The world seems to wake up from a long, cold slumber in those first warm days of spring. Along with the return of birds and fresh blooms, other wildlife comes out of hibernation after long months. Sometimes, that can present a problem for pet owners.
As wonderful as springtime can be, it can also lead to an increase in wildlife interactions that result in surprise visits to the veterinarian. Insects, spiders and snakes can all cause painful bites. Then, there are more unconventional tussles with the natural world, such as this story involving a Doberman named Shadow. Here’s his story.
The perfect pair of pooches
Mary and Bruce S. adopted Shadow to accompany them in their retirement years. A handsome Doberman, Shadow was the perfect companion for their other Doberman mix, Samantha. The pair quickly connected and became inseparable, chasing one another around in the backyard of their Rhode Island home.
“They can play rough, but they are best friends, and they work as a team.” Mary laughs. “If something seems suspicious, Shadow barks an alarm bark for Samantha. Samantha will immediately come and take care of business.”
The pair had their routine down very well. On that fateful day, Shadow and Samantha went off to explore in the backyard like they normally do, until an unusually large critter from the woods surprised them both.
A ‘masked intruder’ from the woods
Mary was going about her business on what seemed like an uneventful spring morning when she heard Shadow’s alarm bark. She went out on the back deck to check on the dogs and saw, to her astonishment, both Samantha and Shadow rushing back toward the house.
Behind them was an immense, hulking raccoon in hot pursuit.
“We've been in this house 25 years and we've never seen a raccoon,” Mary recalls.
She remembers being amazed by how Samantha ran, seeing as how she usually doesn’t run from a challenge.
Fortunately for the pooches, the raccoon saw Mary on the deck and hid underneath. This change in the situation allowed her to get both dogs inside for a close examination. She was worried about what had set them running, and the potential for a dangerous conflict that occurred before she intervened. Aside from a few small scratches, they seemed to have escaped unhurt.
Mary reached out to the authorities at the Department of Environmental Management to inform them of her startling wildlife experience. Knowing raccoons can carry rabies and other dangerous diseases, she then drove both dogs to the veterinarian for an emergency exam.
Luckily, both Shadow and Samantha appeared to be unscathed for the most part. Samantha had a small mark on her nose—likely a bite or scratch—for which she received a booster rabies shot, even though she was up to date on her vaccinations.
“I looked at Shadow and I didn't see anything,” Mary recalls. Both pooches left the veterinary clinic with a clean bill of health. Unfortunately, that comfort didn’t last long.
A surprising scratch
“We got home at about a quarter after nine [that night], and I see [Shadow] licking himself. Well, sure enough he had a wound that was not at first visible that was on his shoulder,” Mary says.
The next morning, Mary brought Shadow in for a second exam. She remembers, “[The veterinarian] realized the wound was more severe than it looked. They put him under anesthesia as they really wanted to clean it out.
“Though the scratch looked minor, the skin was actually torn away from the muscle underneath the skin and required stitches,” Mary adds.
Fortunately, both pups quickly recovered from their scrap with the raccoon. But Mary had questions after the experience that weren’t so easily resolved—like why Shadow got involved with the raccoon at all.
“He is a bit of a wimp … one time he got concerned and barked an alarm over a piece of rope,” Mary says. “I really firmly believe that he was protecting Samantha, like ‘I don't want to do this, but I'm not going to let anything happen to you’…. I found out raccoons can be vicious if they have rabies or are protecting their kits, so this raccoon must have been serious about hurting them.”
How Nationwide helped
An unexpected trip to the veterinarian for something seemingly minor can quickly become costly, which is why Mary and Bruce decided early on that they wanted to be protected from the unexpected.
“Over 30 years, I have had previous experience [with Dobermans] and other dogs. Shadow and Samantha are our 6th and 7th…. When we got Shadow, we immediately signed him up with Nationwide. We absolutely love Nationwide pet insurance,” Mary says.
She continues, “I'm going to tell you right up front, I recommend [Nationwide] to everybody. If you own pets, you never know what can happen even when you are very careful! We don't have to make a decision … because of price…. We have all 3 of our dogs covered by Nationwide.”