A Travellerspoint blog

Last Day, First Loss

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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.

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Posted by StreetBitch 22:47 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

First Pyometra Case

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On the 19th March Super Rabbit died. His deterioration happened very quickly, he lost his appetite and the area where we had amputated his leg began to smell. We believe that his leg became infected and sadly, but unavoidably, the decision was made that it was kinder to put him to sleep.

Beany is now living in a cage until we can be sure that his fracture has healed properly; his clumsiness means that it was just a matter of time until he did himself some irreparable damage.

Yesterday we sterilised four more dogs – two adult females and two puppies. Today, however, was slightly slower because we encountered our first pyometra case. Frankly, we have been unbelievably luckily not to have come across pyometra until now. This case was fairly advanced; the uterus and ovaries were an abnormal grey colour, filled with thick green puss. All of the affected area was removed and there is no reason this girl shouldn’t recover as well as our other patients.

This afternoon we went dog catching and now have six sterilisations to do tomorrow.

Posted by StreetBitch 22:56 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Etti ‘The Alpha’ Goes Home: Let the Operations Commence

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The incidents involving Etti yesterday proved two things:

1) with every day that passes, Etti is getting more frustrated and miserable being confined to the sanctuary;
2) he is taking this anger out on the other dogs here;
3) he is healthy enough to go back home to Wimali.

Marie-Eve really didn’t want any distractions during the surgeries today like she experienced yesterday and so in the morning Gemma and I borrowed the car from the school and drove him back home.

I picked him up and carried him to the car. For such a strong, powerful dog – obviously a born Alpha – I am often struck by how comparatively small he is next to me. Nonetheless, he is pure muscle, and so I had to walk quickly with him frozen in my arms through the rest of the curious dogs.

Taking him out of the sanctuary, he turns into a completely different canine. Obviously scared, as I placed him in the back of the car he was rigid and stayed so until we had travelled for at least ten minutes.

Twenty minutes later and we were stood outside the orphanage where we had found him almost 5 weeks ago. He was overjoyed to be back out on the street. Straight away he was running up and down the road, marking his territory and letting the other dogs know that the King was back in town. I felt very emotional letting Etti go, made more so when I looked back in my wing mirror and saw him running after us.

I am sure that the first brief moments that he is in his old patch will feel strange to him, but seeing his initial reaction at being back, free on the streets I now know that he is a far happier Etti than he was 48 hours ago. Our boy was just a street dog through and through, if ever I saw one.

Arriving back at the sanctuary, we are told by Marie-Eve that Mr Bean’s leg had become infected by maggots. Luckily, because they were detected early on, they are still very small. The wounds have therefore been cleaned and a new dressing and cast has been put on.

At last, now that it’s (relatively) quieter and calmer in the sanctuary with one less Alpha male in the pack, this afternoon means that we could finally get down to sterilising our 4 females that had been patiently waiting for 48 hours.

The two puppies we spayed first and then one of our own girls at the sanctuary – Fleta. We had decided to leave the lovely fat one (as we have now named her) last, through concerns that she may have pyometra. Marie-Eve believes that this last girl that we sterilised did have a tumour in her uterus – likely to have been caused by the hormone injection that her owner had been given her. With the uterus and ovaries now removed, we expect her to make a full recovery just like the other patients.

Surgery finished at about 7.30pm. After feeding the dogs and giving out the evening medications, we were done a little before 9pm.

Furthermore, the next 12 hours are going to prove crucial for the rabbit whose leg we amputated yesterday. Amazingly, this morning the aptly named ‘Super Rabbit’ began hopping around the floor and his appetite is good. However, this afternoon when Marie-Eve checked up on him the area around the amputation began to look rotten. The dangers of working in such basic conditions may prove fatal for our Super Rabbit.

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Posted by StreetBitch 23:19 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Leg Amputation

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Today’s plan was to sterilise the 4 females that were caught yesterday. However, we never got round to these sterilisations due to a number of internal cases that were caused by our own dogs and those of the school next to us.

This morning Debbie who lives next door at the Baan Unrak School brought in one of their rabbits that had supposedly been attacked by one of their dogs. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that the rabbit’s leg had been severely broken and required amputation.

This hard-core little one has now earned herself the name ‘Super Rabbit’ after she needed more than ten times the recommended anaesthesia dosage for the operation which lasted a little over an hour. She is now awake, but dreary and will stay in Marie-Eve’s room tonight so that she can be closely monitored.

This afternoon more patients were created by one of our own dogs – Etti. Our two new volunteers - Becky and Chico - were taking our lovely blind dog, Wiley (or as Marie-Eve commonly miscalls him, Wally) for a walk to the lake when Etti - for no obvious reason - launched himself at Wiley and attacked. Poor Wiley didn’t do anything to provoke or retaliate and it wasn’t until Etti had to be physically lifted off the ground by his tail that he released his grip on Wiley’s neck.

Never has Etti attacked Wiley before, and we now believe that it could be because Wiley has not been sterilised that Etti perceived him as some sort of threat. We have had to put staples in Wiley’s neck to close the skin that had been torn open.

A couple of hours later during dinner, Etti attacked one of our female dogs, Fleta. Again, I have never seen him attack a female before – rather, I have witnessed him retreat when a female has growled at him. Clearly his frustration is increasing and we cannot delay much longer his release date.

The last incident of the day came when a dog was brought in from Baan Unrak Children’s Home after he had been hit by a car. This little boy is called Didor and is Dorri’s identical twin brother (incidentally, Dorri was also brought into us after being hit by a car and is currently still at the sanctuary waiting for his owners to collect him). He is able to stand, although it is visibly painful for him to do so. He will be put on a drip and carefully monitored over the next few days.

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Posted by StreetBitch 21:40 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Chained Leopard Cat Used as Tourist Trap at The River Kwae

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An insane minibus driver meant that I arrived in Kanchanaburi in a record 3 hours, getting in at just gone 11am.

Nonetheless, I made it to my destination in one piece and was dropped off a mere 1 km walk from the Bridge on the River Kwae. The bridge is smaller than I thought it would be, with surprisingly few people actually on the bridge structure itself. It seems that the majority of those tourists visiting the area preferred to spend time eating in the restaurants, haggling in the market and posing for photographs with animals that should be free in the wild.

As to the latter, between the bridge and the JEATH museum, there was a leopard cat that was heavily sedated and used as tourist bait so that morons with more money than sense could have a photograph taken with it.

During my time in Thailand, this is one of the hardest things to deal with, the sheer amount of wildlife that is used for tourism and ‘entertainment’ is shocking, and what makes it even harder to witness are the ever-willing western tourists engaging in such stupid, barbaric and dangerous practices, never questioning the true atrocities that lie behind that ‘cute’ monkey, or that ‘fluffy’ leopard cat.

I soon made my way to the Allied War Cemetery, about 3kms away. Having a degree in History I am no stranger to war cemeteries and battlefield sites. Nonetheless, it was a far more emotional experience than I had expected. Despite being in the centre of a very crowded Kanchanaburi, with the main road running parallel to the cemetery’s entrance, it was very peaceful and there seemed to be a real degree of respect and contemplation within its parameters – something that was lacking at The Bridge on the River Kwae.

Across the road is the Railway Museum. This place is very true to the history it claims to represent, with great exhibitions, video testimonies of POW survivors and wonderful interactive sources. Begrudgingly I had to depart the museum earlier than desired in order to catch the 4pm minibus leaving for Sangklaburi.

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Posted by StreetBitch 10:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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