About 6 weeks ago Annie, one of our cats, began to lose her appetite. She gradually and persistently lost weight. Karen took her into work and checked everything that there is to check, and the conclusion was that she was simply breaking down gradually, due to old age.

Annie was one of those cats who would not harm a fly, let alone a bird, she simply sauntered through her little life, occasionally asking for a cuddle and reciprocating with warm purring. She had the habit of finding a perfect place – on a pillow, in a dog basket, on the arm of a chair – and sticking to that one place for 4 or 5 weeks. Then suddenly she wasn’t there and you’d discover her in or on a new favourite place.

Before Karen left for Dahab we had that discussion. You know the one: is Annie’s time up? Is she suffering? We decided, no, she seemed quite comfortable – ate a little food, drank a little water, and slept.
But she kept losing weight and became emaciated. A couple of days ago she began to wobble a little bit when she walked. This got worse yesterday morning, and yesterday evening I could see and hear that breathing was becoming an effort for her.

So I called Karen in Egypt and we had that discussion again.
I then called Sarah, one of our vets, and she came round and calmly nudged Annie to a different place. (Sarah was wonderful and I would have offered her a position at Cogges if she didn’t already work there.)

And Annie – Annie has moved again, and for the next few weeks I’ll undoubtedly expect to see her on the arm of a favourite chair or in a dog basket. She won’t be there, but I think she’s found a good place now.




Day 10 in Dahab

Final total 116 animals neutered. We all went up to Karin’s house up in the mountains for a slap-up meal.
Met more volunteers. Amazing how much is involved in a project like this. We just swan in and start operating.

Our big story was that of Leni (he has a few names, this is the one we use). After the procedures the bitches are kept in cages at the back of the building (‘surgery’) overnight, but the boys are generally taken back to ‘their’ areas as soon as they are well awake. Leni was returned to where he lives: on the beachfront between two dive centres. He was then brought back to be re-sutured after he had chewed away at his stitches. After the re-suturing we gave him a buster collar, also known as the cone of shame, and kept him in overnight. We think some well-meaning kind soul let him out overnight, as the heavy gate was open when we returned in the morning. Numerous search parties were sent out to no avail, and Lisa and I had a very bad night worrying about this dog wandering in the desert wearing a cone of shame.

This morning we were a bit late going in to the surgery, so we took the fast route instead of our usual scenic route, and out of the desert, suddenly, Leni appeared and came running towards us. He snuggled up to us. Lisa shed a tear, while I of course stayed calm. We got Karin to pick him up by car and he now lives at Karin’s home until his collar can be removed.

A happy ending.


Day 9 in Dahab

Very busy day today, but only neutered 10 animals. Treated quite a few others. We think Dr Atef is handing out his card to every Dick, Tom and Ahmed and inviting them to have their animals treated by me. One man even brought in a moribund goat which died 1 minute after he arrived – before I even got to see it.
We have had visits from numerous authorities – today apparently the most important, the head of veterinary services in the south Sinai area! He approves of the project, wants us to do the rest of the south Sinai, and as long as we give him 2 months notice we are welcome to come back anytime and he is ‘above’ all the others, so there! He also asked for one of the Animal Welfare Dahab t-shirts. A true fan.
A few days ago Ruben went up to one of the hotels at the crack of dawn and was met by the distressed owner, Gilly, who had seen that a guest had left the cover off the well and a cat had fallen in. Our hero rigged up a bucket on a string and managed do fish the cat out, not an easy task. He warmed her up with a bottle filled with warm water and brought her in to the clinic. We dutifully spayed her, because that is what we are here to do and she is now back home.
Tomorrow is our last day and we are running a bit short on supplies. Lisa will be weaving her magic with the anaesthetic combinations, and I will do as she tells me with the suture material she has left.
We have already passed our target of 100 animals.

Days 7 & 8 in Dahab

Yesterday was very busy, but after work we were treated to a  Bedouin meal in the desert . Definitely the tastiest chicken I have ever eaten. Beautiful evening, amazing scenery. A big thank you to Ruben who also helps us every day.
Today we operated in the morning and managed to neuter 10 animals.
Our grand total is now 94.
In the afternoon we held a talk as part of the Dahab festival. Animal Welfare Dahab is providing ‘First Aid Kits against poisoning’.
After the talk Karin took us over to the lagoon where a camel race was being held. The race was over pretty quickly, but the lively discussions before and after took a considerable amount of time and were great fun to watch. Apparently the winner cheated. Not sure how.
We then took a gorgeous young dog which we had neutered back to the hotel where she hangs out. The owners of the hotel will be looking after her.
We had another female brought in which had been neutered previously – fortunately she had also been chipped.
We also seem to have developed into a medical drop-in centre – a bit awkward when your drug supplies are so limited, and you don’t have much equipment.

Nine o’clock and I am off to bed – two more days of surgery and then we have a break before we return home..


Day 6 in Dahab

Chris (Lisa’s husband) arrived with Maya (who turns 2 in April) this evening. Had a flat tyre on the way to Luton and then a 5 hour flight with a toddler. Lisa very happy to have them back with her.
One of the locals who runs a dive centre was chatting to us this morning about the problems they are having with countries advising against travel outside of Sharm.  He had just heard that the same advice has now been lifted from Burkina Faso – his question: where would you rather be?
The locals are arranging a festival because of the anniversary of the uprising (25 January) and we have been asked to give a talk. There is also a 5, 10 and 25 km run – come on Harry!
We managed to neuter one of the main alpha dogs this morning. I don’t want to be around when he has to explain that one to his friends.  He came in all tough and then like most of them was leaning up against us before he went home. The dogs living close to the clinic don’t seem to want to leave once they have recovered from their anaesthetics.  Nice soft beds and plenty of cuddles.
We have a new student, Khaled,  in his 4th year. He spent 15 hours in a bus getting to us. Very keen.
Dr Atef is doing very well. Dr Amira came in today to learn how to use a cat catheter – she is very keen on improving and expanding her skills. She also has an amazing sense of humour. Always great fun to talk to.
Neutered 15 today, very busy.

Day 5 in Dahab

We are both very tired at the end of the day – not quite sure why. There were a few confrontations which we were not a part of but which make one realise what a hard battle the volunteers of AWD have to fight.
A big discussion with a local doctor ensued when Ruben, Karin and Serena tried to pick up 2 dogs from outside a hospital. The mayor of Dahab and the town council are fortunately behind the initiative, so at least we do have the backing of the authorities and many locals in Dahab.

On a positive note, we met Tripod outside the bakery this morning, looking fat and happy (the cat). On our previous visit we had amputated her badly fractured leg and spayed her and fixed a hernia in her side.

My first operation this morning involved trying to find the remnant of an ovary in a previously neutered bitch which kept coming in to season. The vet who had performed her operation was unsure about how to correct the mistake. I was lucky and found the remnant pretty quickly so she should be okay now.

Later when Lisa examined a large cat she could feel a spike in the back of the other leg – she removed what turned out to be a spike from a palm tree!

When we arrive at the clinic in the morning the first thing we do is check the spayed females which have been kept in overnight. I always approach this with a bit of trepidation, afraid that something might have gone wrong. So far the response has always been active tail wagging and dogs acting as if they feel that they are in a five star hotel. These are truly amazing dogs.

We did a few consultations and managed to neuter 10 animals. Fresh start tomorrow.

Forgot to mention – had to remove a tick from Lisa this morning. Apparently they never bite humans! So this raises the question: Is Lisa .. superhuman? Or just a little weird?


Day 4 in Dahab

Our working day started with consultations. A bit varied, from ruptured cruciate,  opinions on old fractures, skin problems to cat flu. Karin  managed to borrow a microscope so we even managed to look at some skin scrapes and ear mites.
We operated as well and managed to neuter another 10 animals.
The dog with the old fracture is an amazing example of how robust these animals are. She had had multiple fractures in one front leg and Anna, who is a physiotherapist (and a stalwart of AWD), had the leg bandaged and stabilised and then used her skills to help in rehabilitation. Freundin, the dog, is now back to normal apart from a spikey protrusion of bone which Anna was concerned about. This turned out to be quite harmless and I don’t think that it will ever cause a problem. An excellent result. Anna has taken on one of Freundin’s pups, but the mother does not wish to become an indoor dog and goes off with the Bedouins in the morning to herd goats and is back later to go out for a walk with whoever is available.
Both dogs have been neutered and are in fantastic condition.
Anna is also with us every day and can do wonders on a tired back!
Cycling back home in the late afternoon was glorious.  A lovely temperature and beautiful calm pale  blue sea. Bliss. Glass of wine on the beach – aches and tiredness forgotten.
For another perspective on the work being done by AWD, and lots more photos, check out their facebook by clicking here.