Aspen's Natural Dancer, are trained not only to be beautiful show animals, but also to be public service dogs. My husband and I have been working with the dogs for two years to teach them the skills necessary for work with the general public. In June we had a successful trial run with C.J. at a local public safety fair. This weekend, we hit the big time (at least in a local sense:-) ). All the branches of the U.S. military, along with numerous veterans groups put on an Exposition for the general public at Fort Snelling, our local military base in Minneapolis, MN. Approximately 11,000 people a day visited the event.

On Sunday, C.J. and Sam were the "draw" to the Coast Guard display. The dogs worked alternating half hour shifts going through a routine that is designed to help children and adults remember to wear their life jackets while boating. The dogs' dove into custom made Coast Guard doggy life jackets, barked answers to boating safety question, and did tricks to prove that "you can have fun while wearing a life jacket". Over the course of the day the dogs shook hands with somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 kids. We think nearly 1,500 people stopped to watch the show.

The dogs clearly enjoyed themselves. As one dog performed, the other dog rested in our air-conditioned motor home. As I switched out the dogs, the rested dog would leap out of the motor home door and head straight for the staging area, me in tow. C.J. was especially enthusiastic. Her third time out,she ran up to the staging area then turned around to bark at me to hurry up and put her life jacket on. She carried on so, talking and woo-wooing, that she attracted quite a large crowd for that performance.

The highlight of my day came when a young boy of about eleven walked up to the booth and said "That's C.J. isn't it? I saw her at the Burnsville public safety fair a month ago". Right then and there I knew we were doing something that made a lasting impression, hopefully contributing to the Coast Guard's safe boating efforts and at the same time showcasing our wonderful and smart English Springer Spaniels.


Signed, a very proud "Mom",

Joan Beck

Starlight Springers


Editors note: In speaking with a number of Springer owners at the National this disease came to my attention. I think it is worth saving a Springer life for everyone to be informed on this disease. So our "Ask the Vet" segment is devoted to this information from the 5 Minute Veterinary Consult on actinomycosis.


An infectious disease caused by gram-positive, branching, pleomorphic, rod-shaped bacteria of the genus Actinomyces A. viscosus-most commonly identified; survives in microaerophilic or anaerobic conditions Rarely found as the single bacterial agent in a lesion; more commonly, it is a component of a polymicrobial infection. There may be synergism between Actinomyces and other organisms.


Dogs and cats

Especially common in young male dogs of sporting breeds


Infections-usually localized; may be disseminated; cervicofacial area commonly involved Cutaneous swellings or abscesses with draining tracts-yellow granules ("sulfur granules") may be seen in associated exudates.

Pain and fever.

Exudative pleural or peritoneal effusions. Retroperitonitis-in one study, Actinomyces was identified in 3 of 34 affected dogs. Osteomyelitis of vertebrae or long bones-probably secondary to extension of cutaneous infection; lameness or a swollen extremity may develop. Motor and sensory deficits-reported with spinal cord compression by granulomas.


Actinomyces spp.-normal inhabitants of the oral cavity of dogs and cats Loss of normal protective barriers (mucosa, skin), immuno-suppression, or change in the bacterial microenvironment could predispose animals; thought to occur as an opportunistic infection Specific risk factors-trauma (bite wound), migrating foreign body (foxtail in the western U.S.), and periodontal disease.


Nocardiosis-primary differential diagnosis; Actinomyces not reliably distinguished from Nocardia spp. by gram staining, cytology, or clinical signs. Other causes of chronic draining tracts and pleural or peritoneal effusions must be addressed.


Leukocytosis with a left shift and monocytosis-common Nonregenerative anemia-may develop Hypoglycemia and hyperglobulinemia-common.



Radiographs of infected bone-periosteal new bone production, reactive osteosclerosis, and osteolysis.


Pus or osteolytic bone fragments submitted in anaerobic specimen containers for culture-see Anaerobic Infections; provides the only definitive diagnosis; inform the lab to check for actinomycosis. Fresh smears-gram staining, cytology, and acid-fast staining; staining does not preclude the need for culture; Actinomyces does not stain acid-fast; Nocardia is variable.


Histopathologic examination-not reliable for distinguishing actinomycosis from nocardiosis; useful diagnostic tool, especially with sulfur granules; may demonstrate pyogranulomatous or granulomatous cellulitis with colonies of filamentous bacteria.


Drain abscesses and lavage for several days; leave lesions open for continued drainage; Penrose drains may be needed. Bony involvement-May need to débride or remove bone Surgical resection of tissue-not needed in all cases


It is important to distinguish between Actinomyces and Nocardia for appropriate antimicrobial selection Antibiotics-a retrospective study suggests administration for a minimum of 3-4 months after resolution of all signs; may need to be directed against other associated microbes Penicillin G-considered to be reliable; specific recommendations for duration of therapy are not determined; try 65,000 U/kg q8h Metronidazole-avoid use; actinomycosis unlikely to respond Aminoglycosides-do not use; ineffective against anaerobic infections A. hordeovulneris-cell-wall deficient variant (L-phase); does not usually respond well to penicillin; consider clindamycin, erythromycin, and chloramphenicol



Redevelopment of infection at the initial site may be expected in about half of all cases. Monitor patients closely, recurrence in the months after discontinuation of therapy.


Suggested Readings

Edwards DF. Actinomycosis and nocardiosis. In: Greene CE, ed. Infectious diseases of the dog and cat.Philadelphia: Saunders, 1998:303-313.


Author Sharon K. Fooshee

Consulting Editor Stephen C. Barr

Copyright 2000 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Reprinted with permission.





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