Going to the dogs in Hertford

Published 8:46 pm Wednesday, April 30, 2014

By Frank Roberts

Sure, you love-love-love your dog, but do you love it several thousand dollars’ worth? That is how much Tammy and Steve Lane of Hertford, N.C., have spent on their German shepherd, Brina, and the costs continue to mount.

The handsome 9-year-old animal has many physical problems, but her owners are nowhere near giving up. They don’t think about it. They just keep the limping animal as happy and healthy as possible and, watching him romp about, you realize their efforts are working.

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“The treatments won’t cure her,” Steve Lane said, “but they make her feel better.”

The problems are multitudinous. She has an infection of the spinal cord and hip dysplasia.

Brina, whose name means “defender,” spends a lot of tail-wagging time with veterinarians helping to ease her symptoms and see if they can track down the root cause of her problems.

“She goes twice a week for a cold laser treatment,” Lane said. “It’s a healing mechanism, like massage therapy. It also helps with her blood circulation. She won’t be healed, but the problems will be slowed down.”

“Her attitude is perfect, outstanding,” he added. “Sometimes she seems heavy in thought — some days she just stares a lot, like she’s thinking. She loves going to the vets. She knows she’s being helped. She goes straight to the room where she’s being treated.”

Lane said that she goes in wagging her tail and comes out with tail still wagging.

Brina’s best pal is a 9-year-old Weimaraner. She, too, has had her problems, having survived cancer.

Dakota is the dog Lanes’ customers see most often, running up to them, giving them the sniff test and then settling back in a favorite chair.

Dakota is also a cadaver dog, an expert at locating dead bodies — “a trailing dog who can continue on a trail no matter how long it takes,” said Lane, who, often with wife Tammy, travels far and wide with their expert sniffer.

When the Lanes are not putting out money to vets for Brina, they are putting out money for those volunteer efforts with Dakota. “Rescue work is costly, about $1,000 a year for hotels, gas — and, there’s time off from work. Of course, the rewards are great. You feel good helping people,” said Lane, who has been doing search-and-rescue for six years.

Training him for the work took three years, although, Lane said, “the training never stops; it’s ongoing.”

Dakota has been trained for more leisurely things, as well, such as conversation. “She understands about 35 words.”

Words are the Lanes’ business. They own Inteliport, an Internet service provider, a high-speed communications company. They are my bosses when I return to my radio roots every Saturday for about 90 minutes as a disc jockey playing swing, western swing, novelties, and so on.

I am often accompanied by background chirps from Tweettweet the parakeet, who keeps me company in a cage next to the microphone. The couple also have a parrot named Katie, “who says everything,” Lane said.

“In the past 15 years she’s cussed very little. She whistles the theme from “The Andy Griffith Show,” and she yells at the dogs when they bark. She tells them to shut up — she says ‘you be quiet.’”

And there is Isabelle, a cat from a nearby animal shelter — so-named because it became orphaned after a certain hurricane. Another cat is Missy.

The family lives in downtown Hertford.

It is oft said that the world is going to the dogs. I say: Good!

During a 60-year career spanning newspapers, radio and television, Frank Roberts has been there and done that. Today, he’s doing it in retirement from North Carolina, but he continues to keep an eye set on Suffolk and an ear cocked on country music. Email him at froberts73@embarqmail.com.