We would like to thank Our Hen House for helping us spread word about the Galapagos islands! Listen to our President Tod Emko talk about DAD and its new comic book project, featuring DAD’s Spokesdog and superhero Pigpig!
A massive victory for the world and the whole environmental movement was achieved today; The Hague announced today that Japan’s whaling operations in the Southern Ocean are no longer classified as scientific research.
I traveled to the Galapagos to do work with D.A.D. which was the best experience of my life in more ways than one. I was able to explore and learn in the field I want to be in for my life career.
In the second week of my trip I traveled with the two vets Tjarda and Jochem to the biggest island in the Galapagos; Isabela. We had an extra long day with 5 dogs and 4 cats to all spay and neuter, so we decided to have a nice treat and go to one of the family owned restaurants in the town there. On our way there we ran into this cute little pit bull with these huge tata’s (which gave her the nickname on the island by tata grandes) and we played with her until she reached her point of following us. On our way home Tjarda mentioned that the last time she saw her she was swollen from being so pregnant and we both wondered where her puppies might be.
For some reason I couldn’t get this little pup off my mind. We went back into town to the same restaurant where we saw her the first time but she wasn’t anywhere to be found. During dinner, I had my back to the entrance of the restaurant, and in the middle of our meal Tjarda looks over and says “isn’t that your little friend?” Sure enough there she was standing outside of the door stairing at me.
After that I decided to find out more about this pup with the big tata’s and the big brown eyes. Some of the things I found was that she has had multiple litters of puppies and that two weeks prior she was hit by a car and could not walk for a week so they had to give her puppies away. No one even brought her to the free vet clinic when she couldn’t walk for so long. One time while playing with her Tjarda gave her a brief exam so she could see if there was any damage from the accident. Tjarda did not see any problems were her back end but we did notice her bleeding from her vulva area. She wasn’t in heat so it had to be an infection somewhere inside. She also had a large patch of demodex on the back of her neck that caused her to lose her hair and it would sometimes bleed from being so itchy and she was very skinny.
I went and talked to ABG to see if I could bring her home with me and what the steps would be. It was our last day on Isabela right before we were boarding the boat I was finally told that I could take her home with me.
After that news I figured I should give her a name since she will now be my dog. Multiple ideas went through everyone’s head and we were stuck on Dory for some time since she was so happy whenever we saw her just like the fish from Finding Nemo. But the name that I thought fit her the most was Marina, they call sea lions in the Galapagos Lobo Marino which means ‘wolf from the sea’. I though since she was a beautiful shade of brown and matching eyes she could be my little wolf from the sea.
So it was settled Marina was coming back with us, however I didn’t have crate big enough for her when we took the boat back to Santa Cruz. I held her on my lap while Tjarda put the catheter in on a rocking boat. When we arrived back in Santa Cruz we started to prepare her for surgery so that she would have enough healing time before I leave and put her on a plane. During her surgery I took some blood and ran a Lyme heartworm test and she came out positive for heartworm. Her heartworm was severe enough to cause her to have a heart murmur. knowing the heartworm treatment is a long process Tjarda and Jochem thought it was best to start her on doxycyline then so she could start her treatment when she arrived home.
After her surgery we started to see how she may have been treated before our paths crossed. She had never been inside and was so scared when you picked her up and placed her inside she would just freeze until you opened the door to let her out. She was also submissive with men or strangers in general and wouldn’t take food out of your hands. She would wait for you to drop it and she would sneak over grab it and run to a corner like she was scared to get yeld at for taking the food.
With Tjarda and Jochem’s help slowly started to get her to come out of her shell. Leaving Santa Cruz and heading back home, all our paper work was in order and we had an appointment set up in Guayaquil for her vaccines. The D.A.D. clinic was nice enough to let me borrow the huge carrier that fit Marina perfectly for her journey home. Once on the mainland we ran into a small bump in the road when the airlines said they would not allow her to board the plane because of her breed. We went back and fixed the confusion by putting mix on her breed.
After that it was smooth sailing to the USA. She was a little fearful of her new surroundings and it didn’t help that she went from beautiful Galapagos weather to cold Delaware. She has opened up miraculously since arriving in October. She will take food right out of your hand and she she is now fearless and will love on anyone who comes close enough for her tongue to reach. Her heartworm treatment is almost done she does not have a heart murmur anymore which means the treatment is working. Two more weeks and she will be be able to run and play as much as her heart desires. Fetch is one of her new favorite games, she she will play it with a tennis ball or with her many favorite toys all of which she picked out herself at the store.
I am training her to be a companion pet and to possibly be a therapy dog at a nursing home or children’s hospital. Her first experience with snow was quite hilarious. She walked like a cat and would pick each paw up and shake it to get that cold wet stuff off. My mom did spoil her and buy her a jacket until she was acclimated to the weather but now I have to bribe her to get out of the snow she loves it so much.
So that for now is all the news on my Marina. I saved her from her life but I think I am getting the most out of this relationship. When I came home I had some hard times come my way with the loss of my Pop and a week later my cat and among other things. I had her through it all. When I needed a hug she was right there waiting for me to squeeze her, when I need someone to make me laugh she would so something goofy or roll on the floor like a sea lion or she would just be there to snuggle and listen. So in reality my little wolf from the sea saved me.
Our first vet of the year, Dr. Ainoa Claudin, arrived in January, and February was her first full month. She’s already lead a team of volunteers from Galapagos, Britain, and Norway. And in their first full month, they’ve treated 181 patients.
One of our measures of success is the variety of ailments we treat in our patients. Seeing a wider variety of problems means that clients are starting to take their animals’ health seriously. Our education programs are reaching more people, and more clients are starting to notice when their animals are having problems that need to be tended to. We’re now treating all kinds of diseases, infections, parasites, accidents, tumors, and of course, sterilizations. We’ve had to perform euthanasias, but at least we can be a humane option for terminally ill animals.
Also, more and more clients are bringing in patients for general checkups, which is a huge victory. Preventative medicine is a much more sustainable health model than just treating emergencies.
Itziar is an example of a part of DAD’s vision for the future. She is a local girl, originally from Santa Cruz, who is now studying veterinary medicine in Quito. Itziar is in her second year of university and also speaks English! During her last holiday, she spent 10 days volunteering at the DAD clinic, where she was involved in all aspects of patient care. This included admissions, anesthesia, surgery and discharge appointments, as well as other consultations. This gave her practical experience alongside her studies, which will help pull things together in her lectures. Itziar worked with four other English speaking volunteers (2 vets, 2 students), giving her practice with this too.
The main reason she is a good example of DAD’s vision for the future is because she is a local girl. We believe that the key to the success of the charity and the care it provides is through the local community. Therefore our vision is to be linked with veterinary schools in Ecuador, with groups of students volunteering here on a rotational basis. This will benefit the animals, the charity and of course the students themselves, giving them the chance to gain practical experience whilst learning English in the unique place that is the Galapagos Islands, or near home if they are from Santa Cruz.