*written on July 16, 2008*
Gloria and I immediately got off the bus and picked them up. I filled my two Frisbees with water and put the overheated puppies into them so as to cool off. We scooped water into their mouths as they tried to stand up but could only then collapse back into the Frisbees. This situation was just too much for me to let go. There are hundreds of dogs I’ve passed by in Nicaragua, unable to do anything because they were ferule or grown up, but these puppies were vulnerable and were going to die if we did nothing.
Many people in my group thought I was crazy, but I took the puppies onto the bus while everyone else was at the beach, and poured water into their tiny mouths with the cap from my advil bottle. I looked ridiculous covered in sand, sitting on the floor of the old, dingy bus with a Frisbee on my lap and a dog in my arms. I called my mom to ask her what mixture of liquids I could give the dogs besides water, and she called our veterinarian to get a solid answer. She called me back and instructed me to mix milk, water, and eggs together. Cows milk is isn’t good for the puppies to drink straight, so the water would dilute it. The eggs were for extra calories, because the puppies were so starved.
The caretaker of the school (a young man who had grown up on the streets of Managua and went through the Quinchos program) traveled with us to the beach that day. He was one of the few people who followed me onto the bus, and he seemed interested in what I was going to do. I asked him if he would be willing to walk to the local town to buy milk and eggs to mix with the water. He gladly agreed and off he went with the sum on money I gave him. He promptly returned not twenty minutes later and handed me the items I’d asked for, along with two syringes. I had no idea the small desolate town would have syringes, and I was overcome with hope! What a thoughtful guy! My job was about to become much easier.
Using the syringe, I gave them all 4 ccs of the mixture and proceeded to let them rest. I ruffled the puppies fur with my sarong and then wrapped them all in it, placing them at the back of the bus to sleep. They were exhausted, but glad to be in a warm, comfortable place. They instantly crawled on top of each other amongst the comfort of my sarong, and were happily asleep.
For the next four hours, while the girls played and enjoyed the beach, I sat on the bus with the dogs, taking them to the bathroom (disgusted by the parasites I could see in their fecal matter), feeding them, and ruffling their fur as to make them feel they had a mother to love them. I was really worried about two of them, as they couldn’t stand up on their own for most of the day. As time went on they quickly gained their strength back. A few of the girls stayed on the bus with me for most of the day, very interested in the process of rehabilitating dying dogs. We had some great conversations about animal care and the treatment of animals in Nicaragua.
I ended up taking the puppies back with me to the schoolhouse. I knew I would have a tough trip back to San Marcos the next day, as I was planning to leave a day early so as to get the dogs to the Veterinarian. The night was full of surprises. I put the puppies in a box with my sarong, and was frustrated but relieved when they gained enough energy to climb out of it. They began to develop some personality, and followed a few of the girls around when I woke them up to go to the bathroom. This was the point where I was starting to be sure I was doing the right thing. It was a bit of trouble to get them back to the schoolhouse, and I hadn’t played with the girls on the beach. I knew it had been beneficial for the girls who had stayed on the bus with me, so I hadn’t completely neglected my internship responsibilities.
Later that evening, the same young man who had gone to retrieve the syringes, brought with him a friend, named Wilbur, who said he wanted one of the three puppies. I was hesitant at first, knowing the puppies were all very sick and needed massive amounts of attention. He told me he had wanted a dog for a long time and would take great care of it, giving it real puppy food. I made sure to ask him never to hit his dog, as I see many people do in Nicaragua. Wilbur responded with, “Claro que no!” Of course not! “I think it is awful how many of my fellow Nicaraguans treat animals, and I will never do that.” With this statement I was convinced, and I handed over one of the girls. The boy immediately wrapped the tiny thing in his shirt and said, “I will name her Princessa.” My smile spread ear to ear. By this time it was around eight thirty, so we spent the evening talking and making jokes, while I played with and comforted the other two tiny beings in the box. I showed Wilber how to feed Princessa with one of the syringes, which I gladly gave him as an accompanying tool for his new puppy.
After the boys left, I dragged my sleeping back outside. Rose, another volunteer, is allergic to dogs, so I decided it would be best to sleep outside with the puppies. Until sunrise, I woke up every hour and a half to feed the babies and take them to the bathroom. The night was full of whimpers from the dogs, screeching from the bats, and buzzing from the bugs. I was sure to thoroughly spray the perimeters around my mat with deet bug spray, for the insects here are far superior size wise to those in North America.
Gloria and I traveled back to San Marcos the next day. It may have been one of the most tiresome days of my life. We took a taxi to the town of Posletega, and then three buses to get ourselves to San Marcos. I played the role of “crazy gringa,” who thinks she the mother of a few puppies, for the span of the day. I did receive quite a few smiles alongside the weird looks. The most attention was paid when I whipped the puppies out on the concrete in the middle of the chaotic bus stations to go to the bathroom. People surrounded me on several occasions, all which asked where I got the dogs. My only response was, “they were abandoned by some mean person on a beach in the North. They were going to die if I didn’t take them with me.”
The microbus driver to my town asked me what happened, for I was sitting in the front seat with the anxious puppies. He seemed touched by the story and drove me to the Vets before he stopped at the normal loading place in the town square. The people here can be so nice!
I begged the vet to take the dogs for a few days, so as to rehabilitate them. He was nervous they wouldn’t make it because they had some blood in their fecal matter and urine. Thanks to the emergency fifty dollar bill my grandmother gave me five years ago, that I have kept in my wallet since, I was able to pay for all of their medicine and their five day stay with the vet. Might I mention that vets here don’t normally take animals overnight, but my fifty dollar bill convinced the nice man. He only charged me five dollars a day to take them….not bad compared to what that would be in the states.
I found a home for them the same day. A friend of my family was looking for a puppy, and agreed to take them both. Yay!! I then slept for 22 hours straight, only waking up to have dinner shoved down my throat and to go the bathroom. Gracias adios!!