Monday 22nd June: A tough decision

It’s another rushed morning as I have a lunch meeting in Central.  It turns out to be one of those never-ending Chinese meals, with course after course appearing.  I’m not used to eating like this, a snatched sandwich being the most I ever manage.

Being Monday, I have to face AFCD and the weekend’s intake. There are even more puppies, three tiny babies added to the collection already waiting.  So many new lives, all depending on me to save them.  Nobody else is going to take them, but I already have so many.  I tell the staff I’ll take the pups tomorrow, and go to one dog that I know I have to take out.  She’s a sharpei cross, a very lovely girl who is somebody’s pet, or was, until snatched by the dog catchers. She’s wearing a nice red collar, and she’s very sweet.  She’s also very pregnant, so I call her Mary.

 The shih tzu boy is also ready to go and I can see him huffing and puffing as I go into his kennel.  Prepared for an attack I approach carefully, but the poor guy is only stressed and anxious, and I have no trouble slipping a leash around his neck.  At “check out” I give him a bit of time before having him microchipped and rabies vaccinated.  I’ve learned over the years that this helps a lot, and almost all dogs respond to some quiet words and gentle handling before they are lifted onto the table for the injections.

 Mary and Nickel, the shih tzu, are checked in for surgery the following day.  For Nickel this is a simple castration,  but for Mary the desexing operation means the removal of her pups.  It seems hard and cruel, but she is a young dog, not even one year old, and it’s far better that the pups are never born.  There are already far too many unwanted puppies born every day, only to be killed at a very young age.

I have arranged for one of my doglets, Cairo, to be brought over from Lamma to have her skin checked.  Several of the doglets have skin problems, and although I’ve already had a few of them checked the tests have been inconclusive.  Now the bald patches are becoming whole areas of hair loss, and there are bumps and spots appearing too.  Cairo is rigid with fear, peeing uncontrollably on the consult table as she is lifted up.  I know she’ll never be able to find a home as she’s far too timid, even though she’s quite happy and relatively normal at home.  I have too many dogs like this and have sworn never to take ‘scaredy’ pups again.  Scared puppies grow into scared dogs.

 Cairo’s skin scrape shows a bad case of demodex, the mites clearly visible under the microscope. At least we have a diagnosis, even if it’s an unwelcome one.  This type of mange isn’t easy to treat as the mites live deep under the surface of the skin, and it can take a long time to get rid of them all.  In fact, all dogs have demodex to a certain extent, but for most of them it doesn’t cause any problems.  It’s stress or a compromised immune system that bring on the symptoms, most typically hair loss round the eyes and face.  As in humans (we are, after all, also animals), puberty is a time of stress for dogs and demodex is most common then.  Cairo will start on oral treatment combined with highly noxious Amitraz rinses.

Knowing that I have a whole bunch of doglets with the same type of skin issues back on Lamma the vet, Karthi, arranges a home visit for Saturday.  We can also get a whole load of baby pups vaccinated at the same time which saves me the trouble of getting them to Pokfulam, but I wonder if Karthi realizes what she’s letting herself in for. 

 I try to get to bed as early as possible, knowing that I will almost certainly be woken several times during the night, and that I will definitely be up at dawn.  I usually turn my phone off at about 8pm or I will continue to get calls until late.  Sure enough, having forgotten about my phone, it starts ringing after I have fallen asleep.  Thinking it must be an emergency I answer.  Someone in Shek O has picked up two stray dogs and wants to know if she can bring them to our kennels.  It’s 11pm at night!!!  Good grief.  I tell her to call me in the morning and make sure my phone is off before falling back to sleep.

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