Goodbye to Dahab

Our last day of work!

Many thanks to Anna and her husband for supplying the room to work in. Very luxurious. Also thanks to Karin and Nousa, the souls of Animal Welfare Dahab. These people work day in day out looking after the dogs and cats of Dahab. They are truly amazing. Dr Amira, the local Egyptian vet also gives her services throughout the year. And then there are the numerous helpers who bring in cats and dogs for us to neuter or treat. Thank you. We walk away and you just carry on!

Local heroes

It is always rewarding to meet our patients on the street. Leany, a dog we castrated about 5 years ago is still hanging around the best restaurants.

Two days after castration and amputating this dog’s tail we met him back on the beach. Happy as Larry and with no bad feelings toward us.

We also met some of the cats on a walk. We ear tip so that they are easily recognizable as having been neutered. Their clipping in the flank is also clearly visible. The dogs are given a microchip as identification.

Tomorrow we’re back in England – expecting rain…

Karen

 

Dahab, a milestone: 400 animals neutered

This is our 7th visit to Dahab as part of the TNR (trap,neuter and release) programme of Animal Welfare Dahab.

Today we neutered our 400th animal as part of these projects. (That is over the 7 trips and not as Lisa’s daughter thought  – all in one day. She is very proud of her mother!).

Hopefully we have had some effect on the health and well being of these animals. The number of dogs seem to have diminished, but the cat population seems unaltered. We console ourselves with the thought that we have improved the lives of some of the individuals.

We have also amputated a few legs and tails, fixed a few wounds, extracted a few teeth, fixed a few hernias. We also met some dedicated animal friends.

Return to Dahab

Lisa and I are back in Dahab, Egypt, for another TNR programme. We are working with Animal Welfare Dahab, who do all the preparation and catching/collecting and returning of the animals. This time we have teamed up with a lovely vet from Italy.

Today we neutered 14 animals – a good start.

We are working in a room loaned to us by the new Pet Hotel. A very exciting feature in the room is AIR CONDITIONING. Lovely for us but also nice for the cats and dogs. But to be fair, mainly great for us.

It is not all work. After work we went snorkelling in the magnificent Red Sea. We did our bit for the environment and collected as much plastic as we could. I don’t think that the environment noticed but it made us feel a bit better.

Thank you for all your donations which have trickled in over the past year.  I have forwarded the money to Animal Welfare Dahab. Every penny is spent on neutering and treating the animals here, mainly street dogs and cats. As usual Cogges Vets  has donated time and drugs and equipment. We believe that this is a very good cause and that we can make a difference.

 

 

Autonomous dogs

We spent some time on an island in the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia recently, primarily so that Karen could do some serious diving in the strong currents and see some breath-taking scenery and marine life.

The island is sparsely populated, as is the resort, but there are some dogs who stroll around and don’t really belong to anybody.
A bit like the dogs Karen & Lisa see in Dahab, street dogs that occasionally attach themselves to a person or an address, but remain, strictly speaking, owner-less.

I considered calling them ‘free-range’ dogs, but then remembered something that we were told in Vietnam. Although they are being phased out, there are still some eating houses in Vietnam, clearly indicated, where you can get dogs. Repulsed yet curious, we asked our guide how and where the dogs were obtained. He smiled broadly.
‘Oh,’ he said, ‘Don’t worry, they are free-range.’
Our utterly horrified expressions puzzled him.

So, not free range, although obviously these dogs on the island range freely. Maybe self-determined? No, that imports a whole philosophical discussion about free will.
How about autonomous?

So here are the 2 autonomous dogs we saw most frequently. (click to enlarge)

They don’t have names, at least not ones given to them by humans, but they are great pals and spend a lot of time together. Occasionally you’ll find one of them sleeping on your porch, and somehow that makes you feel special, chosen.

Early one morning I heard some growling and barking, went to look and saw the 2 of them behind our cottage, in-between the trees, looking up. I followed their gaze and saw a cuscus scuttling along the branches, casting anxious looks at the 2 excited dogs. I’d never seen one of these marsupials in the wild (or, come to think of it, anywhere else) and quickly fetched my camera.

The dogs were very animated and even tried to climb the trees. Eventually the little animal managed to jump from branch to branch, tree to tree and the dogs lost sight of it – or perhaps they merely got bored.

We sometimes talk to people here in England who express their dismay at seeing autonomous dogs during their vacations abroad, especially in deprived areas. But frequently these dogs are ok, they may not live to be 12 or 15, like some of our pets, but many of them live full and carefree lives.

Obviously we do not want to see any animals suffer, but we should be careful with any conclusions we draw when we see dogs or cats somewhere on a beach, or even in a city (I’ve written before about the autonomous dogs we saw in Santiago; see here: https://coggesblogges.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/chile-dogs/)

Harry

More news from Dahab

One of the reasons for returning to Dahab last month was to help a Saluki-type dog who had been suffering with complications after fracturing bones in a front leg. The injury occurred a few months ago and a very kind Egyptian lady and her husband had taken him in and cared for him.

Fracture repair in Dahab is not easy. Radiography is basic and apart from casting and resting, other procedures such as pinning, external fixation or plating are non existent We are always reminded during these visits about how fortunate we are back home.
The dog was unable to use the left foreleg which had actually become a hindrance. Seeing him I was reminded of my grandfather who had a paralysed arm after a stroke and frequently complained of the dead weight of this arm.

Karin of Animal Welfare Dahab had asked if we could amputate the leg. After examining the dog we decided that this was indeed the best option. The procedure can take quite a bit of time and without gas anaesthesia or our full arsenal of painkillers we set to work. Lisa did her magic with the drugs available including local anaesthesia and the surgery went well.

Visiting the dog 2 days later was a joy – he was desperate to go for a walk on the beach and looked so much happier and comfortable. It felt really good!

Thank you to all the people who support us back home and also thank you to Karin and the people who help her at Animal Welfare Dahab. Also thanks to Dr Amira for letting us use all her equipment and premises and for assisting us during the operation.

 

 

Karen

Return to Dahab, October 2018

On Monday Lisa and I attended a meeting organised by Animal Welfare Dahab (AWD) and their supporters, to present the new mayor of Dahab, General Tarek, their vision of how to approach the stray dog and cat population in the town.
They had managed to persuade the authorities to temporarily stop the random poisoning of street dogs, and needed to get the new mayor on board to stop this permanently, and offer an alternative plan.

All the important people attended.
The mayor, the chief vet for the South Sinai, and the local state vet were all there.
Also present was Dr Amira, who is a local vet and a great help to AWD.
Then there were various officials, a representative of the Bedouin, AWD, the Dutch NGO Stichting Zwerfdieren Dahab, and a few local supporters.

Michel (from Stichting Zwerfdieren Dahab) had prepared an excellent power-point presentation which was very successful. He managed to swing the mayor’s opinion away from basically locking all street dogs in compounds. Instead the Trap, Neuter, Release program (TNR) will be allowed to continue and a government assisted tagging system of privately owned dogs will begin.
We are very grateful that the mayor has accepted this approach to the problem.

Since the first TNR project in 2010 the street dog population has decreased by almost 50%. AWD has neutered and vaccinated over 500 dogs and local AWD supporters monitor the dogs in their areas.
We are proud to be part of the solution to a very complex problem.

Karen

Birds

Our house martins have gone.
We don’t know exactly when they left as they tend to disappear quietly. No big deal, they seem to say.
But it’s a huge deal.
When our house martins leave they embark on an astounding journey.
Not much is known about their destination, as they’re not often seen once they reach Africa. One theory is that they fly and feed above the rain-forests, and thus escape detection.

I look at these little guys flitting in and out of those amazing nests under the eaves of our house in the Cotswolds, and I cannot imagine them flying above a tropical rain-forest in Africa. Let alone imagine that long and arduous journey.

How they manage to navigate from here to there (and vice versa) is very complex, or, to put it another way, we don’t really know. It seems they get information from the stars as well as from landmarks, but the earth’s magnetic fields play a role too. We do not understand how – although there is an interesting theory concerning quantum entanglement.
Really.

We have about 10 or 15 nests. Not all of them are in use during the summer, but we usually have 5 or 6 couples nesting, each producing 2 or 3 broods of 2 or 3 chicks.

At night we hear small sounds from the nests close to our bedroom window, tiny chattering noises as they seem to hold long conversations.
It sounds so cosy.
Some nests last for years, and a side-effect of their extremely tidy and clean housekeeping is that we wind up with heaps of bird poo in various places, which they refuse to clean up.
So we have to.
But really, that is such a small price to pay for the pleasure they give us every summer.

Occasionally a young martin, in a failed attempt to enter a nest, flies into our bedroom and hides behind the curtain. When you carefully pick it up, you feel that surprise that everyone feels when they pick up a bird: it’s just feathers and air.
I used to think that their hollow bones make them lighter, but that’s not true. Hollow bones have to be dense, else they would be too brittle, so a bird skeleton weighs about the same as a mammal skeleton of a similar size.

They always return in April. We listen for them, we watch for them, and when we finally spot those familiar fast flying shapes, the little arrows that dive through the sky, we somehow feel better about everything.

The RSPB assigns colours to birds to indicate how endangered they are. Red means globally threatened, amber means generally a decline in population, and green means all is good.
The house martin is on amber, their numbers are declining in Europe.
There are various and complex reasons for this, but one reason is that people don’t like having them around.
Sadly, there are a lot of articles on-line telling you how to get rid of these fabulous birds and the perceived mess they make. Yet many of those articles remind the reader that house martins are protected by law.

Please keep our martins where they belong. They’re called house martins, remember?

Harry