The foxhounds at Carrollton Hounds Kennels know who Dr. Ann Schneider and her assistant Tristin Buckstad are and what they're there for.
Still, the hounds' baying at the visitors can be heard some distance away until Bob Shirley, a hunt master, arrives and quiets them. Once quiet, 11 hounds are chosen, one by one, to donate blood to Schneider's Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank for canines.
Schneider, a veterinarian who operates the canine blood bank in Annapolis, spent a day three weeks ago making her monthly trip to the Carrollton Hounds Kennels outside Hampstead to draw blood from a group of the club's 39 hounds.
The kennel has been involved in the dog blood donor program since September 1999, said Holly Wills, the club's huntsman. About 30 of the club's hounds give blood every other month on a rotating basis.
"It was amazing how well they took to it the first time," Wills said.
Petey, a 6-year-old foxhound with one blue eye and one brown eye, lay on a small table, contentedly snuggled in Buckstad's arms, as Schneider gently inserted a needle into the hound's jugular vein to take blood.
When Petey had finished, he had given a half-pint of blood, which Schneider would take back to her office to be separated into red blood cells and plasma.
"Petey could give a full pint, but because he's 6, this will probably be his last time as a donor," Schneider said, marking his donation on a chart.
Dogs, like humans, need blood when they've been in an accident, need surgery or are anemic. Schneider's Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank is one of three major blood banks for dogs in the country and the only one that takes blood strictly on a volunteer basis, she said. The other two blood banks keep their dogs for donors.
Any breed of dog can use blood from any other breed. Schneider takes blood from donor dogs, then sells it to veterinarians in need of blood for their canine patients.
"One donation will benefit two sick dogs. We're always back- ordered - the blood doesn't stay in Annapolis very long. Blood goes across the country, and sometimes even out of the country," Schneider said.
Which is one reason the Hampstead club is so active in the dog blood bank.
"I thought it was a good program to get into because it gives back to the community for dogs who have been hit by a car or need an operation," said Wills.
It is advantageous for the hounds to give blood.
"If our kennel would need blood, Ann would ship us blood," Wills said. "And the physical exam she gives shows up problems so we can take care of them. We had one dog with a kidney problem and one with a heart problem that Ann picked up on."
Before the donation, Schneider examines each hound's color, lymph nodes, heart, lungs and abdomen. About every six months, she checks donors for infectious diseases and general health. She also is familiar with each hound's behavior, so if an animal isn't acting normally, she makes a note and probably won't take blood from it that day.
The hounds are fed before and after donating. If the hound squirms too much or seems unhappy as he is prepared to donate, Schneider won't follow through with the procedure.
"It's a gentle hold on the dog we have and if the dog doesn't like it, if the dog isn't happy, then we won't take the blood," Schneider said.
"You see what a good bedside manner these two ladies have with the hounds," said Shirley, the hunt master.
Petey was a prime example of the vet's abilities, lying peacefully on his side, his eyes closed, in Buckstad's arms as Schneider held the needle in his neck with one hand and rubbed his belly with the other, all the while murmuring baby talk to him.
Drawing the blood takes a couple of minutes. But the exam, prepping, then checking the insertion point for bleeding adds up to as much as 20 minutes for each hound so that 12 to 15 animals can take several hours.
On this visit, Schneider got 11 units of blood from Carrollton foxhounds.
"They all did great," Schneider said.