Leo the Lab Finds Healing at MSU-CVM By Samantha Gibson

Jackson, Miss.-native Will Cobb wasn’t necessarily interested in becoming a pet owner at the age of 21, but when he first met Leo, a seven-week-old puppy, Cobb felt a strong bond and he knew they were meant to be forever friends.

Cobb’s youth minister’s lab had had a litter of puppies, and Cobb’s family chose to bring home a little white lab—Leo. Leo was originally supposed to be Cobb’s sister’s dog, but Cobb immediately fell in love with the friendly, energetic puppy.

“It only took an hour or two before I claimed him for myself,” Cobb said.

“It only took an hour or two before I claimed him for myself,” Cobb said.

Now, Leo is seven and “the king of the household,” said Camille Kee, Cobb’s girlfriend. The couple has two other dogs, but Leo is the only who sleeps upstairs.

Leo is usually full of energy, and loves running and playing with toys. Cobb knew something was wrong his beloved dog when Leo began breathing abnormally hard and fast.

“He was still a happy dog, and as sweet as can be, but you could tell everything he did was suddenly labored. He hadn’t been eating well, and didn’t want to go outside as much,” Cobb said.

Now, Leo is seven and “the king of the household,” said Camille Kee, Cobb’s girlfriend. The couple has two other dogs, but Leo is the only who sleeps upstairs.

Concerned, Cobb and Kee took Leo to the Animal Emergency and Referral Center (AERC) in Flowood, Miss., where Leo was diagnosed with respiratory distress and an infection of the chest cavity. The AERC is an affiliate of the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

“They told us that he had a lot of fluid in his chest cavity. It was a complete shock to us,” Cobb said.

Leo’s chest was rapidly filling with more fluid, so AERC veterinarians referred Leo to MSU’s Animal Health Center. Cobb and Kee immediately drove Leo the two and a half hours from Jackson to Starkville, as they would multiple times during the week of Leo’s treatment.

“It was a no brainer on bringing him to Starkville,” Cobb said.

Once they arrived at MSU, Leo’s respiratory distress was dire. He was immediately transferred to the ICU, where he received a CT scan. After consulting with Leo’s medical team, led by small animal surgery faculty member Dr. Elizabeth Swanson, Cobb and Kee decided to send Leo to surgery, in hopes of finding and removing the source of his infection.

The surgery was a success, and the source of Leo’s infection was removed.

Madison Wilson, a third-year vet student who was also a part of Leo’s medical team, was thrilled with Leo’s recovery.

“I met Leo when he was transferred over to the small animal surgery service and I immediately fell in love with him– everyone did,” Wilson said. “Leo is very handsome, and incredibly sweet. He was wagging his tail the day after having major thoracic surgery. He was a champ!”

Dr. Swanson, student Madison Wilson, Will Cobb, Leo, Camille Lee

Wilson, who spent a lot of time with Leo during his week at the Animal Health Center, found it very rewarding to be a part of his recovery, and smiles just talking about the dog.

“He is just a good ‘ole labrador with a big smile, great manners, and he never gave us any trouble during treatments,” Wilson said. “Being able to see a very sick patient go to surgery, wake up happy, recover without complications, and then go home acting five years younger is one of the most rewarding things I have experienced in vet school thus far.”

Cobb and Kee both agreed Leo was acting like a puppy again, and were impressed with how popular he was with Animal Health Center staff—before they left, Leo had to do a lap around the building, to say goodbye to everyone who had helped him heal after his surgery.

“He is acting like he is back to normal and wants to go run around and play and have fun, but we are still waiting on his chest to fully heal, so he stuck taking it easy for a few more weeks,” Cobb said. “I really can't thank Madison and Dr. Swanson and the rest of the staff enough for taking care of him and letting him love on them.”

Leo Goes Home!

Credits:

Tom Thompson, Photographic Coordinator, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University

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