Sunday, March 8, 2009

VICTORIA.....Victory is Hers

If you're going to be flat out in the market of Granada, Nicaragua, with a broken bone and all...hungry to the point of near-starvation. And if people are going to mill around you, their eyes looking past your ugliness and the disgusting wound that will surely lead to your death....well, you might as well hope that a visiting veterinarian and a vet student will find you before death claims you.

The dirty white dog wasn't making a lot of points with the vendors and customers in the market. They stepped over her, around her, but no one helped her. She was just a larger pile of the garbage strewn on the sidewalk, something to look around or over, but definitely not "at".

But Heidi Paulson, a Granada resident, saw the injured dog through different eyes. Those of a veterinarian. Well, almost. Heidi is studying veterinary medicine, and she was definitely in the right place at the right time.

She called me to report the dog. I relayed a call to Lynn Wimmer, a volunteer vet. We clicked.
Lynn and Heidi rallied around the wounded dog, waiting for me to find them among the crowds.

It was worse than Heidi had described. I cringed while they loaded the dog in the back of the truck. But the dog never whimpered or complained, perhaps aware that it was in safe hands.

We headed for Casa Lupita, a place that has seen its share of animal disasters. This one was as bad as any before it.

Lynn assessed the situation and made the decision I didn-t want to hear. The leg would have to be amputated. She cleaned it, swathed it in honey, wrapped it with gauze. We kenneled the dog with soft blankets and hoped it would sleep well after a dose of pain meds and an antibiotic.

The next day Lynn removed the leg and spayed her as well, saving her from a surgery down the road. Lynn fashioned a rather remarkable, not to mention comical, collar that prevented the dog from agitating post -surgery stitches. The patient rested well.

In a week-plus time, and in spite of having to re-stitch the amputation wound (obviously the collar didn't work all the time), the dog began to heal and maneuver on three legs. She revealed a personality of sweetness, soothing calm, and a kind of gratitude for a circle of friends that cared enough to save her.

We named her Victoria. The meaning is obvious. She won a tough fight and victory was hers.

Then the bittersweet road of her journey faced us. She would be leaving the comfortable clinic home as soon as we could find a real home for her. Our demands were simple but steadfast for all of our dogs ready for adoption. She would go where love and tenderness would be served with her Alpo, enough to make up for the years when she had no one who cared about her.

Soon Victoria wouldn’t notice her missing limb. She may not be up for a game of frisbee in the park, but she would be able to walk without falling over. We knew that for a fact. Our previous three-legged patient, Tripod, is living, tail-wagging proof of that. She now resides in Colorado with a former Peace Corps volunteer where both are happy to have found each other.

A letter went to out to adoption possibilities….through the U.S., to Canada, and to our Nicaraguan mailing list. We weren’t surprised that 10 responses from the U.S. and Canada asked for the honor of adopting Victoria.

Then came a local American ex-pat, Susan Money, and one with experience. She had adopted Josefina from Casa Luta two years ago. Josefina, a scabby street mongrel, changed into a regal princess in a week’s time.

For Susan and Victoria, it was love at first sight. The missing leg wasn’t an issue, not when there was so much heart at stake. A click of a camera caught the proof. Susan knelt down to pet Victoria, and an exhuberant, grateful Victoria licked her face.

High in the breezy loft of Nicaragua's Laguna Apoyo….free of speeding cars and menacing people, Victoria lives like the queen that she was meant to be. May she live happily ever after.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Elegy for a Potato

Ramble In Peace
Last photo of Potato ~Jose Muniain

Sad news from Casa Lupita, the free-wheelin, ever-lovin, world famous Potato, The Potato to the street, aka Papas Fritas, aka Rocky, has disappeared, and well...(probably) passed away. Everyone who met this delightfully scrappy guy loved him. And yes...he lived free and, if he died, died free. Of course. If you ever met him, you know he'd have it no other way. You can read the full sweet sad story in Finnegan's Sarna Dog Chronicles.

Field Notes; Corissa Meadors 05.08

At school we were required to do a two-week independent research project, but the topic was totally up to us. A friend of mine went to teach English at a school, another stayed with an indigenous community, and one classmate studied tourists.

I remembered the first time I went to Nicaragua how affected I was by seeing all the street dogs, so I decided I wanted to research that. My adviser put me in contact with Karin in Costa Rica and Donna from Casa Lupita, and the rest is history!

Going into it, I didn't really know what was going to happen. I just knew they'd basically find something for me to do. I kinda thought maybe I'd watch the vets or feed dogs, clean kennels, something like that. But then I met Finn and what did happen was so much more involved. We ended up feeling like we really made a difference, even in such a short time. ~ Corissa

Casa Lupita was originally intended to be strictly a spay/neuter location. They were supposed to collect the street animals (or owned animals as well), bring them in and sterilize them, treat what problems they can such as mange and fleas/ticks and then re-release them. There are six kennels at the clinic, but these exist for the purpose of waking animals up from anesthesia, not as homes.

But as is wont to happen, the clinic grew into something a little different. It is still a spay/neuter location when the vet is in town, but more often than not the dogs they bring in off the street are in no condition to be sterilized. Weak, emaciated and diseased, they would never recover from the operation. So Casa Lupita has become a dual-purpose center: a place to sterilize and release the animals that can be fixed and released quickly, and also a rehabilitation clinic for the truly hard street dog cases. The hard cases are usually dogs who were not born to street life, but were domesticated and abandoned, and do not know how to survive without a home, making it very difficult to put them back out. At that time they began searching for good homes for these dogs to go to after being recuperated, as well.

I became very involved in the stories of three street dogs, all of which have something different to teach about the Nicaraguan dog situation. First there was One-Eye, the Masaya bus stop dog; then Preggers, the hugely pregnant market dog; then Papas, the lakeside dog. There were also, of course, the clinic residents, but these three stories have the most to teach.

Complete article here: Field Work Project – Street Dogs

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New partners

Here's a little good news for animals. Casa Lupita and Stones & Waves, a nonprofit veterinary clinic in San Juan del Sur, will soon begin working together, sharing resources, medicines, supplies, and information as well as continuing to collaborate on programs such as the spay and neuter clinics.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Welcome to Casa Lupita's new blog

Casa Lupita is a health clinic for homeless animals located in Granada, Nicaragua. The clinic is a project of Building New Hope, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to linking people to people working towards a flexible, democratic, healthy, sustainable way of life in Central America and the world. This blog is for the animals.

It's a dog helps dog world!

~via Animal Rights Blog via Metacafe

Street Dogs in Nicaragua is the result of a collaboration between a couple of Americans who met while volunteering at Casa Lupita. The photos are by photographer/blogger Finnegan Dowling. Corissa Meadors used them in this video as part of an independent study on Nicaraguan street dogs she was doing while at Casa Lupita.

There are a lot more photos and stories as Finnegan's blog, Nicarugua Redux: The Sarna Dog Chronicals and be sure and check out Corissa's detailed, infuriating, and inspiring article here. Meet some of the lucky, sad, and not so lucky, heartbreakingly sweet street dogs of Central America.