Our first Day on the job involved a trip to Las Flores, which was only about 20min from Catarina. We pulled up to a home of one of Oscars church members, unloaded our supplies, and got cracking, I mean cutting and sticking. A steady stream of patients ambled up to our spot and waited patiently for their turn. Well actually to be more accurate, the dogs were mostly pulled or dragged to us as they are not used to having a rope tied around their necks, as there are no leash laws or dog license requirements, so they basically have free roam all day and safe sleeping at night (although they are still free and able to bark incessantly at gringos anytime of the night). The people are very patient, and are never in a hurry or rude, unlike some people in New England, but the dogs will run away at the first sign of a vet with a needle. We split the patients into 2 line, a surgery line and a routine health line, with all the dogs receiving an injection of ivermectin which takes care of most internal parasites, and topical frontline, which takes care of the external parasites. Surgery dogs, all spays today, because the men seem to think it is ok to spay females but not neuter males, are given a pre-surgery injection of a sedative/narcotic, and when they are quiet and sleepy, we put in an IV catheter, clip and clean, and off we go – I mean off the uterus and ovaries go. Things went pretty smoothly, although some dogs start to wake up in the middle of a surgery, and you need to scramble to get them asleep before they jump off the table; and some are so deep they don’t wake up for an hour, but mostly things went pretty smoothly from my point of view; the dogs may think differently, but since they can’t keep quiet or tell time I don’t usually ask their opinion.

After a good, hot, and successful day of work, we came back to our base cabins at Oscar and Tamy’s and went swimming and relaxed for a little bit before dinner and then devotions. We have a wonderful but small team this year. We always have such great students and techs and assistants every year, and this year is no exception. We have 3 third-year vet students from Illinois, Megan, Rebecca, and Rachel, a vet tech, Tiffany from Montana, and 4 vets, Justin an equine vet from Texas with his son Carter, Jerry and Joan, and myself. Our team is about half the size of previous years, mostly due to the political situation in Nicaragua, but we have done the same volume of work as always, thanks to everyone working so well. It makes working here enjoyable.

It is fascinating to see all the parts of a different culture. Our hosts for the clinic live in a house that is a patchwork of scraps of wood and corrugated aluminum and cement blocks and for outdoor lighting a bare fluorescent tube light with wires directly connected to the ends and stuck up 15ft on a pole. Next door was their 1 chair barber shop, the family business. It is all very simple and basic but provides all they need to live on. People have so much less but are content and happy. The roads and small shops are busy and full and lively. It should be that way with all of us, not focusing on being busy and getting stuff, but on people and living life to the fullest. I enjoy it here, even though there is no skiing.

And last night I put in the earplugs and didn’t hear anything! Jerry said it was because the dogs were quiet; I think they were trying to figure out what was making that noise in cabin 6 that sounded like snoring.

Blessings from Catarina
Dr. Mike