A few weeks back Donna got an email from a guy on the Corn Islands, on the east coast of Nicaragua. He was very interested in getting a spay/neuter blitz going out there as street dogs are a problem and no one is dealing with it. Super nice guy. Turns out he's from Colorado, too.
I'm not entirely sure of how this all happened but from what I understand he and his girlfriend went out there, found a puppy that started feeding and became aware of the problem out there. He found a nice home for the pup on the island and has been going out to the Corn Islands from the States once a month to work on setting up the spay/neuter blitz and see the pup.
The puppy, unfortunately, broke with demodectic mange. Demodex is nothin', mange wise. My dog, Seamus, had mange when he was younger and he occasionally will get a spot or two of it. Basically it's a mite that most dogs carry - it's passed through the mother. It's not contagious to other dogs. Most dogs will never have an outbreak of it. But if a dog is carrying a heavy load of it and there's some sort of immune system crash -ta-da, let there be demodectic mange.
Minnow, the pup, had a reaction to some flea control and broke with massive, monstrous demodex. Lost all her hair.
Our other dogs have had sarcoptic mange - scabies. Big, scary, contagious awful mange. Demodex, not being contagious, is the equivilent of the sniffles to us. No problem. But sarna - the spanish all-purpose word for mange - is a huge fear to Nicas here. And trying to explain that this is a different mange that is harmless and non-contagious is pointless. Minnow needed to get off the island before someone tried to poison her. Plus her owner on the island - the home the American found for her - has a restaraunt and a bald dog running around...yeah. No.
Until Minnow grows her hair back, an event that should hopefully coincide with the spay/neuter blitz on Corn Islands in June, she’s joined the herd.
The first few days she was a little unsure of this whole mess. Unlike the other dogs at the clinic, Minnow has a home, a bed, an owner. She was scared of the other dogs. She thought the food sucked. The daily ivermectin injections merited temper tantrums - squealing like we were axe murdering her.
But puppies are puppies and puppies, like elastic bands, stretch. First she liked Sherman. Sherman was okay. She would play with Sherman. Then maybe Tessa, our boarder who is about her size was alright, too. Maybe a little fun to chase around.
And then within three days she was being a royal pain in the ass to the other dogs, eating like a beast, tolerating the injections sans theatrics, chewing on my toes and stealing my bag if I put it down.
This is a good sign. And she’s getting fuzzy, too.
Oddly enough her best friend at the clinic is the one dog I fretted the most about her getting along with: Ramon. Ramon can be cranky and impatient with the puppy. Though he’s an enormous marshmallow, he has this fantastic guard dog act that scares the shit out of people passing the gate. He doesn’t like to play. Except with Minnow. They wrestle around like idiots, chase each other. She grabs his cheek and leads him around. He flops over on his back and paws at her.
Sadly, Ramon leaves on Saturday. Not sadly, really. He’s going to a good home. Godspeed, Ramon. But Minnow will miss him.
You have to give the little bald monster credit. I can see why the nice guy from Colorado and her owner on the Corn Islands are so enamored with her. She’s capable of charming the hell out of Ramon.
A side note: we are clearing out. Tessa leaves for Canada tomorrow. Ramon goes on Saturday. Freda has a possible placement on a butterfly farm. Still, however, Porsha and Sherman wait. Though Porsha is taking a few days off from clinic life and staying with Nick and Toni as she had a reaction to tick treatment. No, they can’t keep her - they have other street dogs they’ve adopted. But she’s taking a breather.
A sad side note: The question is not will other dogs move into their places, it’s which dogs. Nick found a half-dead puppy in the gutter that will be coming in. And there’s a cornocopia of other sick, sad, really-bad-at-being-street-dogs street dogs who are good clinic dog candidates. The question is not will but who and how do you even go about choosing?
A Few Words on Ramon
I’ve been having some wireless issues that make posting tough. In the past few weeks I’ve been able to spit out the odd update here and there but I realize the one dog I’ve kinda ignored is Ramon, originally Ticky. When I posted the picture of his ear I got a whole bunch of emails about how gross that was. Welcome to Nica Street Dogs 101. But poor Ramon is now famous only for having a really gross picture of his ears online.
The original idea behind Ramon was a catch, fix and release. He was doing okay on Calle Santa Lucia. He wasn't underweight. He had a touch of sarna when I first got here but I gave him three weeks worth of magic hot dogs - hot dogs with ivermectin pills in them - and that took care of that. Plus he seemed to be an old dog. He was always just sort of lying around by the pulperia, napping in front of my house.
And then there was the tick incident. I don't know how possible it is to spend eight hours ripping ticks off of a dog and not forge some sort of bond. The verdict came in: Ticky stayed. And he got a new name: Ramon.
Like pretty much every other dog here he popped positive for erlichia, a tick born illness easily treatable with antibiotics. We treated him. And with his ten thousand hitchhikers removed, he started to get his energy back. As he did we discovered a few things: he was a young, energetic dog once his entire circulatory system wasn't being used to power a small city of ticks. He was a little racist - he barked at Nica men. And he was kind of a pervert - he doesn't bite, perse, but he does like to grab your ass when you come in. Just a nip, but still.
The racism he got over. He actually wound up enamored with the school's quitador, a younger Nica guy, and would wait for him every night by the door. The perversion will probably always be an intergral part of who Ramon is. He knows better than to try it with me but pretty much everyone else gets a nice ass grab when they walk through the gate. Men, women, children, other dogs, doesn't matter. He's going for the butt.
I'll miss Ramon. Ass grabbing aside, there was a quiet, stoic side to him that reminded me of my old lab, Simon, who died a few years back at the age of eighteen. And he was a good guard dog. Aside from the signature butt-bite he never would hurt anyone but he was really good at raising a huge fuss if anyone was at the gate. Reassuring when I would stay at the clinic after dark.
Godspeed, Ramon. May life present you with an absence of ticks and an abundance of passing behinds to nip.