A STRAY STORY - Chapter 2 - A New Lease Of Life

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End May 31, 2012

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Flag of Cuba  , Pinar del Rio,
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A New Lease Of Life was required but time was short and so was this life, at least for a poor amaciated, sick and shunned street dog...

This is our story of how the lease was renewed.

Life can be hard, that has been made very clear from our travels around South America.  Both human and animal can struggle to survive when everything is against them.  Cruelty to animals has been a rarer experience than we anticipated as we traveled north and Liz never really had to struggle with her conscience to walk away from any situation.

Until now that is...

The upside to a Communist country is that everyone eats.  Maybe not as much or as varied as they'd like but eat they do.  Difficulties arise as products are not always available and some others are expensive.  Choices have to be made and the choice for a sick dog in Vinales was probably to kick it out onto the street as vet bills can be high.  We can never know what the proceeding years held for this little street dog but I'm sure it was very different to how we found her.

So we had decided to act... involving a plan of bribery, kidnap, medical treatments and relocation...  This plan hatched in the bars and restaurants of Old Habana.  To aid a little creature who could not be long for this world.

Returning to Vinales (in a hire car this time), it took nearly half an hour before the small dog - bald from scabbies, bones showing through for lack of food and a head that hung low from it all - showed up in the plaza.

Swinging the plan into action - Bribery - began.  Roast chicken appropriated from last nights restaurants bought the trust and a little wag of the tail from this beleaguered animal.

Stage 2 - Kidnap - Coxed with promises of more food this little dog was encouraged to follow us.  With a gasp from a local youth she was bundled into the back of the waiting car and we roared (kinda - it was a Kia Picante!) off down the high street with cargo safely onboard. With the air con she quickly fell asleep in the back, happy to be cool and allowed to stay still for 5 minutes.

Veterinary contacts had been made from Havana and medical attention was on standby in Pinar del Rio. We had a 4 pm appointment but had not managed to make any contacts to house her so were very anxious. Worst case we were going to have to put her back on the street that night if nowhere could be found!

So we arrived and took a good while explaining to the vet our situation and what we wanted. He was so patient with us, then he gave her the once over and diagnosed severe anaemia, bronchitis, and infections of the eye and genitals. She was given four injections - vitamin B12, anti-parasitics and antibiotics, then a second vet came in and clipped her nails. Poor little girl had just about reached the end and we had to hold her upright. Soon it was over and I took her outside where she immediately perked up. Meanwhile Liz was inside trying to find her a foster home. After finding the first vet couldn't take her, the second vet Felix came back in armed with his contact details to keep in touch. Liz asked him if he would be interested and bless him, he got straight on the phone to his family to check. Next thing we know we're back in the car complete with Felix, and heading for his home on the other side of town.

We were instantly welcomed by the whole family, Felix, his wife Yoli, three gorgeous children, granddad and two grannies! Felix asked us what our little dog was called, and after a quick discussion we came up with Luna. Felix introduced us to everyone including their incredibly beautiful dachshund John who growled at Luna and was instantly taken out back to "his" area. For Luna it was all too much and she slunk off into the corner to lie down. She started getting a fever and was shaking but boiling hot to touch. Yoli (lucky for Luna was a nurse) came armed with a blanket and wrapped her up, she instantly went to sleep. Meanwhile we were treated like royalty with chocolate ice cream and coffee (and yes I drank coffee)!  After a few hours we left them, very glad that Luna was safe as she wouldn't have survived the streets that night. About 10pm that night we had a call at our casa particular. We were terrified something bad had happened but (so sweet) it was Yoli ringing to say Luna was up and drinking milk, and looking much better.

The next day was a public holiday so we planned to go back the following day. In the meantime we made use of our hire car and visited Capo Jutias, a beautiful beach north of Pinar del Rio. We had a nice time, including a full on storm while we were in the sea (it was drier that way)!

Next morning we left Vinales at 7am to get to Pinar in time to take Felix and Luna to the clinic. Luna was really happy to see us, she even walked on the lead behind us. In the vets again and she was put on her side with her legs restrained, while blood and a skin scrape were taken for testing. She was so good, terrified but she lay completely still, while a puppy on the table next to us (that looked like a little bear) screamed the house down! Afterwards Luna happily walked outside, and as the little bear puppy drove off on a moped (yes really!), we got talking to the Director. He told us about how short they were for things like anaesthetic, antiparastitics and gloves. It's hard enough getting enough drugs for humans, and any supplies for veterinary use don't make it out of Havana.

We then dropped Luna back to the house and went to fetch our bags for the journey back to Havana. When Felix was ready we picked him up and headed back to his place for lunch. Despite all we'd put her through Luna went crazy happy when we walked in. She was indescribably cute! She spend much of her time following us around, and eating anything put in front of her, including ice cream! We stayed for hours, had a lovely lunch and expanded our spanish vocabulary a great deal. Sadly we had to leave before tea time to make sure we got the car back in time. It was very difficult leaving knowing we wouldn't see Luna or the family again for months. Liz has phoned every day (at least until we leave Cuba) and we are in constant contact about the necessaries of getting Luna to the UK. Next stage is getting past the rabies testing, then it's an easy road (well two flights) to get her home. Meanwhile she couldn't be in a better place and we can't believe how lucky we have been.

- JJ.
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smitherson on

Before you say it, James does not refer to me as "titbits"! Thank God ;) Liz x

smitherson on

Forgot to say Luna is about 3 years old and has already had at least one litter of pups, pretty sure we saw her offspring in the homes of the people living near the plaza!

Morgane on

You're going to take her to the UK with you?
You are real Saints!!

Nicole on

Not many people can say they have travelled round the world and brought back a dog as a souvenir! x

smitherson on

I think Liz is the saint... i just let her get away with it!! :) JJx

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