Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Saving Lives and Taking Names

I just got back from my trip to Cancun and I have to say, that was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!
Just to be a part of something like that was unbelievable. I feel very changed and I'm thrilled with the new outlook it's given me. Never before have I been surrounded by so many people I've come to profoundly admire and respect for their unfailing dedication to the animals. Ever day on our bus-ride to and from the clinic each and every person would scan the scenery outside their window. The silence would be punctuated by the occasional call of "Dog!" or "Cat!" at which point everyone would swivell simultaneously to look out the caller's window. Everyone was just so anxious to check on the well-being of each and every animal they came in contact with.
I assisted mainly in the dog recovery room which took in the dogs after their surgery, while they were still asleep. We would work fast to get their nails clipped, ears cleaned, incision area scrubbed, picked ticks and applied flea/tick prevention. Simultaneously we'd be monitoring them to make sure their breathing stayed normal, gums stayed pink and that they started to wake up in the average time (which changed daily as the vets had to keep changing their med protocol due to shortages). Occasionally I would help in the surgery room, cleaning instruments (NOT a job for the squeamish, I find out :D) and on the last day I helped bring dogs in from outside and get them on the table. They would come in, having been given some pre-meds so they were usually pretty dopey. I would shave a small patch of hair on their front leg and then hold the dogs for the vet tech to place an IV catheter. The tech would then administer more anesthesia to put them competely out and then they would be intubated. The small dogs and puppies were the worst, squirming and crying. Of course, everyone's favourites were the Pit Bulls! So stoic and loving they never gave us any trouble. I think I enjoyed working in recovery the most. As the dogs woke up you got to spend some time cuddling and getting to know them (if they were friendly, of course! The aggressive ones got muzzled and put in crates as soon as they started waking up)
I went on the Sunday before the clinic started to help set up. While we were there, one dog was brought in that was very near death (unfortunately, he had to be put down the next day due to overwhelming health problems) as well as a very sweet female dog who had a wire wrapped around her paw, right down to the bone. Both these dogs got treated without us even having unpacked all the supplies! They also did a street-dog round up on Sunday which introduced me to these two...

I fell in love with the mom-dog, "Lola," immediately. She was just the sweetest, most playful young dog! She surprised me with her outgoingness and super cuddling skills. Her son, who we named "Stretch" proved himself to be an extremely endearing brat and he soon had me wrapped around his tiny paw as well. Of course, it didn't take me long to attach a tag to their collars that read "EMMA'S". Lola is now being fostered by 7-sitter extraordinaire Erin, and "Stretch", now renamed Luongo, has wormed his way into my brother's heart and that's where he'll stay!
I have many stories to tell about my trip but this post has already gotten too long. I'll just leave you with some pictures, to give a better idea of what it was like...