Darwin Animal Doctors


Archive: Jul 2013

  1. Felix the DOG

     By Kelley Harpin


    This summer, I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in the Galapagos Islands with Darwin Animal Doctors. I was eager to get some great clinical experience, help the local pet population, and help preserve unique native wildlife. The experience was everything I hoped for and more, filled with great people, beautiful scenery, grateful owners and their pets, and an unexpected new addition, Felix! Here is the story of Felix and how he landed himself in the United States!


    dad3On the first Wednesday afternoon, a woman, Maria, stopped in, concerned with her neighbor’s dog that was living in the highlands. The pup needed to be neutered and treated for fleas and ticks. Maria was very worried about getting him proper care. We said that with the owner’s permission, we would gladly help. When I heard her talking about the dog, I imagined a hardy ‘boar’ dog prepared for the wilderness of the ‘highlands’ (which I had not visited yet). But about an hour later, in came Felix, a ridiculously cute fluffy terrier mix, deliriously nice and trusting of all. Maggie (a friend also volunteering) brought him into the clinic for his examination. He followed her in, and immediately after she sat down, he clumsily plopped himself in her lap. I had been working on our records on the floor, and looked up to see him happily surveying the room.  He was matted on his behind and covered in fleas and ticks but wagging his tail and giving doggy kisses to everyone. When I first saw him, I though to myself, what a funny puppy! Nothing like what I imagined, and he was so nice.


    dad2The day went on, and when everything was finished, Felix was still there long after all the other dogs were picked up by their owners. He was quietly lying in his cage curled up in a little ball in the back corner. I decided to take him out for a potty break and feed him. He did his business, and I got him a bowl of food. But before I could put the bowl on the ground, he got so excited that he hit it out of my hand, spilling all the small kibbles among the small lava stones in the patio. I picked up some of the kibbles and placed them back into the bowl, and he quickly gobbled them up as if there were a dozen and not three. I laughed at his goofiness but felt bad that mealtimes seemed to be so infrequent for him. After dinner, I couldn’t resist keeping him out with us, so I let him out, and he ran over to me and put his extremely oversized paws on my lap, so I picked him up onto my lap. With content, he wiggled his little butt around a bit to get comfy, rested his head on my shoulder, and feel asleep for about a half hour. Maggie just chuckled and shook her head…she knew I was in love!


    dad4He stayed for another day; whenever I had a free minute I would take him out and give him some love. He was so good, never making a peep in his kennel and just wanting to sit in my lap or be nearby.  I thought about adopting him into my little pet family, as I had lost my dear golden friend Queenie in January, but he had an owner. Friday afternoon, Maria came to pick him up since he was still at the clinic. I went over the discharges with her and brought him to her. I told her I was going to miss him as he had become my little buddy over the past couple days. Maggie standing next to me mentioned how she thought I should bring him back with me, and Maria’s eyes lit up as she said that would be an amazing idea. She loved him and had watched over him the past few months but she was growing more and more concerned with his shabby state. She knew his owner had tried to give him up in the past and knew this could be Felix’s chance to get a good life. He spent his days tied to a tree and often had no food or water for days at a time. He had both external and internal parasites and was becoming matted. Maria had been trying to inform the owner about proper care, but the owner was not around to care for Felix sometimes for multiple days of the week. I told her I did love him, and if the owner was not really looking to keep him, of course I would take him into my home.


    dad6She left with him and told me she would call and let me know the owner’s response. I didn’t hear back until the next Wednesday; Maria was concerned she hadn’t seen Felix since they discussed adopting him out, but she did tell the owner about DAD and our location. I didn’t hear anything from her or the owner throughout the rest of my trip. I called Maria once more the day before I was leaving to let her know that I was thinking about him and if things changed in the future, Morgan would help her find him an appropriate home even if it wasn’t off the island. I left saddened that I wouldn’t see him again and worried about his fate. I had thought a lot about my decision to adopt him and had spoken about him with my boyfriend, Dan. We were both so excited about the possibility to adopt Felix, as we had both lost our older dogs in the past year and would be so happy to have a new adventure buddy.


    dad8On my ride home for the airport, I was chatting with Dan about all the great experiences I had and the great people I had met. I told him I was sad about not being able to adopt Felix, but I reassured myself everything happens for a reason! Soon after we started talking about it, I received a Facebook message from Emma (a veterinarian volunteer), that Felix was at the clinic and his owner decided he would be better in a different home. Our president, Tod, was luckily still there and decided to take him back with him for me! I was so excited and couldn’t believe it! I guess it was meant to be!


    dad9I picked him up late the night of his arrival in New Jersey with Maggie. He was so excited to see me, his tail not just wagging but doing full circles!  He slept most of the car ride home to Connecticut, resting his head on my lap. The next morning, I took him for his first adventure of many; a walk around a lake island my sister lives on, followed by a quick dip in the water. He pranced around the island beside one of his many new friends, Milly (my sister’s Cairn terrier mix). We stopped by the water, and he went guns blazing after Milly right into the water until he realized it was not an extension of the land, and he quickly doggy paddled his way back. He came running out of the water doing puppy crazies around the beach with Milly. He was just so happy I couldn’t be more pleased.



    Dan adores him and loves having his new furry navigator out on the boat with him. Dan’s family dog Gladys (a pit-lab mix) and Felix were instant best friends, tearing around the huge backyard at lightening speeds and lounging in the shade under the bushes. Dan and I are so happy to have a new little buddy in our lives. He has needed a few treatments for some intestinal parasite as expected, but he has come into his own and since treatment really pepped up. He has got a great new haircut for the extreme summer we have had and enjoys lounging in his kitty pool. He is going to have a great life full of great adventures and lots of love from both four and two legged friends!! My trip was amazing but being able to snuggle Felix and give him all the love he deserve makes it that much better!

    1 Comment
  2. Meet a patient of ours; mum to be ‘Cuca’.

    She came in in the morning, with her owners worried. She was pregnant and in labour already since eleven the previous night, without any result. When we examined Cuca, we found out that she was really tired and there was one puppy in the birth channel that was still alive! We waited half an hour, with Cuca in a calm and relaxed place, to see if there was any progress. For the owners it was exciting but nerve wracking as well, since this was their and the dog’s first litter!
    After we found out there was no progress at all and since there seemed to be too little space for the puppy to get out we decided to do a caesarean.
    We needed more hands to help dry the puppies after they came out of the uterus. Luckely the IOI (Isabela Oceanographic instute) team and the owner were standing ready!

    3 healthy (big!) puppies and a happy mum were the result, as well as a happy team! The mum and the puppies are doing great.

    Once again a really rewarding experience :-)

    (Taken from Tjarda Reints Bok and Jochem Lastdrager’s blog, Travelling Animal Doctors)

    Leave a Comment
  3. YATCHI!

    Meet Yatchi, a happy dog of 1,5 years old.
    Yatchi is living in the highlands of Isabela Island. A friend of us visited the farm and found out that Yatchi was hit by a car 1 month ago and was still limping with his frontleg. Besides that he was still escaping to be the casanova of all the females in the neighborhood!The owner was really desperate to get him checked and castrated. So we went there on a sunday and examined Yatchi. His right frontleg was broken, but already healing. This process, luckely, always goes fast in young dogs! And the fact that he was still limping gave him the feeling that he had to be carefull with that leg. In this case a little bit of pain prevents the dog from fully use his leg which obviously would end up in breaking the leg again.After we examined him we had no reason not to castrate him. Since the floor of the clinic is really slippery we decided to castrate him at home, in the highlands. So there would be no chance of him falling down and braking the leg again!After surgery Yatchi woke up in the place he normally sleeps sleeps, between the little chicks and the fighting cocks (yes, unfortunately they have those here and use them for fights…).The owner was impressed by the procedure, according to him it was ‘as they did surgery on a human’.
    At this moment Yachi is doing great and is now a happy castrated dog, and hopefully he will stop chasing the females soon!

    (Taken from Tjarda Reints Bok and Jochem Lastdrager’s blog, Travelling Animal Doctors)

    Leave a Comment
  4. The Isabela project part 2

    Hello everybody!

    The last two weeks we started with the clinic on Isabela islandGalapagos. We are here for the Darwin Animal Doctors and are able to use the facilities of Isabela Oceanographic Institute! Since the animals here haven’t seen a veterinarian in 3 years most people are happy to bring in their animals!
    Besides treading animals all day we are also spreading he word about us being on the island for about 2 more months! This through a car that has the function of a radio (driving around, while playing a message on a megaphone), giving flyers and information at schools and putting up flyers at all the restaurants and supermarkets.

    On Isabela there are around 2200 people living, and probably far more animals. So we will stay here for 2 months more to be able to treat all the animals and give the owners more information. It seems that on this Island the owners are more awaren than on Santa Cruz, but there is still need for more information. Especially about the myths of castration and information about feeding and parasites. It seems that on each island the hunters have different ideas about neutering. (Yes, people hunt on the Galapagos islands!) On Santa Cruze the hunters were afraid that their dogs would get a heart attack if they would use them for hunting after castration. Here on Isabele the story goes that hunters castrate their male dogs themselves with a manchetta (big jungle knife) without anesthetics… So the next two months are a great opportunity to get to know the people and create trust and awareness!
    And we have already had the first hunting dogs in for neutering!

    We will keep you informed, unfortunately our internet does not support picture uploads but we will post them as soon as possible!

    (Taken from Tjarda Reints Bok and Jochem Lastdrager’s blog, Travelling Animal Doctors)

    Leave a Comment
  5. DAD

    Clara Daisy Greenwood, veterinary surgeon

    Over the last month, I have been lucky enough to be working at Darwin Animal Doctors on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos.  As a clinic, we have seen a huge variety of cases ranging from parasitic infections to road traffic accidents to poisonings and puppies being born.   It has had its high and low points, as this job always does, but I have been amazed by the love and kindness shown by the community to the animals and to us here at DAD.

    DAD1 My favourite animal tale, so far, is that of Huesos (“Bones”), also known as Rex.  He was found wandering the streets emaciated and disorientated, hence the name Huesos.  Normally, we do not take in animals from the street but this lovely Doberman was so close to death we simply couldn’t leave him.  We took him into the clinic and into our hearts whilst he slowly recuperated.  As we had been lucky enough to have a blood analyser donated to the clinic, we tested his blood and found that his internal organs were all really healthy and that we had no other concerns for him apart from the fact that he was really weak, especially in his back legs.  He spent a very happy couple of weeks resting and eating with us and slowly started to regain his strength and confidence.  We were all so excited the first day we heard him bark as he began to feel at home with us, such a small bark from such a big dog.


    After a couple of weeks with us we started to take him for short walks to help strengthen him up again, after a few days of short walks he disappeared from the clinic one evening.  We were all distraught and spent much of that night and the following morning searching for him around the streets of Puerto Ayora.  Somehow we knew he was safe as we would have found him if he had been just on the streets.   The following day a lady came to the clinic saying that her dog had been missing for over a month and had returned last night, she was very worried as he was so thin and wanted us to check him over.  Sure enough, it was Huesos, who had recognised where he was from going on his walks and had taken himself home.  His owners were overjoyed to see him as he had been missing for so long they thought that he had died.  We were also overjoyed to know that he had such a loving home and we now knew his real name was Rex.  Rex is now doing really well at home, and although it will take time for him to fully recuperate, he is getting stronger day by day.   



    Leave a Comment
  6. Galapa-Cat

    By Clint Kuban

    This is the story of a cat whose life we saved in the Galapagos. In an effort to spread the message of proper animal care, Morgan and I went walking door to door offering free veterinary service to anyone we came across. A group of men, constructing chairs out of logs and carving intricate turtle statues out of tree trunks, led us to a cat in their backyard they said was dying. We followed a dirt path around the corner to a small fenced in area of the yard. Lying in the dirt, covered in dirt and ants, was an orange neutered male cat in obvious need of emergency care.

    dad4 Morgan explained the seriousness of the situation to the man, and we hurried back to the D.A.D center to grab a cat carrier. We returned just in time to see the cat hobble over to a hole in the fence and disappear into a neighbor’s yard. Thankfully, the owner quickly wrangled the little guy and we were on our way back to the clinic to save a life. “I’ll bet he’s blocked,” Morgan speculated on the walk back.

    Sure enough, when we examined him back at the clinic and palpated his abdomen, the most obvious feature was a rock hard bladder. A quick shot of sedative settled the very painful gato down enough for us to relieve some pressure by removing a small amount of urine via hypodermic needle. A quick look at the urine sample under the microscope showed what caused the obstruction: small amounts of struvite crystals and a lot of white blood cells. After a little more anesthetic, he was ready for us to drain the rest of his bladder and give him some comfort. His eyes very clearly showed the horrible discomfort he was in, as he was prepared for the catheter to be placed, and for the bladder to be flushed and drained. I really felt for the poor animal.

    dad5The urine we drained was bloody to say the least. After several rounds of flushing and draining his bladder, the relief was apparent as he looked around to his hind end to see what was making him feel better. When the owner and his daughter came by to pick their cat up, Morgan explained that his cat was possibly only hours away from death, now resting comfortably in the clinic. The impact hit home noticeably on the family as the young daughter shed a few tears. The father guaranteed that he would rush the cat right back if he ever looked ill again.

    One of the goals of Darwin animal doctors is to change the opinion of the local population that cats and dogs are merely invasive species. They are actually family members who deserve to eat proper food, own a collar and get spayed/neutered. Change is clearly occurring in the Galapagos, a place so famous for its evolution.


    Leave a Comment