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

The love of dogs

Would you give £5 to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?’
This was an advert placed by a medical research charity. But there were 2 versions.
One of the adverts showed Harrison to be a human, the other showed him to be dog.
Guess which advert got the better response?
Yes.

It made me think of this National Lampoon cover from 1973:
What a fabulous dog! But, even though this is obviously a joke, the photo is really powerful and it does elicit an emotional response.

The above mentioned research, done by Harrison’s Fund, reveals that people are more distressed about reports of pain inflicted on dogs than they are about the same reports about adult human beings. There is however an equal response for puppies, adult dogs and human babies.

I have often suspected that in many cases people care more about their dogs than about their fellow human beings, including (quite often) their spouse.
And it’s far from rare to hear someone say that they love their dog more than anyone else, including (quite often) their spouse…

We have invited dogs into our homes, and subsequently into our families. And perhaps, in many cases, many of us feel genuine love for our dogs.
(Some people even claim to love their cats, but that’s based on the mistake that a voluntary submission to the demands our arrogant feline friends constitutes love.)
It raises the question whether or not our love is reciprocated.
Do our dogs love us?
I don’t think so.

Love is very complicated. Dogs, generally, are not.
How complicated is love?
Well, I think we’ve all attended that amazing wedding where the bride and groom, deeply in love, swear eternal love for one another. Then 5 or 10 years down the line they’re in court fighting a bitter battle, and they cannot stand the sight of each other. Love is complicated, and it can change to hate. Sometimes we get cross with our dogs, irritated, but we don’t get to hate them. And they never, ever hate us. Their relationship with us is uncomplicated. Which is why I would hesitate to call it love.

The research I mentioned above reaches 2 conclusions.
One I have alluded to, namely that we see dogs (and cats, and other pets) as part of the family.
The second conclusion is that the empathy we show towards our dogs has to do with their helplessness. Which is why we respond that way to babies too.
I don’t entirely agree with that – after all, as we keep reminding everyone we know, dogs have teeth. Lots of teeth. Not entirely helpless then. But they don’t understand why someone would point a gun to their head. In most cases they don’t know what a gun can do. And they aren’t scared to die, because they don’t know that they’re going to die. It’s a state blessed ignorance. It is innocence.
Which I believe to be the crux of the matter. Like babies, dogs are innocent. And we protect the innocent, it’s a completely natural reaction. And there’s an innocence to dogs when they play, run, go crazy and even when they stubbornly refuse to do what you want them to do. You want to be cross, but then they look at you, wag their tail, and all is forgiven.

I love our dogs, I really do. And our dogs are good, they are pretty faithful (unless someone else offers them a treat), and they are probably devoted to us. It all adds up to an incredible relationship, even if my love is not properly understood, and hence not reciprocated.

Harry

This article uses some information from ‘Dogs take the lead when it comes to winning human empathy’, printed in the Times on 1 November 2017.

Karen & Lisa in Dahab – continued

Today we took a break in the morning and went for a dive.
Well, Lisa dived and I was dragged along the reefs by Marlies, the most amazing dive instructor in the world. She could persuade anyone that they could do it.
The reefs around here are stunning.
A
Before leaving for our dive we had a cup of coffee at a cafe on the beachfront (yes, life is hard) and were amazed by the appearance of a dog that you will all remember from a previous TNR, Leany. Leany is the dog who met us in  the desert post surgery, wearing his buster collar, after someone had let him out of his overnight abode. We were totally amazed that he recognized  us and came running to join us and leaned against Lisa and put his foot up on my leg. Later in the day he joined us again at a different site. Lisa now thinks that he wants to come with us to England but I think that he is a genuine beach bum and Oxfordshire is a bit short on beaches. These dogs are so wonderful  and so devoted and intelligent. Leany is also truly special.
We were also joined at lunch by a cat with an ear that had been tipped – one of our previous patients.  What a forgiving gang!
A
A lovely French lady brought a cat in for neutering and told us that Tripod, the 3 legged cat who initially inspired us to do work out here, is alive and well and fat and lives in her house. Lovely to see and hear that a lot of our patients are surviving and even thriving.
A
We spent the afternoon neutering. We were joined by Dr. Amira with one of her patients. Amira wanted to learn how to remove an undescended testicle (which her patient had). She is always trying to improve her skills and opportunities for continuing professional development are hard to find out here.
A
So the total so far is 48 neutered animals. Up early in the morning to start again.

Karen

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News from Karen & Lisa in Dahab – days 1 and 2

We arrived in Dahab on late on Monday night. We finally managed to get out of Sharm El Sheikh airport, but later than anyone else. Our luggage came under some serious scrutiny, but Lisa managed to charm us out of there. Her impressions of dog- and cat sounds, as well as her miming of surgery techniques – all this in an effort to explain what we were there for – really should have been recorded for a bigger audience. Unfortunately it just wasn’t the right time for getting out a camera.
I suspect the customs officials finally allowed us through because they just did not know what to do with us!
Tuesday morning we spent unpacking and setting up our surgery in the wet lab of the Marine Centre, kindly provided by Anna and her lovely partner.
AIR CONDITIONING!!!!!!!
Not only that, but we have plenty of space, and bricks were supplied for raising the table.
We have a lovely bunch of volunteers who do an amazing amount of work. They catch or collect all the animals, do the aftercare, feed us, make all the arrangements, help us in the surgery and even remove ticks from the dogs. And keep smiling.
On Tuesday afternoon we managed to neuter 6 animals and today we managed another 18. We also did a few consultations.
It is not all work though.  We stay in a lovely house on the beach, kindly lent to us by Axel. We even have our own coffee machine and 4 amazing dogs. So far I have met 2 cats – I am not sure if we have met all the inhabitants yet.
After work today we cycled back to the house and went snorkeling in the sea just outside the house. The most beautiful reefs in the world. Aren’t we the lucky ones!?
Karen

The sardonic grin

A number of years ago I was called by a client, Yvonne, who informed me that she was worried about her dog, Paddy, because he was ‘smiling’. I knew Yvonne well and knew that she was a very perceptive person. If she was worried, I should worry.
A
What we found was that Paddy had contracted tetanus. The smile was caused by contracture of the muscles in the face as a result of the nerves being affected  by a toxin produced by bacteria. It is called a sardonic smile. The site of the infection was quite difficult to find – a small wound under a nail. As the problem is caused by the toxins rather than the bacteria, simply using antibiotics to kill the bacteria is not the solution.
A
I had only seen tetanus in horses, as they are more susceptible to the toxins. Humans are apparently less sensitive than dogs.
The treatment for dogs was the same as for horses. The animals need to be kept away from stimuli, so in Paddy’s case in a dark,quiet room.They are also given muscle relaxants such as valium to prevent the muscle cramps. The disease can be fatal, particularly if the respiratory muscles are affected.
A
Paddy recovered after a few weeks, with excellent care from Yvonne. I have since had 2 more cases, but neither of these were as severe. 3 cases in over 25 years!
brian grin pic

Artistic impression of the sardonic grin. We must stress that no animal was harmed in the taking of this photograph

Karen

Dahab – some photos

Here are some more photos we took during our work in Dahab in September – not all animal related.

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