The dogs were quiet last night. Most nights we are serenaded through the night with dog packs barking and howling, and chronologically-challenged roosters crowing all night long. Yesterday was our 5th day in Todos Santos and our first cold rainy misty day here. People were staying inside and it seems even the dogs were staying close to home. We all had our best night´s sleep.
We´re starting to gel as a team and getting a routine down. Every morning we meet at 6:30 AM and carry the supplies and equipment to whichever Todos Santos community we are in that day. We are a strange sight as we walk through the streets carrying big green supply cases, duffel bags and 3 tables – though not as strange as the 1st day we arrived on the ´chicken bus´from Huehuetenango and carried all our packs and luggage up what seemed like a steep goat trail up the mountain to Las Ruinas where we are staying.
We´re doing the canine chemical sterilizations this 1st week as well as the rabies vaccines and flea treatments. If there are any complications from the sterilization, they usually occur in 72 hours so we want to be finished our last one while we are still here to monitor and treat patients. So far no serious complications.
If patients come in sick we treat as best we can with our limited supplies. While doing a housecall on a post-procedure patient, Kate saw a Rottweiler lying by the roadside and looking very weak and emaciated. Terry (many of the dogs here have english names like Doggy, Smoky, Scooby etc) the Rottweiler had been sick and not eating well for awhile and eating nothing for the last 3 days. He turned out to have a severe infection of his prepuce, probably from getting bitten by another dog, and was getting septic and was in quite a bit of pain.
He was treated with subQ fluids and antibiotics and pain control and the following day, Roberto (one of the team and a Spanish-speaker) and Andres (our English-Mam-Spanish translator) carried Terry to the community we were working in that day and we kept Terry there all day to treat him with IV fluids, IV antibiotics and more pain control. We kept him warm and dry and later in the morning the little boy from the family came with 2 buddies and his grandfather to visit the dog and to try and get him to eat. Terry wouldn´t eat for us but when the little boy offered him cookies, Terry gobbled them down. The little boy stayed there most of the day feeding him when Terry wasn´t sleeping and by the end of the day, Terry´s vital signs had improved and he was looking better.
Roberto and Andres carried Terry home at the end of the day yesterday and the family set him up in a confined area sheltered by a tin roof. They built a good fire beside him to keep him warm and covered him with a blanket. We asked them to feed him some good soup and meat (most dogs here are fed tortillas and bones and whatever they can scavenge).
Late last night before climbing back up to Las Ruinas and bed, we checked on Terry and found him looking brighter, eating and drinking well. We left the family 2 hot water bottles and said we would be back in the morning.
This morning we went back to check on Terry before our clinic started at 7 AM. He was standing in the area by the fire and the owner told us he was walking around a little. He was eating well and they had been feeding him sopa de pollo (chicken soup). The hot water bottles we had left them were warm and obviously recently refilled to keep him warm. We checked him out and things were looking much better. Gave him his morning antibiotics and told them we would be back at the end of the day and would visit twice and day until he was OK again.
This afternoon we´ll continue with the male sterilizations, rabies vaccines and parasite control. This weekend we start spaying the female dogs that we´ve vaccinated this week and whose owners wish them spayed. We continue through next week until Friday. Rabies control is really important here as all the dogs run loose and there is quite a bit of fighting.
At the end of the day we´ll head back up to Las Ruinas. I´ll keep my eye out for Domingo Mendoza Ramirez. He is about 70 or 80 years old and every day I see him working hard in his fields, building a fence out of maize stalks, to keep animals out of his fields. We chat: he asks me where I´m going and how I am. After we chat he always says:
Nos vemos mañana. We´ll see you tomorrow.
It´s been an incredible experience here in Todos Santos so far. A combination of old-time James Herriott type medicine with the housecalls and limited supplies and more modern medicine with the prophylactic sterilizations and vaccinations we are doing.
Nos vemos mañana. – Tracy