Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 3: the clinic

Today I went to the Ahren Clinic. Fernando and his wife, Paulina, are veterinarians who own and operate this clinic. It's located on a very busy round-about called "Ovolo Papal" which means "Papal Oval" or Papal round-about for those of us who think in those terms.

We got there around 9am and were immediately inundated with new clients and caring for the dogs were spayed / neutered the day before. Caring for them means making sure their incision sites hadn't opened overnight and that they were in ok-health. Things seemed to be going ok and the dogs from yesterday were going home with their humans - and then a beautiful little black and white doggie came in. She was spayed on Tuesday and went home yesterday. Her humans, who care for her deeply, brought her back in because her wound was open and she had been messing with it.

To set the stage, I will tell you that I sat in on a major surgery for my dog when I was 17 and then sat through some intense surgical situations with my cat and dog last year when they were both fighting cancer. Never did I feel queasy or sick, and am in fact hoping to go to vet school at some point later on in life. Today, however, I "lost my shit" and had to remove myself from the surgery table and sit down to regain composure. I literally felt ill and dizzy. In hindsight, I realize it was because of the conditions and that those conditions were overwhelming for my body that was still recovering from the long traveling on Monday / Tuesday.

So, this little black & white doggie came in. She needed immediate assistance. We had to give her a drug that starts with a K (but I forget the rest of the name) to try to numb her so the vet could put in many more stitches. That drug, when going in, stings terribly and she started crying and crying and crying. She did not try to bite, but instead just cried out in immense pain. Her procedure today was done while she was held by Alex. Here's a picture of her and Alex, while super-vet Lisa works on her.

After we finished with that darling doggie and sent her home with her humans with oral pain meds, we turned to beautiful little Lula. We joke and call her "Trash can dog" because she literally was found in a trash can, left for dead, with 3 of her paws broken. She's about 6 months old, maybe less, and is ABSOLUTELY PRECIOUS. She got spayed today. Here's a photo of her surgery.

Surgeries at the clinics here (there are 2 clinics going simultaneously) are very different from in the States. You can see in the picture above a little. We were working in a small and very dirty (i.e. flies flying around) room with commotion going on around us constantly (dogs barking, dogs walking in and out of the surgery room, people coming in and out, and less equipment than the vets would have liked). To make it worse, the vets did not have the right amount of pain medication and anesthetic to properly put the dog under. This means that they would actually show signs of waking up or sensitivity during the surgery. It was one of the scariest things I've experienced in a long time. While super-vet Lisa was working on the dogs, I was stationed at the dog's head, watching for any sign of movement. One of the dogs started blinking and then actually lifted her head up to see what was going on. We immediately stopped and gave her more meds. She went back under. Another dog started whining intensely. Again, we stopped and get her more meds. As I learned, however, we didn't want to have to give them more meds. Why? Because it would mean them being under longer and being under longer meant being under on a cold slab of concrete (aka the recovery floor) longer which meant recovery was impeded because the dog was cold. So, we tried to power through as quickly as possible so the dog could wake up and start to regulate his or her own body temperature. Excuse my french, but holy shit. I had to force myself to not blog for hours because I was not in an appropriate head space to write. I was very mad at the world - mad at humanity for what we have created and what we have to try to undo or fix. And mad that we didn't have perfect conditions to try to make it easier on these brave dogs.

This brings me to another point. These dogs, unlike the dogs who (I know realize) are rather neurotic in developed counties, rarely show any signs of aggression. They get along with other dogs, cats, chickens, humans, you name it. They roam the streets and do not really fight. Instead, they are perfectly integrated. And, at the clinic, they did not resort to anger or aggression when they were scared. They simply vocalized what they were feeling and let us do our job. It is incredible. They are stoic when they wake up from their surgeries, and recover so quickly. They are inspirational.

When it was all said and done, 2 clinics (one US and one Peruvian vet at each clinic) spayed / neutered 17 dogs & cats.

We finished work today and took a bus ride to a local ruin. We all needed to clear our heads after these 3 days of physically and emotionally hard work. The ruins, called Chan Chan, were unique. They've been around since 850 AD and are a collection of palaces for the royalty of the time. Each king would build his own palace and surround himself with his own peasants, concubines, and guards. When he died, his peasants, concubines and guards would die (involuntarily) and be buried near him. I learned that this idea (his people being killed when he died) would ensure that his people would not kill him in order to try to take over. As I write this, I realize I'm not sure who killed everyone if everyone was being killed - perhaps the king who was taking over? I guess that leaves open room for that king having an incentive to kill them all. I guess no system is perfect! Here's a picture of Chan Chan. The walls used to be 3 meters (about 9 feet) tall. They are no longer, unfortunately.

And, for shits and giggles, here's a picture of a Peruvian hairless dog. He lives at Chan Chan.

After Chan Chan, I needed a little Steph time to clear my head completely, so I took a quick walk on the beach. It helped and I am ready to power through these final 4 days. Tomorrow, the shelter folks will be stretching the fence, attaching the gates, laying more bricks & building a roof. The clinic people will be spaying / neutering. I'm not sure where I'll end up, but I will start at 8:15 by going to pick up the dogs for surgery and transporting them. I might stay at the clinic or I might head to the shelter. That remains to be seen! Check back. As always, pictures are all on Facebook.


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