The saga of getting spit out of dogs continues. Why is it so hard? My roommate’s dog Stella will drool enormous strings of spit whilst contemplating our dinners, but I can’t get a sufficient sample out of her when I swab her mouth. I actually convinced someone who had written a peer-reviewed article about collecting saliva from dogs to have a phone conversation with me. She provided technique suggestions. These seemed to help quite a bit for a few weeks, but then I recently went through a run with about ten dry dogs in a row. Maybe it was all just chance?
My response to the run of dry dogs has been to frantically attempt to enroll more dogs. (The time when we need to be done collecting data is rapidly approaching.) Advisor feels that this is not the right approach, though, as she has to stay late after work to perform our stress-reduction intervention (or placebo) on these dogs, and she wishes not to stay late after work until the end of time. This is understandable.
On Advisor’s advice, I have constructed a mix of nasty-smelling cat food, placed in a tin with a cap that has airholes. I display this concoction to my subjects, who may or may not find it tasty-smelling. Some will become enthused and lick the tin. Others will turn their heads away. (I think this is stress and not lack of interest in nasty-smelling food per se. These are mostly labs we’re talking about, after all.)
This evening I tested the Concoction out on a few dogs in the hospital for whom I had permission to take saliva samples. Apparently it works on at least some dogs, because when I wandered back into A Ward a few minutes after testing the Concoction out on a Rottweiler, the techs said to me, “What did you just do to that dog? After you left she drooled a whole gob of spit on the floor!” Success? Or was that a reaction to being allowed to taste the Concoction as a reward?
It just floors me that after all this time and effort, I still seem to be doing only a little better than 50/50 on getting sufficient sample size from any given dog. Who knew dogs don’t like to drool?