“who’s dog is that?”
“what will happen to her”
“that kind of dog should be shot so other dogs won’t get the sickness.”
Light brown, painfully thin, coat rough and patches of fur missing, she spent most of her time lying down, scratching her mange infested ears and rump so the open sores bled. One story was that while the other dogs were considered to be Bina Hill’s, she was considered a stray. No one’s responsibility. Her ears were so bad, they were kept at a strange half-mast position, making her look a bit like a gremlin. So I dubbed her Gizmo.
“you’re worried about that dog.”
“so I care about suffering. anyone’s suffering.”
That a dog should count in our moral calculus was politely tolerated in public, who knows what was said later. Like with the glue traps and mice in Georgetown, me caring about the suffering of an animal was considered weird.
“so no one will care if i get the vet to either treat her or kill her?”
The vet assistant showed up to use the phone.
“i have a dog for you to see.”
“OK, just now.”
Diagnosis was severe mange that was getting secondarily infected, and worms to explain her skeletal frame. He gave her a subcutaneous injection of Ivermectin for the inner & outer parasites and a Vitamin shot, then an intramuscular injection of antibiotic. The whole veterinary intervention cost $600 GYD, about $3 CAD. I also learned about the recommended vaccinations for dogs in this area, and confirmed the epidemic I saw in Yupukari n 2006 was distemper. The antibiotic had to be jabbed into her rump muscle, which hurt and caused her to yelp and escape from these treacherous humans. She forgave me later when I fed her.
That afternoon, she became the focus of my lesson on Observation. One type of observation relevant for budding wildlife managers is to be able to observe an individual animal carefully. We went through what to look for to assess an animal’s health. Most of the students said she was just an old dog, but I pointed out how her eyes were clear, nose good, and teeth in great condition. She didn’t look old to me, just sick. Turns out she is quite old for a dog here, 5 ro 6, maybe even 9 yrs old, and survived the distemper epidemic in 2006. The students took more interest in this ignored dog now that they had to observe her carefully. I got them to compare her to a healthy dog.
Now I wait to see how the treatments go, which can also teach my students about measuring change over time. I wonder if my $3 investment will have a Lazarus effect on her, and increase empathy in the students.