The Little Puppy on the Side of the Road

Life in Dominican Republic is not always easy.
I know, you’re asking, “But how could this be? You live on an island in the Caribbean with the sun shining on your back and the wind blowing on your face all year long. Your weekends are full of friends, beach trips, ice-cold beer – literally. Weekly massages are scheduled for the cost of one hour-long massage back home. Fun activities line your week like gumdrops on a Candy Land board. Yes living here has many upsides, so many sometimes that I often can’t believe it is my life. But life in Dominican Republic is not always easy.
On Friday, I left Friend Mama’s house from a quick little impromptu play date (The play date was both for the kids an the moms.). Since the babes was up for a while I knew she would drop the moment the engine in our car started and I was right. With traffic it might take 3 minutes to drive from Friend Mama’s house to ours. Babes was asleep in half of that. Since I had to pick up Husband in a half hour, I decided that I would drive around with her to guarantee a good half hour of naptime.
I chose to drive around the Fiesta Americana, a hotel/pool/gym that many of our CMS counterparts have memberships to. Although we did not join Fiesta, I know the area well. It is nearby and unlike most rounds in Santo Domingo it is lunatic driving free. As I was driving down the last street before leaving to head out for Mike I saw, the worst thing that Icould have possible seen. For those of you who know me, I’ll give you just a quick moment to guess what that was. . .
While you are taking a moment I will take this opportunity to remind you that this is the worst thing I could see. Please realize that as people we are all different. Some of you might find the kids asking for money on the street to be the worst thing you have ever seen. Some of you might think the abundance of pollution and garbage might be the worst thing ever. But for me, the homeless stray dogs are my breaking point. I’ve seen many, Mike remarked the other day that he was surprised with how good I’ve been about only having taken a small kitten and Cabarete puppy off the street each for a day, knowing I couldn’t keep them but wanting to help anyway.
Although I see a stray dog almost daily, I wasn’t prepared for seeing a small, itty bitty (and I mean itty bitty) puppy sleeping in the road.  It was almost in the middle of the street and I prayed as I drove past it that it wasn’t a puppy because I knew my heart wouldn’t allow me to drive past. But it was. And although I tried to keep driving – I turned the corner in fact – my mind and heart, which normally don’t work on the same team, ganged up on me. My mind creating images of this puppy getting run over by a car was too much for my aching heart to take and so I popped K turn and went back.
I approached slowly with a dog blanket that I keep in the car because we have two dogs of our own. I threw the blanket over this little sleepy, weak puppy and put him in the back of our car. I called Husband immediately and asked him if he was done with work because “I really need your help.” “What did she get herself into this time?” I’m sure he thought.
When I updated him, he made the call to our vet and friend, Jen Reinecker, owner of Best Friends Vet Clinic in Santo Domingo. An amazing vet and even more amazing woman, I knew she would help me while telling me something I already know – that this is a way of life here and that I can’t save them all.
Although she was very careful in asking if I held any responsibility to the dog and I carefully said I did not, I added that she could let me know if there was anything I could do, ethically or financially.
When I got the phone call from her today, things did not sound good. She had given the dog a flea/tick bath, which was the very least of its problems. The poor baby was being treated for amoebas and parasites but it didn’t seem like he was getting better. In order to know anything further, a diagnostic test and possibly blood work would have to be done. I said I would speak to Husband but before hanging up I already knew what my answer would have to be. The question that I was now asking myself was this:
At what point, Jen, are you willing to take this?
A test or blood work is one thing. But what if this dog needed serious help? What then? If you get too far invested, isn’t it going to be harder to back out? I know that all of my good intentions might not save this puppy but shouldn’t I at least try? I was having an ethical ping pong match in my mind but as always my heart won.
Let’s just do the test and see what happens.
When she called me this evening, the news got worse. He had the virus we were hoping he didn’t have. He would have to be given IV fluids, vitamins, and be monitored. He might not make it through the night, he was depressed and we might think about euth… I hate that word.
How much do you think it would cost? How long might this take? How long would it be before we could see if it was working? Is he really uncomfortable? Is he so sad? I have done the Animal Avenger thing before, I am not new to this, but this is the first time that a life decision had to be made. She said she would talk to another friend vet and call me first thing in the morning to give me a second opinion.
I had to be optimistic. The universe or God or whoever the hight power is wouldn’t have put this dog in front of me on May 18, the day after both of my dogs had been rescued (Jersey on May 17 of 2009 and Olive May 17 of 2010) if the puppy wasn’t going to make it, right? When she called again, I didn’t want to pick up. But again, I knew what the answer would be.
“We have to try. We have to.”
I know I can’t save all of the strays here. I know that in the years to come there are going to be many dogs that I wish I could save and know that I can’t. But that is not today. And that is not this dog. This little puppy on the side of the road, maybe only 8 weeks old deserves something more than the ugliness and hunger and sickness that its known for its whole life, its whole 8 weeks of life. There has to be more than that for him.
So tonight there is no room for pessimism. Throw up the Vacancy sign for optimism and rent it a room. For love. For prayer. For hope. I need it. Puppy needs it.
I wish I could tell you that this story has a happy ending but the truth is I don’t know if it does. But I know that asking a bunch of people to help me believe in this tonight can’t help.

For more on Best Friends Vet Clinic, please follow them on Facebook by clicking here.

Their website is still under construction but visit it by clicking here.

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