The call came in at 8:30am. “Sarita, a little Chihuahua has been hit!” It was my assistant Antonia on her way to work. “Where are you?” I asked. “By the bus station.” Came the reply. “I’ll be there in 5 minutes!” I grabbed my keys and away I went!
It had rained the night before, and the night before that and that! This was our rainy season. The creeks and streams were full, roads had puddles and it was hot. Antonia was waiting for me by the bus station, I parked and we started to look for the dog. Someone pointed across the very busy intersection toward the bridge. Traffic cleared and away we went.
A steep embankment covered with mud, moss and other unmentionable stuff, held the little dog captive 20 feet below. It turned and looked up at us, hardly able to hold it’s head up. Antonia looked at me as I sized up the situation. Only one way to get to the doggie. Took half a second to decide. I sat down on my butt and slid. My only regret was I wished I hadn’t worn white shorts that day!
Slowly I approached the dog. I was just 3 feet away when it pulled itself up and staggered further down to the bottom of the ditch that was thick with grass, weeds and muddy water. I just kept scooting. By this time a crowd had gathered at the top, watching me, most trying to figure out why anyone would do this… let alone for a sick dog!
This time, when I got close, she was too weak to go any further. I carefully picked her up. Her eyes met mine briefly then she buried her head into my chest. I stood and looked up at the crowd. They were all pointing and telling me how to get out of there. Once to a path and flat land I started to assess my new little friend.
She was very thin, but I had seen worse. She was covered with ticks and fleas. There were huge scabs on her ears and 2 big wounds on her back. When she looked back up at me, I knew how sick she was, and my heart sunk. She had distemper. All the symptoms were there. Having talked to Dr. Aldo Barba only days before, I had learned that here, a dog with distemper is just put to sleep. I met Antonia at the car and she wrapped a towel around the puppy that I figured was approximately 6 months old. We headed straight to Dr. Barba’s office in La Peñita.
He and I looked at each other as the puppy laid on the examining table and could not hold her head up. I said, “Distemper.” He said, “Yes.” I said, “I have the perfect location to totally isolate this puppy. All my dogs and kitty have been vaccinated. WE can SAVE her.” He just stared at me for about 10 seconds. Then he said, “OK!” Out came the IVs and in went the medicine, all the while Antonia and I were plucking off ticks and fleas.
Distemper is highly contagious. The mortality rate here in Mexico is very high, 80-90%. All of this is because the dogs around here “run free on the street.” It is passed by any body fluids. I rescued my first puppy when I was 23 years old, and he got distemper just before his vaccinations. I fought for him and he BLESSED MY LIFE FOR 18 years!
Antonia and I rushed home and sterilized the laundry room, everything. A bed and towels were prepared. Bleach was made ready. Then we returned for our patient.
The first 5 days were critical. She had a very, very high fever. For the first 3 mornings we returned her to Dr. Barba for IV fluid treatments. Each lasted for half an hour, and he added antibiotics too. On the second day I asked him why her ears were scabbed and about the huge places on her back that were raw. Even her paws looked bad. He had a hard time telling me but finally said, “Someone has thrown boiling water on her.” Nothing more was said as we both petted her and let the IV fluids enter. I vowed no one would ever do that to her again.
She was safe, she was dry, she ate well – high protein, fats, fish oils. Small meals 3-4 times a day. Her stools and urine were also good. Those were picked up immediately then BLEACHED AND DISPOSED OF PROPERLY. I gave her cool cloth rubdowns for her fever every 2 hours. She loved the attention, it got her cleaner and I’m sure it felt good. On day 3 the fever broke – temperature NORMAL! This was BIG!
I had also placed a call to Dr. Francisco Aguilar in Puerto Vallarta (he has been my pets’ vet for 9 years!) Now we had a consortium! He said one week of DMSO, one month of antibiotics, 5 days straight of Vitamin C and then every other day, every other day of Calcium, worm her, and 10 days later worm again. Dosages based on her size. A chart was made and followed it. I bleached before going in… and especially when I left… constantly! Even the bottoms of my sandals got bleached. She met me at the door, so excited, on just the second day! She could hardly stand but she was there, and every day after. Improvements each of those days were huge. She gained strength and weight.
What to call her? Antonia and I could not come up with a name. “MOTITAS,” an Argentinian friend of mine said, which means “Little Spots.” Then she said, “Where did she get those big ears? Kinda ugly but very cute!” WE NOW HAD A NAME!
After a month and almost 2 weeks, Motitas was bored. I had to teach her to play. She didn’t know what that rag with a knot in it was. Finally she got the idea and started shaking it, dragging it around and then pulling against me… EXERCISE! RUNNING! CHASING! Stronger and stronger she got. But, she wanted out with the other dogs. Dr. Barba had seen her every week. I consulted with him. He said OK. Now a trip to Puerto Vallarta to Dr. Aguilar to get his OK. Motitas loved the drive down! During the trip she would get tired and just flop in the seat and rest for a few minutes, then go again. The exam was finally over… the ALL CLEAR was given! We got home, I let her rest and then I fed everyone in their places. A little later I opened the door between Motitas and the rest of the house. Since most of the animals were the same size, the sniffing and smelling went fine! She fit right in.
What a dear little doggie! If the above 2 pictures are a blurrrrrrrrr, it’s because she was moving so fast and playing too! It took me 2 days to teach her to play. Look out now! Thank you Dr. Francisco Aquilar and Dr. Aldo Barba!
I will let the pictures tell you, but what you also can see is that the scars are gone. She has some nerve damage caused by the high fever which I am told will not change. She has a “jerk” or a “tick” as they call it in humans. Her jaw does a chewing action and her right front paw jerks. It certainly doesn’t cause her any problems. She is my shadow. She shares that shadow with 6-7 other shadows of mine who are now her best friends. Most of them are rescues too. We had estimated she had maybe 2 days to live when I first found her. Now she has a life.
As I am sitting here on my couch typing this story, MOTITAS is against my right leg, UNO is against my left leg, DOS is on the pillow behind my back, TRES is against Motitas, REYNA the Lab is at my feet, CINCO is in the chair next to me and MOLLY is across the room, ROMEO is sleeping in his crate, ADALITA the kitty is on my bed… she can’t be bothered… but she loves to play with Motitas. MY FAMILY!
“If you save one dog… you won’t save the world… But to that one dog… It’s world is changed forever.”
About the Author: Sarah J. Walker grew up on a farm in the central part of Ohio. Seldom in her life was she without the companionship of a cat or dog, or both. At present, her loyal guardians are a rescued Labrador, rescued Chiwiennie, 4 Chihuahuas and a rescued kitten, 7 in total…. plus all the street fosters in nursing care and recovery waiting to be adopted into forever homes. In the 9 years she has lived in La Peñita, Mexico, Sarah has witnessed firsthand what love and care (often medical), can do to save the life of an abandoned, sick cat or dog. “To me, these animals can give the purest form of innocent love anyone can ever receive. But it does not come to you without your act of kindness.” Sarah enjoys sharing her animal rescue stories and is a dedicated JBAR volunteer.
If you enjoyed reading this story, please consider making a donation to Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue (JBAR) to help pay for food, medication and vet care for the animals they rescue and care for throughout the year.
This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. If you want to join in the fun and share your stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Tosia@JaltembaBayLife.com