I started off this morning by heading into the deep town of Huanchaco, up where tourists don't go and many residents do not have electricity or running water, to pick up dogs for surgery. Yesterday, two of Perros Project people had gone up there and spoken, aided by a translator, to residents. Some people had agreed to get their dog spayed / neutered so we went back today to pick them up. Of the first 3 we went to, none of them agreed to release their dogs. Of the second 3, 2 did. We ended up with only 2 dogs instead of the 6 we were anticipating. We loaded those 2 dogs (and one human who wanted to accompany his dog) into the cabs we were in and headed to the clinics.
In hindsight, there are things I would change if we were doing it this way again. First of all, I would show up the morning of surgery and take dogs immediately when the human agrees. As it turns out, giving people 24 hours to think about it and talk to others wasn't a great idea the first time. And I would make sure and have an excellent translator with us - I have not been impressed with our translator at all. She is rather timid and not good at translating our questions (ex: we asked in English whether the Peruvian vet thinks a certain additional surgery on a street dog is a good idea and she asked him whether he himself wanted to do it.) Also, it makes sense that people did not want to give up their dogs - we're strangers, taking their dogs away in taxis. Most people do not have cars and their dogs most certainly have never been in a car / taxi. Many people expressed concern that their dog would not be home to guard their house. Finally, someone expressed concern that we were possibly vet students come to take dogs to the university to experiment on.
We got to the clinic and I immediately realized I was much more comfortable there than the day before. Plus, there was a PP volunteer there who hadn't been there before, and it became my role to teach her what to do. So, I rolled up my shirtsleeves and just got to it. We had 6 dogs waiting (2 from the town and then some who came in with their humans who heard about our clinic) and we knew there might be more coming. We got straight to it. Super-vet Lisa neutered a street dog we have called Chili and the Peruvian vet, who is awesome, Fernando, got to spaying the Pit Bull we collected from the town. Her human came with us. At first, he asked whether he could sit through the surgery with her and we told him no. In hindsight, that was a mistake. He sincerely cared for her and wanted to be a part of it all to make sure she was ok. He sat patiently out in the waiting area until I noticed and called him in. He watched for about 5 minutes before he got a little queasy and went back to sit down. I kept in touch him with him through very broken Spanish and hand signals. After she, Tiffy, was done and in the recovery room, I brought him back to sit with her for a little bit. He was thrilled to see her. He then collected the chain he had brought her in with. I could not handle the thought of this beautiful, friendly, loving Pittie going home on a chain so I offered to buy him a new collar and leash from the selection at the vet's office. He graciously accepted and chose a black and white collar and a blue / red / yellow woven leash. When Tiffy woke up, we brought him back to greet her and she immediately started wagging her tail. He was very gentle with her and guided her out to the waiting area and into a cab. He was given pain meds to take home with him (through a PP volunteer who is fluent in Spanish) and instructions on how to care for her. His name is Mario. Tiffy is muzzled because, despite being great with humans and good with the street dogs she lives near, she was not friendly to the strange dogs in the clinic!
While Tiffy was being born, the National Police brought in another Pit Bull. This one, we named Mama, was found on the side of the road giving birth to dead green babies. She was obviously in distress so the police brought her straight to us and Fernando, the Peruvian vet, did surgery on her after examining her. He determined there were more babies inside still and did a spay that involved removing them (they were dead already). She bled a lot because she has a blood born disease, spread by ticks, that prevents the street dogs from clotting properly. She survived the surgery and was allowed to stay at the clinic overnight so that she didn't have to go straight back onto the street, just hours after giving birth and then having a hysterectomy. I did not find out that she was permitted to stay overnight until we were at dinner last night. It was the final dinner the whole group will have together as many people are leaving tonight and tomorrow, so we were all making statements about our day. I started crying when I talked about Mama and how, while we were eating and drinking merrily, she was trying to survive on the street. Someone gave me the beautiful news that she had at least one night of quiet and safe time before she'll be returned to the street. Here is Mama.
All in all, we spayed / neutered 7 dogs and one cat yesterday before leaving. We left 2 dogs (1 spay, 1 neuter) for Fernando to finish after we had to leave. The reason we had to leave was pretty exciting - the Mayor of Trujillo wanted to recognize our efforts. We went to a beautiful, old building (dressed in dirty clothes from the day!) for a ceremony in Spanish that ended in us being presented personalized, individual certificates from the Municipality and each being given a coat of arms flag. It was so special.
It was a PP volunteer's 45th birthday yesterday so we all went out for our final group dinner.
Our ride back to the hostel was in the back of a truck!
And, finally, here is Lula. She is the reason the Perros Project exists. Courtney & Matt found her, very very very sick, on the side of the road. They forged relationships while in Huanchaco and got her medical attention and found her a permanent home! Unfortunately, over the last year, her aggressive cancer has come back. It's not operable, so she probably will not be around much longer. But she is a beautiful soul who shines light everywhere she goes.