Monday, July 26, 2010

HSTJ's July 2010 Itchy Scratchy Clinics - Dog Food Drive in Effect!

Because of our faithful supporters and dedicated volunteers, HSTJ has been able to increase its Street Clinics during the summer months to bring relief to the animals suffering from tick and flea infestation.  During the month of July, HSTJ volunteers conducted eight Itchy Scratchy Clinics treating a total of 1,004 animals!
Through donations received, mange and parasite medication has been replenished and sustained, however our dog food supply is extremely low and we must conduct a drive to replenish our supply. Please contact michelle@friendsofhstj.org to make a donation of food.



Here are the details of each clinic:

DATE: 1 JULY 2O1O
PLACE : COLONIA BUENOS AIRES NORTE, BOULEBARD CUCAPAH
86 DOGS DEWORMED AND TREATED AGAINST FLEAS/TICKS/MANGE
PERFORMED BY: ISABEL / MANUEL / CINTIA / YERONIFFE / ELIU

DATE: 5 JULY 2010
PLACE: COLONIA MARIANO MATAMOROS
41 ANIMALS DEWORMED AND TREATED AGAINST FLEAS/TICKS/MANGE
DOGS: 39 CATS: 2

DATE: 6 JULY 2O1O
PLACE: PRIVADA GILBRALTAR VILLA DEL REAL, COL FLORIDO
92 ANIMALS DEWORMED AND TREATED AGAINST FLEAS/TICKS/MANGE
DOGS: 89 CATS: 3
PERFORMED BY: ISABEL / MANUEL / CINTIA / YERONIFFE / ELIU

DATE: 10 JULY 2010
PLACE: COLONIA EL FLORIDO
223 ANIMALS DEWORMED AND TREATED AGAINST FLEAS/TICKS/MANGE
DOGS: 210 CATS: 13

DATE: 18 JULY 2O1O
PLACE: COL. SALVATIERRA, PLAZA CIVICA
199 ANIMALS DEWORMED AND TREATED AGAINST FLEAS/TICKS/MANGE
DOGS: 18O CATS: 19
PERFORMED BY: MARIA / JESSICA / JESUS / CLEMENTE / ENRIQUE / ALEX

DATE: 24 JULY 2O1O
PLACE: CENTRO COMUNITARIO COL. MEXICO
1OO ANIMALS DEWORMED AND TREATED AGAINST FLEAS/TICKS/MANGE
DOGS: 99 CATS: 1
PERFORMED BY: SANDRA /ANAHI/ KARLA/ ALEX

DATE: 27 JULY 2O1O
PLACE: PRIVADA GILBRALTAR VILLA DEL REAL, COL. EL FLORIDO
56 ANIMALS DEWORMED AND TREATED AGAINST FLEAS/TICKS/MANGE
DOGS: 54 CATS: 2
PERFORMED BY: ISABEL / MANUEL / CINTIA / YERONIFFE / ELIU

DATE: 31 JULY 2010
PLACE: COLONIA GILDARDO MAGANA
207 ANIMALS DEWORMED AND TREATED AGAINST FLEAS/TICKS/MANGE
DOGS: 185 CATS: 22

Thats 1,004 animals in 8 I/S clinics for the month of July!

Below is a narrative from volunteer Lisette of her experiences at the clinics she volunteered at:

On July 5, 2010 an Itchy-Scratchy clinic was held in Colonia Mariano Matamoros DIF, a low class neighborhood in the far east hills of Tijuana. The volunteers attending were: Leticia Coto, Luis Mondragon, Karlita, Rocio Davila, Lisette Ramirez and Michelle Santos. We were there from 9 am - 2 pm, treating a total of 39 dogs and 2 cats. Virtually no people showed up during the first three hours, so we walked up and down the streets surrounding the DIF Cinic, knocking on the doors and inviting people to bring their animals, all of which did. We saw many cases of mange and ticks. Also one case of rope burn on the neck, as a result of a collar on too tight. On a curious note, we saw a dog with 6 toes on every paw. Every person was given free dog food or cat food, and briefed on our upcoming Sterilization events and a possible future clinic near their area.

On July 10, 2010 an Itchy-Scratchy clinic was held in Colonia El Florido 3ra Seccion, a very low-class, dirt-road neighborhood in the far east hills of Tijuana (just across the highway from the location of the July 5 clinic), only this time we were at a school. The volunteers attending were: Luis Mondragon, Karlita (our little photographer), Mirsa Reyes, Lisette Ramirez and Michelle Santos. We were there from 10 am - 4 pm, treating a total of 210 dogs and 13 cats. Though people in this poor area try to take care of their dogs, we saw several flea infestations, as well as an epidemic of grayish-black colored miniature ticks. One special case was that of Roque. A male dog with two canine teeth on each side. The owner explained that when Roque eats, his gums bleed severely, possibly on account of the extra teeth. Another case was that of a female pug , who has what seems like a pouch of liquid on her underbelly. The current owner knows nothing about her previous history, except that she has already been sterilized. There was also a female gray and brown cat, that had kittens over a year ago, but since weaning them, has what feels like tits full of curdled milk. The owners also mentioned having sought veterinary diagnosis, but received no answer. This cat has some evident discomfort and soreness in the area.

A petition was started and signed by the majority of the pet owners in order to bring to their area a Sterilization Clinic. They were also very happy that HSTJ Itchy-Scratchy Clinics are now reaching the further eastern part of Tijuana, which is a highly populated area. All received dog or cat food, as well as other pet accessories.

July 31, 2010 On Saturday July 31, the Itchy-Scratchy clinic was held in Gildardo Magana, a mid-class neighborhood in the west-side of Tijuana. The volunteers attending were: Luis Mondragon, Karlita (our little photographer),Rocio Davila, Leticia Coto, Lisette Ramirez and Junior&Carmelita Ramirez. We were there from 7:40 am - 1 pm, treating a total of 185 dogs and 22 cats. We had a black and white stray that seemed to linger around throughout the whole morning. After treatment, a kind person asked for the owner, and finally led the little pup to her house where he had found a new home. We saw a surprising number of puppies and kittens, as well as several severe cases of mange, all of which received the appropriate treatment. One outstanding case was that of a small white pooch that, according to the good intentioned owner, had his leg broken after a two story fall, and, having no resources to pay for a vet visit, the owner did what was within his means, making a makeshift cast and treating any external wounds to the site. The poor pooch was also worm and flea infested. We treated this puppy for worms and fleas and did whatever else was in our power to make him feel more comfortable. The owners' address was also taken for future referral to a no-cost vet visit. There was also a female dog, brown and black, with an abscess in her lower eye. A vet visit was recommended for diagnosis and proper treatment.

Yet another dog with a fracture in his front leg was brought as well. The person that brought him stated that he had just recently been given the dog, but had thought the fracture should heal on its own. A vet visit was also recommended in this case. As is the custom, all visitors received dog/cat food and pet accessories too.



Monday, July 19, 2010

Update on Napolean - He's not only walking, he is running!!

Napoleon received his cart last weekend, and as you can see he took right to it! Thanks to all our supporters, Napoleon is able to walk again, and we cannot tell you how much we appreciate your generosity in helping us with this endeavor!
 












            





Now that he has his wheels, it is time for us to consider where Napoleon can go long-term. Caring for Napoleon has been a learning experience for all of us, and it likely will be a learning experience for the special person or persons who wish to take him into their home. When Dr. Veronika first rescued him, there was some hope that he might recover function to his hindlimbs. However, over time it became apparent that Napoleon will never recover function, and a veterinary neurologist confirmed this for us.

In many cases, an animal that will never walk again would be a candidate for euthanasia. However, our group only supports euthanasia in very dire cases, and none of us could picture Napoleon being ready to go. In spite of his injury, he is a happy dog who just wants to explore and conquer the world!

The right person to take him would need to have a lot of time and patience for his care. First of all, Napoleon cannot control urination or defecation, so he needs a diaper. His caretaker will need to ensure that he is kept as clean as possible. Additionally, Napoleon has never let his injury slow him down much, so he will drag himself wherever he wants to go when he is not in his cart. Therefore, it is very important that he be kept confined to a small space when taken out of the cart.

He also seems to do best with wraps on his hindlimbs to prevent decubital ulcers from forming on his knees and ankles from rubbing on the ground, and these will need to be changed frequently.

When in his cart, it is very important that Napoleon be monitored at all times so that he won’t get into trouble! Since he cannot feel his hindlimbs, he will not know if his positioning in the cart has gone off track, and he could injure himself if this happens. That said, it would be best if he is taken out in his cart frequently so that he can keep up a good quality of life just like any other dog without mobility problems would.

One concern with an animal who cannot control urination is the predisposition to urinary tract infections. For this reason, Napoleon needs his bladder expressed four times per day. He also requires a prescription urinary diet and routine monitoring of his urine for signs of bladder inflammation.

As you can tell, Napoleon is a lot of work. His foster mom, Dr. Veronika, is committed to keeping him healthy until someone willing to care for him contacts us, so he will remain in Mexico until we have a good prospective home. This guy has a lot of spunk and lets nothing slow him down. He is not fond of dogs larger than him, and he definitely likes to be the dominant force in the room, so his owners will need to be both patient and firm with him. However, he has a lot of love to give and will be a great companion for the right person or family.

If you believe you are the right person to take in Napoleon and become his caretaker, please fill out an adoption application. If you are considering it and have further questions about his care, you can e-mail Dr. Sarah at sarah@friendsofhstj.org.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE


TO BECOME A SPONSOR OR TO MAKE A DONATION VISIT

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

HSTJ's June Sterilization Clinics

We hope you had a safe and enjoyable July 4th holiday weekend. June was a busy and successful month for HSTJ! On June 6th, a mini clinic was conducted at the home of one of our volunteers, where volunteer vet, Veronika, sterilized 10 animals, 1 dog and 9 cats.






Our regular clinic for June was held on the 27th in the Colonia Castillo, this clinic was sponsored by the SPCA International, who recognized that HSTJ's services play a much needed part in decreasing the street animal population in Tijuana. HSTJ sterilized 32 animals, 16 dogs and 16 cats. Thank you SPCAI!


Also during the June 27th clinic, we had an individual from another TJ animal welfare organization who was interested in observing our surgery and recovery techniques and protocols. We were happy to share our knowledge and we were pleased to know that other groups are interested in helping to make strides in decreasing the population of Tijuana street animals in a way that is good for the humans and safer for the animals.

That is a total of 42 animals for the month of June! To view all of the photos from the June 27th clinic, please visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/hstj/sets/72157624389401328/

HSTJ's June Itchy Scratchy Clinics

HSTJ now has two different teams of volunteers conducting Street clinics. The first team of volunteers conducted 4 Street Clinics in the month of June treating a total of 341 animals against worms, fleas, ticks and mange! 323 dogs/18 cats

The second team of volunteers conducted 3 Street Clinics in the month of June treating a total of 203 animals against worms, fleas, ticks and mange! 174 dogs/29 cats.

That's a total of 544 animals treated through the June Street Clinics!


Thank you so very much to HSTJ's wonderful donors and members of the Rescue 400 club who have helped to make this possible. Thank you to dedicated volunteers Lety, Jesus, Maria, Clemente, Rosa, Jesica, Sandra, Anahi, Karla, Enrique, Lisette, Michelle, Rocio, and Luis who work so hard to reach these animals in these very poor colonias.

To learn more about the Rescue 400 Club please visit:
archive.constantcontact.com/fs037/1102557710212/archive/1...
To see photos from all of the street clinics, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/hstj/sets/72157624381757222/

Here are the stats and pictures:
June 5th at Colonia Loma Bonita treating 32 dogs
June 6th at Nueva Aurora treating 139 animals, 135 dogs/4c cats
June 13th in Colonia Mexico treating 122 animals. 114 dogs/8 cats.
June 12th, HSTJ went to a new area, Pedegral de Santa Julia treating 48 animals. 42 dogs/6 cats.
This colonia is located between the hills near the highway libre to TKT. This area had many houses that were burned and made of carton and wood, no public transportation is available and they have a really low quality of public services.

Many people were afraid and untrusting about the IS program, because in the past some corrupt individuals had come through the area offering mange "vaccines" which made many of the animals sick, some even died. HSTJ volunteers gave the residents information about the program and plenty of brochures with the information about the complications of mange and the danger of Riketsia, the tick borned illness in these areas so that the people can feel more informed and speak with their neighbors so that next month when HSTJ returns, we can treat more animals after gaining their trust whitout the concern caused by their past experience. It was clear that these people cared very much for their pets, they just lacked the resources to properly care for them.

A second clinic on June 12th was conducted in the Colonia Hidalgo by Lisette's team treating a total of 14 dogs

On June 19th Colonia Jardine de La Meza treating a total of 71 dogs and 18 cats. Among the most severe cases was poor little Blanquita. Her mange was recurrent, even after being on "treatments" for months. Finally the owner just gave up. We started her on Ivermectin and scheduled her for follow up treatments, which will get her a more permanent cure. Another special case was Pinta, a black andwhite skeleton of a dog. About a month or two ago she was run over. Sadly the wheel went right over her skull, blinding her in one eye, but leaving her without any other major injuries. She was lost and scared, not being able to see well or find food, she also became very emaciated. A good samaritan showed her the way to her owners who are now trying to help restore her overal health. A vet visit was suggested, but the family responded that this was out of their means.So she was given full de-worming, flea, tick, ear mite, teeth cleaning, eye cleansing... (the standard Itchy-Scratchy treatment), and was also started on a regimen of vitamins and protein rich dog food.

Dogs aside, we also saw several cat litters, some with four or five kittens per cat. Every person was given free dog food or cat food, and briefed on our upcoming Sterilization events and locations.

June 26 the Itchy-in Colonia Lazaro Cardenas, a mid class neighborhood in the west side of Tijuana. This was a follow up of a clinic held there aproximately 2 months ago. treating a total of 89 dogs and 11 cats. In one case we saw a white and brown fluffy little pup had what seemed to be a severe eye infection. With lots of yellow gunk oozing out. It was cleaned and then referred to a vet for diagnosis and treatment. Also there was a light brown dog who's chain/collar was chafing her neck so bad it was bleedy and stinky. The wound was cleaned and then treated with a gentle dog-friendly Antiseptic and a new collar was provided. As always, every person was given free dog food or cat food, and briefed on Sunday's Sterilization Clinic at Colonia Castillo.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Story About A Dog Named Summer - From the Streets of TJ to the Suburbs of Solana Beach

There is a running joke among veterinarians that our own animals are typically the strangest cases. Up until recently, this supposition had never held true for me. I had one cat that I had acquired from the San Diego Humane Society back in 2001, and she had never had a single health issue… until I became a DVM. Somehow, those three initials after my name changed my life and my world in ways I didn’t realize were possible.


My cat had always had a hatred for other animals, and so she had helped me maintain her status of ‘only child’ by being something of a brat to any non-human entity within 20 feet of her. This was probably a good thing, as veterinarians and others working in animal-related fields have a tendency to "accumulate" animals rather easily. Not only do we like animals, but we have access to poor, abused, neglected, and unfortunate souls that would otherwise go the way of the rainbow bridge if it wasn’t for us, so it becomes rather easy to develop a menagerie over time.

But, I had avoided this scenario. I, my husband, and my cat were one happy family for a good 7 years until I began volunteering for HSTJ. I avoided the issue for some time and managed to leave the sick and suffering animals in Mexico behind so I could come home to my warm bed two blocks from the ocean, but they were never far from my mind. However, my life changed from this comfortable existence in October of 2008.

HSTJ ran a sterilization clinic in a TJ colonia called Nueva Aurora, the most ironic misnomer I think I’ve ever encountered. Nueva Aurora means ‘new dawn’ in Spanish, yet this place would never measure up to its beautiful name. The colonia is literally built on top of a city dump. Shanties line the dirt roads in a neighborhood inhabited by some of Tijuana’s most debilitated souls. And of course, in any place where the people suffer and strive to live, the animals have it even worse.

Street dogs are a common finding all over TJ, and Nueva Aurora is no different. Since HSTJ began their work there, the animals appear to have fewer and fewer overt health issues, but there are still many cases of mange, parasitism, and starvation. Our work there is never finished.

Summer first made her appearance at our clinic and caught the attention of one of our volunteers, Luann. Luann noticed immediately that she was limping and asked me to take a look at her. On examination, I could tell she had a dislocated hip, but she seemed to be getting around rather well in spite of it. She was an approximately two year old dog, so I supposed perhaps she was able to compensate for her injury because she was still young. Alas, there was nothing we could do for her there at the clinic; we were not equipped for a major orthopedic surgery, and so I left her, just as I am forced to leave behind the thousands of suffering animals in TJ every time I go.

However, the entire week, I could not stop thinking about her. Something in her eyes and her personality caught hold of my heart and refused to let go. We were going back to Nueva Aurora the following weekend to run an Itchy/Scratchy clinic, and so I made the decision toward the end of the week that we would look for her and find her. My naïve plan was that I would bring her back to the states, perform a surgery to fix her hip with the help of my colleagues, and subsequently find a foster situation where she could recover. Then we would adopt her out.

With Luann’s help, I did indeed find Summer again. We brought her across the border, and I immediately vaccinated her, dewormed her, bathed her, treated her for fleas, and made her as comfortable as I could in our home. Although she still had all her hair, it was immediately obvious to me that Summer was suffering from sarcoptic mange (a guess, based on its prevalence in the neighborhood) as she was intensely itchy, so I began her on treatment for that as well.


Later that week, I brought her into my hospital to take radiographs of her hip. What I found was unbelievable. I estimated she had probably been injured a couple of weeks before I found her (presumably hit by a car), judging from the look of her lesions. She had a broken pelvis (in three places), a broken right femur, and a luxated right hip. She also had several compressed lumbar vertebrae (i.e. the vertebrae furthest down the spine). I drew blood to test for tick-borne diseases and check for any signs of organ malfunction, and I began her on painkillers. During this time, my husband and I talked it over, and we realized our little upstairs condo was not going to work out long-term if we were to keep this dog through her surgeries and recovery. We found a place in Solana Beach with a yard, and shortly thereafter we moved.

I decided Summer was going to need some time and a lot of crate rest to recuperate from her injuries before I whisked her away to surgery, so I did just that – gave her a comfortable bed to lie in and lots of rest. However, I began to notice she was increasingly drinking more and more water, and then having to go out more and more. Concerned, I took her back into my clinic and took a urine sample, thinking perhaps she had a urinary tract infection. However, we went ahead and did an abdominal ultrasound, only to discover Summer was pregnant.

I happen to be a pro-life sort of person; I am not a political activist, but I am somewhat religious and feel that God should be the one to give and take away life. This philosophy has rarely or never carried over into my profession as I see the detriment animals suffer from overpopulation, and I feel that humans are the ones who have put them into this predicament in the first place. In my mind, it is our responsibility to fix it by whatever means we can. However, I struggled with the decision of what to do about Summer’s pregnancy. She had suffered a great deal from all her injuries. I felt she might still be able to deliver, judging from how well her pelvis was healing, but would she be able to carry the litter to term? The decision was made for me when she became acutely painful on her uninjured hind leg. She had ruptured her cruciate ligament in her knee due to the weight gain from the pregnancy. Heartbroken for her, I brought her into my clinic so my boss could perform a spay and abort her litter as I didn’t have the heart to do it myself. I felt she probably would have made a good mom, but it wasn’t meant to be… not if I wanted her to live.

Summer spent the next three months recuperating and putting on weight and muscle condition that was desperately needed. I began her on glucosamine/chondroitin supplements to try to fend off the inevitable arthritis. However, she continued to drink and urinate excessively. I ran a battery of labwork, never finding an obvious cause for her signs. I finally made a guess based on her bloodwork and treated her presumptively for whipworms (her fecal exams had always been negative, but that doesn’t always mean they don’t have worms). Her signs seemed to abate over time, and to this day I still don’t know for sure whether whipworms were involved, or whether her body was simply suffering from some hormonal confusion due to the spay/abortion. I suspect it was the latter.

In February, I took Summer up to Orange County to be evaluated by an orthopedist. He suggested we go ahead and fix her cruciate ligament while performing a pectineotomy on the other leg, which would relieve some of the tension due to her dislocated hip. During her recovery from the surgery that following week, I began to notice blood spots on her bed. Confused, I examined her surgical site, which was healing nicely and showed no signs of bleeding. Finally, one morning when I brought her outside, I noticed blood dripping from her vulva. Immediately, my first thought was that she had a very bad UTI. I took her in for a urine sample, which cultured nothing and showed no significant findings on urinalysis. I was flummoxed until I remembered something I had seen down in Tijuana that I had never seen in the U.S.: transmissible venereal tumor (TVT).

TVT is a very strange condition in that it is actually a transmissible cancer which dogs pass to each other, most often during mating. It is not a virus or a bacteria, but the cancer cells themselves that are infectious. I remembered seeing a dog in Summer’s neighborhood with a very large tumor. I took Summer into my hospital and sedated her. Once I was able to perform a more thorough examination of her girly parts, the diagnosis was confirmed with the visualization of several bleeding tumors. I got a biopsy and sent it off just to be sure. With the confirmed diagnosis in hand, Summer was begun on chemotherapy.

The good news was that TVT is generally extremely responsive and curable with chemotherapy. It also doesn’t require very high doses, so Summer remained relatively happy and healthy during her 5 rounds of chemo. After she was cured of that, I worried as I noticed the knee she had surgery on was not resolving the way it should. There was also a lot of popping and crepitus coming from the joint when I manipulated it. After talking it over with the vet that did her surgery, I realized he had left part of the meniscus in (a piece of fibrocartilage that the cruciate ligament normally attaches to). That was likely the source of the trouble. My plan was to go ahead and do another surgery to remove the meniscus, and then perhaps pursue surgery on her hip after she had recovered from that.

However, I became sidetracked for a couple of weeks as I was working hard to get a paper submitted for publication. During this time, Summer began profusely vomiting and suffering from diarrhea, and no amount of diagnostics revealed what the problem was. I had her on a fairly good limited ingredient diet, so I was confident that surely the food wasn’t the problem. I mean, how many animals develop a sensitivity to Wellness whitefish and sweet potato? I kept her on a bland diet of chicken and millet for a few days, during which she seemed to recover. I began to add back in her normal commercial diet the way I advise clients to do, and immediately she began vomiting again. Huh.

Back on the chicken and millet, and then I moved on and added in a different commercial diet. However, during this time I just kept noticing that Summer seemed… ‘off.’ I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. She was lethargic and seemed depressed. I began to question my abilities as a veterinarian, as surely any good vet could figure out what was wrong with her own animal. But, her bloodwork was normal, and I could never really find much on physical examination. I sent in a urine culture, grasping at straws and thinking perhaps she had a UTI, but that came back with no growth once again. I noticed she seemed to have inflamed ears that smelled yeasty, so I began her on an ear flush, but my intuition told me I had not yet found the true problem. Some nights she would lie there, seemingly miserable and unwilling to get up. I found she was having a waxing and waning low-grade fever during these episodes. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with myself and my inability to come up with answers.

One evening as we were treating her ears, she yelped in pain on manipulation of her head and neck. I began palpating along her spine, and she actually reached around and nipped at me when I delicately placed my hand in the area between the thorax and the lumbar region. There was a palpable injury there which had never seemed to bother her in the past, but it suddenly dawned on me what was probably wrong: diskospondylitis.

This is an extremely difficult diagnosis to make, and so I had to work hard not to beat myself up too much. Typical signs for disko include lethargy, low-grade fever, and what we in our profession refer to as “ADR.” ADR, as in “Ain’t Doin’ Right.” There is hardly any specific sign that will point you that direction, and the only thing that managed to tip me off was the spinal pain. Diskospondylitis is a poorly understood disease, but it results from either a fungal or bacterial infection of the discs (i.e. the pieces of fibrocartilage that sit in between the vertebrae). It is most often associated with things getting lodged in the spine, such as grass awns, but it can also be a sequelae to a previous traumatic injury or a systemic infectious process.

Radiographs confirmed my diagnosis, and blood cultures showed she had an infection with an organism that was susceptible only to the most expensive antibiotics (of course). Diskospondylitis can take months to resolve. Summer underwent a dental cleaning six months later, at which time it was discovered she had a very bad tooth root infection. It is possible this was the source of the organism infecting her back; we will never know for sure. She also had a follow-up knee surgery a month later, where the remaining meniscus was removed. The cruciate injury is resolved, but unfortunately she already has a great deal of arthritis in that knee due to the loose tissue that was left in the joint.

Summer spent 6 months on antibiotics, and then I re-checked her radiographs to find she had minimal to no improvement. On top of that, the arthritis and injury was very apparent throughout her spinal column, her knee, and her hips. I came home from the clinic, and when my husband asked me how the X-rays looked I admit I burst into tears.

“What was I THINKING??? She has got to be in so much pain, and she’s only 3 years old! She won’t be able to live a full life… she won’t be able to live without pain, and I can’t fix it!”

As my husband comforted me, Summer walked over and sat in front of me. Her tail wagging, she reached up and licked my face clean of tears. My heart was breaking for her, but she had no concept of why I was so upset. Of course she had no idea it’s because I know things that she doesn’t – things that will affect her down the road. My husband spoke a truth I hadn’t been willing to face.

“Sarah, I never expected she would live a really long time. But, she’s here now, and she’s happy. You saved her life, and what more can you ask? She has everything she didn’t have – a home, good care, and people that love her. So, just enjoy the time that we have with her and stop worrying about how long that will be.” I tried to take his words to heart, but it has remained a difficult road.

Following her re-check, I increased Summer’s dose of antibiotics and did another 6 month course, and the infection finally looks like it’s subsiding. But, the rest of the injuries remain. I also recently discovered she has mild urinary incontinence resulting in vaginitis (i.e. inflammation in her girly parts), and so I had to begin her on another medication for that. This is probably due to her spinal injury and/or her pelvic trauma, but truth be told I’m amazed that she is able to potty relatively normally. As anyone can tell, however, the problem list continues to grow.

And so, we continue on our journey, my poor Mexican street mutt and I. I reflect back on a year and a half ago when I thought this might be as simple as a hip surgery and recovery. I had no idea what I would be getting myself into. However, I do feel that things happen for a reason. Summer could never have been in the charge of someone other than a vet, and she would have died had I left her there in Nueva Aurora; of that I have absolutely no doubt. God was watching out for her, and maybe for me, too, in a strange way. See, in spite of all the heartache and misery we have both endured through Summer’s ordeal, she has brought so much light into my life. Not only that, but when my husband was diagnosed with a painful neuromuscular disorder the following year, she was there to remind him that life was worth living in spite of pain. I will do anything I can to save her. She has cost me so much money (even as a vet) that every penny I made from the side job I had at my clinic was poured entirely into her. Summer has had a couple of other medical maladies now, including injection site reactions and GI upset from high dose antibiotics. It never seems to end, but I hope for now nothing else will pop up. I simply cannot know with this dog, but I love her, so I will keep fighting to help her. She told me from day one that she wanted to live; she still wags her tail and still gives me puppy kisses first thing when she sees me. I am not immune to the realization that surely she must be suffering, but until she tells me she’s giving up, I am not giving up either.

Sarah LaMere, DVM

A post-script from Mr. La Mere: Summer was a very vital inspiration for me in a period of time that, really, I don't know how I would have gotten through without her. Any day I felt like feeling sorry for myself for my own pain and movement issues, Summer was there wagging her tail and wanting to enjoy life with me.