Veterinarians without Borders / Vétérinaires sans Frontières – Canada is a charitable organization with a mission to work for, and with, communities in need to foster the health of animals, people, and the environments that sustain us. We have a number of international development projects around the world and this blog will bring you stories from the field.
So Kate and I were enjoying a cup of chocolata on Sunday morning, when we heard some ear piercing cries of a dog coming from the building across the street. They stopped, we looked at each other, and the wheels were turning in our heads of whether to investigate. Then the cries continued, so we went into the building until the cries guided us to a pila on the second floor. A pila is a large 3-compartment sink used in homes and businesses. In front of the pila were two Todos Santeros men with a broomstick trying to push out a small puppy from behind the pila. The water was running and the puppy was soaked, shivering, and clearly in shock. As we approached the men quickly left and I wedged my way in behind the pila while Kate tried to find a rope to use as a leash. I suspected the puppy would want to try and bite me if I reached out to her, but she was so petrified she was frozen still. So after a few minutes of petting I was able to scruff her and pull her out. Then the question was “what do we do with her?” We decided to dry her off and perhaps set her free in a more amiable location. But when we got her back to the hotel, I put her on the ground to dry her off and she immediately took off. So it was Kate´s turn to pull her out of the neighbours yard. We had a clinic in Angles that day so we brought her with us to hang out for the day. Since “dogs in a bag” are a routine occurence here, Tracy and Kate created a puppy hammock in a corner of the clinic room by hanging a VWB tote bag from the ceiling where the puppy slept most of the day. Over the course of the day, Tracy was suspiciously spending a lot of time with the puppy, and sure enough there was the rumour of finding out the procedure for bringing her home to Victoria.
And so Pila has a plane ticket to Victoria….(Pila = 2 , Brush with death = 0…Pila + Tracy = home run….)
See you soon,
Hello everyone. My name is Joye and I´m a technican from Nova Scotia taking part in this amazing experience in Guatemala. You may have read the blog entry about my clinic, Truro Veterinary Hospital, and their huge contribution enabling me to be here. If so, you know that I only had 1 week to prepare for this trip. We are now a week and a half into things and I think I´ve finally figured out what I´m doing here!
Last week we visited the community of San Martin and stayed with families there. The family I stayed with was so helpful and pleasant to be with, even if I´m pretty sure we had to walk to Mexico to get to their house! The people in San Martin, and their dogs, were very different from those we´ve seen in the central portion of Todos Santos. The dogs were thinner and in many cases more fearful or hostile to us during exams. The community seems much less traditional and more Westernized, with more Mexican influence. It´s only an hour by bus away, so the differences were very remarkable.
This week is spay week and so far it´s progressing very well. It´s sooo cold here in the mornings, however, so we are often off to a slow start. I spend much of the early morning shivering and huddled by our meager heater, and I developed a cold on Monday that has been hanging with me throughout the week. Today some members of the team presented a show and activity for the children here on dog safety which was very entertaining and well received. Roberto as Scooby Doo was a huge hit!
Well, that´s all my news for now. One more day of spays left and then some catching up and organizing..so hard to believe it´s almost over already. Thanks to everyone who has helped make this experience so amazing for me!!
Our project this year will be similar in many ways to our previous trips to Todos Santos. We will be chemically sterilizing male dogs with Esterisol and surgically spaying female dogs. The team is a bit smaller, with 3 veterinarians (Drs Kate Kuzminski, Tracy Cornish and Roberto Martinez) and 3 technicians (Marjolaine Perrault, Anne Marie McPartlin and Catalina Zapata). Every team member is a returnee, except for our new technician Catalina. Sadly we will not be joined by Dr Enid Stiles this year. (Its not too late to change your mind Enid!) What will be different, however, is that we have two exciting additions to the project this year. The first is that we have been asked by another remote village of Todos Santos, San Martin, to help with their canine issues. As a result we will spend 3 days there vaccinating dogs against rabies and chemically sterilizing male dogs. There are no guest houses/hostels in this area, so we will be billeted with local families. This is something new for us…and could be interesting considering many people still speak Mam, a Mayan dialect, in Todos Santos. Our smiles will go far I hope. The other exciting addition is that Dr. Roberto Martinez is working on a children’s play that will focus on dog bite prevention and improving the nutrition for the dogs that live with them. We all can’t wait to see this big guy in his dog costume. We promise to post some pictures…..
And as I scurry around making last minute arrangements and hoping that our duffles fit everything we want to bring down, I reflect on our task ahead. We all know it will be hard…and uncomfortable…and exhausting. But we also know what a great opportunity is before us. We are so fortunate to be able to make this trek, back to a place that is very near and dear to our hearts. I know we will do great things because this team is great. And committed. And we believe in the project and in improving the lives of the people and the dogs of Todos Santos. It is a long way from Canada, and not every one will get why we do what we do. Why we travel so far to help a community so high up in the mountains that some days I swear we are above the clouds. The truth for me is that we all live in one world. And we are all responsible for each other. And if we don’t, no one else will right now. So for me it is easy. The sheer gratitude demonstrated to us by the people of Todos Santos is overwhelming. We don’t need to speak the same language to know what our attention to their dog means to them. A smile says a thousand words……
Todos Santos here we come………..
Guillermo and I were very pleased to receive the following email from Kaytie: