Friday, October 12, 2007

Chop Chop, Puppies' rabies shots

On Wednesday, Tom and I had a day out in San Ignacio. The puppies, Beli and Stout, were due for their rabies shots a couple of months ago, but somehow we never quite got around to getting it done – probably because it wasn’t as easy of a task as it sounds like it should be. We got them in May, and the only time we’ve had them in the truck is when we brought them home from their breeder. We’ve leash trained them here, but leash training in the middle of the jungle doesn’t teach them about walking down a street in town when there are other people and – gasp – other dogs on the street. And, we just don’t take the dogs out in the truck much here because it’s always hot, so we can never just leave them in the truck for even a short time while we go do something else. Knowing that taking them for shots was going to be a 2-person job was one of the reasons we kept procrastinating.

But, we finally decided that Wednesday was it, and we were going to take them for shots. We loaded two very hesitant puppies in the truck, where they cowered and crammed themselves on the floor of the back seat as we went down the Georgeville Road. Fortunately, neither of them was carsick. We stopped first at BAHA (Belize Agriculture and Health Association, or something like that) to ask where we should take them, and were told to take them to a private vet. The problem then became finding a private vet, because it seems that most of the vets here have other day jobs, and we don’t get out much at night. We then stopped to talk to Gregg, the owner of the campground where we stayed when we first got to Belize, who is an animal nut and frequently rescues stray dogs. He said that his vet wasn’t in for the day, but told of us a place to go get the rabies shots where the vet also wasn’t in, but where the vet tech could do it.

So, that’s what we did. The vet tech was very helpful, gave the puppies their shots, gave us the paperwork, and told us what vaccinations we should get for Mel, Nock, and Lou. He also told us a few things we didn’t know, but that could be helpful in the future, like the fact that instead of having to get import permits for the dogs again if we take them out of the country and then bring them back, we can go to BAHA and get each dog a passport which will allow it to travel in and out of Belize without reapplying and paying for the import permits. We’re not planning any trips out of Belize with the dogs yet, but we have no doubt that at some point if we go back to the States for an extended period of time, we’ll drive and take the dogs.

The other thing the vet tech told us which sort of made us laugh is that although the three white dogs got 3-year rabies shots just about a year ago, they should get a booster every year while in Belize because rabies comes over from Guatemala every year so the dogs should be immunized every year. We were laughing because the vet tech made it sound like it’s all Guatemala’s fault that rabies outbreaks occur, and if we weren’t so close to the Guatemala border rabies wouldn’t be a problem in Belize – as though the path of a rabies outbreak somehow recognizes international boundary lines. Needless to say, when we talk to a vet we’ll get the vet’s opinion on whether the dogs should be boostered more frequently.

Overall for the day, the pups did quite well. After a few times in and out of the truck, they were a little more willing to jump in and out and didn’t have to be lifted like sacks of potatoes. Neither drooled too much or got sick, and after we made it clear that they were to stay in the back seat, they sat quietly. We ate lunch at Erva’s, where we could eat on the porch right next to the parked truck. We tied the pups in the bed of the truck while we ate, so they were able to stand at the rail and watch us eat and drool over our food. They were funny, because they quickly became possessive of the truck, although they weren’t consistently possessive. Some people were allowed to walk by and got nothing but grinning pups with wagging tails, and some people got barked at before they even got near the truck. One group of three people parked a few spaces down and then walked into the restaurant, and the puppies greeted them like long lost friends. Tom and I remarked on it, and one of the guys admitted that he works in a butcher shop and dogs always like him! When we got home, but puppies were delighted to be back in their yard with their friends, and they were exhausted that night, as you can see from the picture.

A funny thing happened on our way home. We drove through San Antonio just as school let out for the day, so the kids were all in the school yard waiting for the bus. As we drove by, some of the kids starting yelling “Chop, chop,” which is what they always yell to us when we go by their houses. It’s sort of shorthand for “hurry up,” and has become a running joke. I leaned out the truck window, yelled “chop, chop” back to them and made a chopping motion with my hands – and all the kids in the school yard, our neighbors and kids we don’t even know, broke into cheers! Tom and I laughed all the way home.

The only other big news this week is that El Raton seems to have succumbed to poison before Nock could put him out of his misery. As we were unloading our stuff from the truck, Tom called me to come to the front of the truck – and there was stiff, dead El Raton. Nock hadn’t been hunting in the kitchen for a day or two before that, so either he was already dead and we didn’t find him, or he was in the process of dying in the space under the house. However, we think he may have left survivors, so we’re continuing to secure the fruit and vegetables every night.

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