We had 3 female sterilisations to do this morning. The first two were street dogs and went very well and our last female was an owned dog. We had met this little girl a few weeks ago when her confused owners had brought her to the sanctuary. They claimed that she had put on weight and was fat and then suddenly thin. Our vet tried to explain to them that she must have been pregnant, had the puppies very prematurely and that they were born dead and very small – not the easiest thing for Gemma to translate into Thai!
The owners must have understood to a certain degree, and so brought her in to be spayed. Opening this girl up, I had never seen such an anaemic reproductive system – the tissue was a pale yellow and almost white. You could see the evidence of the miscarriage in the uterus and ovaries. Nonetheless, we continued with the operation and had almost finished taking out the second ovary when we noticed she had stopped breathing.
Despite attempts to resuscitate her, she died. This is our first loss of the sterilisation project, and it was as if a dark cloud sat above the operating theatre. Believed to have been a reaction to our anaesthetic, she was weaker than we thought her to be and breaking the news to the owners wasn’t pleasant for Gemma.
Although the death of this girl brought us great sadness, we have sterilised almost 40 dogs since Marie Eve arrived and unfortunate accidents such as this happen in even the most sterile, hygienic and qualified veterinary hospitals around the world.
Still, no rest for the wicked, and this afternoon we had to perform another surgery - although on a very different species and on a very different part of the anatomy. We have a patient that, after vast amounts of research, we have discovered is a Lesser Bamboo Rat – ‘Lessy’ – and he has a tooth infection that has been on-going for weeks. He is an owned animal and was brought into us last night.
Without adequate dentistry tools, Marie Eve had to make do with what was available. Lessy was given a local anaesthetic, but it is surprising how, despite his size, he was immensely difficult to keep still. Both Steven and I had to hold him during the surgery, Gemma and I sharing the torch responsibility as it was growing dark and Gemma running around grabbing whatever make-shift tools and medicine’s we needed.
An hour later most of Lessy’s rotten teeth had been removed. He was then stitched up and left to recover. Visibility was probably the most difficult problem with this surgery – such a small animal, with not much light and without the correct instruments meant that there were many moments Marie Eve was unsure exactly whether she had bone or tooth in her clamps.
Today was one hell of a last day. I know that I am going to miss the dogs, Gemma, Marie Eve and the other local volunteers very much. My leaving tomorrow also feels to have come at a particularly bad time after today’s loss. However, I do not think that there is anyone stronger, more passionate or capable of pushing forward with this project as Gemma Ashford. And with her trusted vet/ dog catcher by her side, Marie Eve, I think that the dogs they are going to encounter and take care of over the coming weeks are very lucky canines indeed to have such enthusiastic and kind people looking out for them.