Monday, July 07, 2008

Young Jack

There are a lot of street dogs here, and somehow many of them make it through life: skinny, riddled with worms, ticks, fleas, mange and god knows what else, but many make it. Everything here is tough, from the people to the horses, to the dogs to the damn mosquitoes. You can tell which foreigners live here by how tough they are, how weathered, rangy, leathery they look.

A dog has been living at school for maybe 2 months. We thought he belonged to our neighbours. He ‘s rail thin, belly full of worms, missing hair in patches. From what I can see he lives on the scraps that go to our compost. And he’s a sweet loving young dog: happy to see you, eager to please, mellow beyond words: he lets the cat eat from the compost first and hasn’t chased a single chicken. Because of his condition we asked the neighbours to pull themselves together and he disappeared for a few days. I was worried – they don’t seem to be animal lovers. But a week later he returned same as ever. The children fed him more scraps and I began to take more care of him. School has been out for a week, but yesterday we had a meeting. He appeared crying, could barely walk. He’s all swollen underneath, with several deep cuts that could be barbed wire or perhaps stones. The flesh around his genitals is inflamed, raised, leaking puss and fluid, it looks like he has an abscess at the top of a back leg. He is a mess. He wouldn’t let us touch his back end.

I fed him and with a friend tried to put a sulphur ointment on his inflammation and hydrogen peroxide on his wounds. He howled and cried the whole time. The vet came out this morning and gave him a shot for the pain and inflammation. She’ll be back tomorrow to tranquilize him and have a better look. He’ll make it, he’s a survivor. She thinks a car hit him. Someone went to the neighbours. They say he’s not theirs. This is good, he’s now free to be taken care of. I have the closest relationship to him among the staff at school, so he’s now my responsibility, at least until he is well again. He looks to me like a Jack, such a nice dog. I can’t bring him home – he has too many parasites and one vet bill is enough. And anyway he couldn’t walk that far. He will continue to live at school until he’s clear of worms and mange at least, then we’ll re-access the situation. We have several new families moving to the area – one of them surely will want a dog.

Hoss came to me when he was two months old, a month after I arrived in Costa Rica. Lady J turned up on my doorstep last May and didn’t leave. I really don’t want another dog. Hoss and LJ are a perfect pair, a third would shift the balance. Young Jack is a lovely dog and it will be easy to find him a home when he’s fit and healthy.