Friday, November 2, 2007

Fixed Cabins and Fixed Dogs

Another week has flown by with a lot of progress around here. Tom had the shower to the first guestroom about half tiled when he ran out of cement, so he and Selwyn transferred their attention to the wall and ceiling in the guestroom.

The center wall is done, and they were done with part of the ceiling when they moved some insulation and discovered a termite nest and a badly eaten, untreated, pine two by four.

They knocked down the nest and are replacing the board, and then they can finish that part of the ceiling. They’re going to check the other three corners of the building, and hope that they don’t find any more nests. The termites were all dead from the Dursban treatment we did on the building, but the bug spray doesn’t fix the damage.

Tom is out today getting the ceiling board they need to finish the ceiling in the bedroom and bathroom, so that should be done early next week, and I picked up more cement yesterday, so Tom will probably finish the shower this weekend.

Tom is also buying most of the lumber he needs to make the bed for that room. Tom loves working with the hardwoods that are so readily available here, and he and Selwyn are both looking forward to a change from the big construction job to the finer job of furniture making. Tom knows it will be a learning process, and has already found that his original design of a bed with sapodilla legs isn’t practical because it takes each side of a sapodilla three by three four runs through the table saw and a lot of sanding to get it anywhere close to furniture quality smooth. So, he’s looking for a slightly softer hardwood today, or a mill that would be willing to plane the lumber for him.

The big event around here this week was the spaying and castration of Beli and Stout. We had an appointment with a vet in Belmopan for 9:30 Wednesday morning, and we knew they’d come home that day, but we figured we’d drop them off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon, but that’s not how it works around here. We took them in, and the vet got to work sedating Stout right away. He doesn’t have a kennel at his Belmopan office, so we quickly realized that we were going to be waiting since one of us needed to hold Beli, but we didn’t realize that we’d also be assisting in the surgery. We waited for Stout to get logy, then the vet and Tom lifted him onto the pre-op table, where the vet administered the general anesthesia, and then we all went to work scrubbing him. The vet is a really nice, funny guy, and we were all laughing a little because I asked him if he did an open castration, and he said no, and then proceeded to explain, using himself as a model, what he was going to do. He left his pants on during the demonstration, of course, but it was still pretty funny and reminded me of how my horse friends and I talk about horses, using ourselves as models to illustrate how they’re moving, or where and how they’re injured.

When Stout was out and scrubbed, the vet had Tom help carry him into the surgery room, and to Tom’s surprise he seemed to be expected to stay and to hold Stout in position on the table while the vet did the castration. Tom was a trooper and watched the whole thing. I stayed in the pre-op/waiting room with Beli, and suddenly heard Tom and the vet laughing. When they were done, Tom explained to me that the vet had pulled a tube of Super Glue out of his surgical supplies, and when Tom asked what it was for, the vet, in his Belizean accent, said he put it on the knots. He meant the knots of the stitches, but the way he said “knots” it sounded like “nuts” to Tom, so Tom was questioning why he was going to put Super Glue on Stout’s nuts which were, by this time, in the garbage. It didn’t take too long for them to understand each other, but they were both still laughing when they carted Stout out of surgery and put him on a mat on the floor, still out, while we got Beli ready.

While we were getting Beli ready, a Mennonite farmer came in and asked the vet if he had any snake antivenin. His favorite dog had been bit by a snake, and the Mennonite didn’t know what to do. The vet very calmly explained that he does not stock the antivenin, but if the man went to the Belmopan hospital and explained what was going on, the hospital would give him the drug, which he could bring back for the vet to administer. And that’s exactly what happened. The Mennonite was gone and back within a half hour, so before Beli went in for surgery, the vet injected the drug into the vein on the dog’s foreleg. The dog, an Australian shepherd, was acting very shocky, just lying on the ground and panting, with her tongue, throat, and lips swelling, and bleeding from the inside of one of her back legs where the snake bit her. However, the vet said she should be okay, and gave the Mennonite a needle and instructions so he could inject a second dose of the antivenin later in the day. We don’t know how the dog is doing, but we were sort of glad to have been there to see this. We now know exactly what to do if one of us is bit, and seeing how calm the vet was about the dog makes a snakebite seem like a little less of a death sentence – just get the antivenin, get it injected IV, and get better. The vet also told us that living where we live, we might want to consider getting a couple of doses and keeping them in our fridge, since it’s a long ride to the hospital, the drug has a fairly long shelf life, and after years of horse and dog care, Tom and I could figure out how to do an IV injection in a pinch. And, the same drug works for people, horses, and dogs, so at the very least it would give any of us a little better chance of getting into town and into the care of a medical professional, be it a people doctor or a veterinarian.

We were, fortunately I think, not required to assist with Beli after she was secured on the operating table. Stout was still out on the floor, so the vet told us to go get some lunch and then come back to get the dogs. That’s what we did, and when we got back to the vet’s office both dogs were completely unconscious on the mats on the floor. We paid the bill, which was, I think, comparable to spay/neuter prices in the US, although it’s been a while since we had a dog spayed/neutered there – Beli was the equivalent of $100US, and Stout was $50US. Tom and I were a little surprised that it costs as much as it does, since it would be really good if more dogs were fixed here. Everywhere you go, you see skinny, mangy, sick-looking dogs wandering the streets, and there are always a few bitches wandering around with their teats dragging on the ground because they’ve had so many litters of puppies. None of our neighbors fix their dogs, and dogs will have litters of puppies where only a few live because they’re so malnutritioned and their mother is so sick when they’re born. Plus, there’s some sort of doggie venereal disease that’s an epidemic here, and it seems like most of the dogs have it since they’re all trying to breed. There’s no shortage of dogs, so there’s no reason not to fix the dogs, except that it costs more than most people have, and, we’re told, some people’s religious beliefs make them feel that it’s wrong to fix animals, and if they breed, it’s God’s will. I have a little trouble with that since I can’t image a God that wants sick, starving animals all over the place, but since we can’t afford to collect up all the animals and have them neutered, there’s not much I can do about it besides make sure our animals don’t contribute to the problem.

Anyway, we carted the two unconscious dogs home, although I ended up riding in the back seat to hold Beli in place, and we put Stout on the floor in front of the passenger seat. By the time we got home Stout was alert enough to walk, but we had to carry Beli in and she didn’t really come around until some time in the middle of the night when she got up and took herself outside. Stout made a very quick recovery and once he was up, he was up, looking for attention, things to chew on, and his dinner. They both seem pretty much back to normal now, although Beli is still a little quieter than usual. It’s amazing how quickly dogs recover!

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