The last big community spay day of the series! I didn’t realise this until Marc said it to me as we walked up to the boat this morning, laboriously lugging all the gear with sweat already pouring of us at 7.30am. And what a day to finish on. The island is apparently a place where people dump abandoned dogs they no longer want and the population has become feral and dangerous – as well as uncared for. The mission was to get there, catch the dogs and do the job. The truth of it is that the dangerous bit of the job was done by Don Oscar – a world renown dog whisperer who had given up his time (and driven 16 hours) to get down here and perform some miracles in coaxing these feral dogs into his arms. True to his reputation he managed it without any heroics or rough handling and before we could blink he had us a large collection of dogs to get cracking with.
When I say us, I wasn’t alone today. I was working with Dr Bitter who is on the McKee board, has about twenty years experience and what a great guy. Together we got set up and started operating, working it all out as we went along and a special thanks to Leo – a tireless local who helped us with all the logistics or rigging up all the bits and bobs (and trained me in hardcore machete action yesterday) – as well as getting the few island residents on side. A tough looking bunch (hard as nails, covered in homemade tattoos and not an ounce of fat to spare between them), they were very quick to smile and join in with us once we got going and despite my total ignorance in being able to speak more than three words in Spanish, I really enjoyed their company today – despite the fact most of them were armed with three foot machetes strapped around their waists.
The sun, the mosquitoes all added to the sense of hardcore healing and I’m absolutely shattered tonight. Christine worked really hard to sort all this out and as logistically challenging as it has been from organising to doing (we even had to take water with us for this) she really pulled it out the bag and I desperately hope today will do justice to the message of the McKee foundation and the great works it is doing on championing the welfare of these sort of animals (and in turn hopefully benefiting that island community). It will, I have no doubt, although I have to smile because Dr Bitter uses exactly the same technique as I do back home in spaying – he doesn’t use the cable ties and takes no shortcuts so all of that became a non issue very quickly – as did the anaesthetic and we swapped ideas and techniques readily throughout the day. I tried his anaesthetic, he tried mine and it was really good fun. The best way is always the one with which the surgeon is most familiar with in my book and it was just great working with him.
Adam, Marc and Chris are all in good spirits – now today is out the way I think they feel pretty happy this one is going to be a winner and the next couple of days are going to be general shots as well as a quick nine hour drive across the country tomorrow to the Caribbean coast of Limon to visit – guess what – a sloth sanctuary! The only nerve wracking bit is we need to drive right past an active volcano (erupted four days ago) and apparently is categorized as being extremely dangerous at the moment… never a dull moment!