Welcome!

February 12th, 2013

Dr. Michael P. McTigue, Dr. Brian C. Hurley and the rest of the Gardner Animal Care Center team are pleased to welcome you to their hospital blog. This fun and fact-filled blog is updated regularly and includes up-to-date information about your pet’s health care. Also included in the blog are fun, pet-related news stories that we want to share with you and photos and information about our hospital and staff members.

We invite you to check our blog often.

Thank you for visiting.

– The veterinary team at Gardner Animal Care Center

Pawsitive Pet Perspectives of a Practice Manager: “The Eyes? Have it!”

December 18th, 2014

It began as a day like any other, but when you work in veterinary medicine, “ordinary” is not the description of a typical day and this day was no exception.

We received a frantic phone call from a woman stating her dog’s eye had fallen out. Now at first, of course, this sounds odd, and even for “the unusual” which is often the norm in our occupation, this was a little extreme. The Client Service Representative asked the appropriate questions and the unusual ones for the circumstances, to ascertain if this eye was truly detached from the body, hanging precariously, intact but maybe swollen around the socket, or  intact and scratched. As frantic as the woman was it was clear that it was not inside the socket.

The woman explained that she doesn’t drive and that the dog officer came to her home and picked up the dog. The woman sent the dog officer with the dog to our hospital. She lived in a surrounding town, a few towns away from us, but a friend had used our facility in the past and recommended our team. She explained that she could not travel with the dog because the dog officer was only allowed to transport pets, not humans.

About 20 minutes later, the dog officer arrived with a very adorable and surprisingly calm little Boston Terrier dog whose one eye was open and the other closed. Upon closer inspection a few droplets of blood seeped out along the eye lashes of the closed lid, and the eyeball was most definitely not inside. To this little guy, it appeared to be a typical day. Sure he lost his eye, but he took a ride in the car, and went to visit a bunch of people that doted over him and gave him lots of attention.  At first the front office team thought he must be in shock. However, he truly was just very calm about the whole situation and all vitals upon examination were normal.

When Dr. Mike entered the exam room, the dog officer presented him with a jar containing the eye with the optic nerve attached and a paper towel.  Again, surprisingly, given the situation the dog showed no signs of trauma to brain function, the other eye, or any other physical or mental concerns.

We contacted the owner to explain the situation and that we recommended he receive further specialized attention, but for now he was stable.  We cleaned the area and told her we would put him on antibiotics so she could determine where he would receive specialized treatment. Because remarkably, the eye had completely fallen out with the optic nerve attached and the injury had stopped bleeding on its own. She then explained to us that she had no income and wasn’t sure how she could pay for our services.

Recently a very kind individual donated to our hospital some antibiotics and some pain medications that we had prescribed for their pet whom had passed prior to the pet’s use. When that happens we keep the medication until it expires in what we call our “donated meds bin” for situations like this.  As it turns out, the medications were just what this little guy needed and fit his dosage requirements as well.

Dr. Mike, whom had examined the dog, donated his time, and because of a kind soul who wanted their beloved deceased pet’s medications to go to good use, to our knowledge the little Boston is on his way to recovery.

You may be asking, how did the injury happen? It is our understanding that another dog in the household bit down on the other dogs head in an altercation in just the perfect manner to cause the very freak accident of the eyeball of a normal, healthy dog to be completely (and what one would think with great precision given the cleanliness of the detachment) dislodged and fall fully intact onto the pet parent’s floor.

While a distressing situation for the pet owner, but seemingly uneventful situation to the little dog given his reaction, calm demeanor and completely normal vitals, it produced for Dr. Mike, a beautiful medically preserved specimen of an eyeball for which he holds a special fascination. He walked around with this gem in his pocket, and left it on his desk for viewing for about two days. To us, that is not unusual, but often we forget that eyeballs in jars are not the norm for most of our clients. To Dr. Mike’s chagrin, a photo of the eye does not accompany this blog post for obvious reasons (we try not to post what some would find as gore, blood and guts), but mostly there is no photo in order to protect the “eye of the beholder” who views it. Because once you “see” it, you can’t “un-see” it. Though none of us here would lose our lunch while viewing it, and we can talk about cases like this in great detail while eating lunch without a second thought; we recognize that the general population might find us quite mad. This may be the holiday season, but it is not Halloween. We have counseled him to let it be and to save its viewing for special occasions or upon request. Should you have the curiosity to view it, just ask him. He will be happy to show you and elaborate on the story.

Pawsitively Pondering the Perplexities of Pets (& Humans…)
Gayle M. Craig, CVPM, CVJ, Practice Manager

Day 10 Nicaragua Mission

June 20th, 2014

I am writing from 35,000 feet over the Gulf of Mexico. Technically this is day 11 of the mission trip, but yesterday was so busy that I did not write a blog. If you were paying a subscription for this blog I would feel guilty, and you would be foolish, but since this is just for fun, I will write this final blog and limit your exposure to harmful essay.

Yesterday we started out, as we usually do, with a hearty breakfast that included guya pinto, and I must confess I have grown to enjoy rice and beans for breakfast. I don’t expect to continue this culinary delicacy back home, which will make my wife and coworkers happy, but it has been enjoyable in a simple kind of way. We also had fresh squeezed fruit juice everyday, including mango, star fruit, passion fruit, grapefruit, and mixed juice combinations. They have all been very good. The cooks at the Gaitins cabins are quite good, and very warm and smiling, and we will miss them.

After breakfast we went zip lining, which the students universally chose over the other option of touring lake Nicaragua by boat, which was too slow for them. It was a lot of fun to go zipping down the wires, in any position you want, like superman, or backwards, or upside down, or bouncing. As long as you don’t fall off, they are pretty flexible. No one was injured in this expedition, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone except perhaps by our guides who had to put up with us, but they were very friendly and helpful and seemed to enjoy it also. We then went to tour a volcano at a national park. They had a visitors center, and then a car ride to the top where we hiked up and around the rim. It was belching, or maybe spewing, blowing, or disembubbling, could also be used to describe the white smoke with the slightly sulphuric odor, like it had been eating guya pinto for a few centuries. It was a nice visit, as long as you stayed upwind. After lunch, we went to the market for a couple of hours of shopping, and I was able to pick up some gifts and souvenirs, and we enjoyed a cold Milky Way frappachino, mucho bueno! The market had a very Central American feel, no surprise, with lots of colorful clothes and gifts and hand crafts. The vendors are very happy to see Americanos shopping and gladly except dollars, mucho gracias. Our last dinner included hamburgs and Nicaraguan fries, of which I abstained because of some disagreement between my gastrointestinal organs.

We had a final group devotion and prayer time, and it was very uplifting and encouraging. Our team really bonded, from the very first day, and worked together joyfully and humbly, whether working, playing, eating, or driving, but especially when we were praying. It was unexpected and spontaneous, and everyone contributed to the group. We were of one mind, working together for a single purpose, to bring glory to our Lord, and hope to the people, and health to the animals. It is always amazing how God can work in and thru people, even in such a short time. We came from 9 different states and Canada, with vets, students, vet technicians, and spouses, all working together as “one body, for The Lord”. We treated 470 dogs, 300 cows, 46 horses, 35 cats, 32 pigs, 21 rabbits, and 2 deer. We did 36 spays and 6 neuters. We gave out lots of tracts, and talked as best we could to as many people as we could including playing with lots of children, especially Bill. We were hot and dirty and smelly, sometimes tired, never hungry, busy but not overwhelmed, away from home but not alone, far away in miles but close together in Spirit, had mixed emotions but not anxious or sad, unable to speak the language but able to communicate the heart, and always in the loving arms of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. It really was a special time and I would like to thank everyone on our Christian Veterinary Mission team for their dedication, hard work, and spiritual encouragement. You were a joy to serve with, and I hope we can do it again some day.

And one final thought, if you have not gone on a mission trip, I would encourage you to go. The final words of Jesus were “go, and make disciples of all the nations…”. And remember, the most important mission you have is not overseas, but right where you are, to your family and neighbors and coworkers and friends. They need you to bring hope and love and blessings from our God. It is a wonderful journey that you are on, and you have many divine appointments to keep, and when it is finished, and you are saved, you will be forever with God in a new and Glorious home forever. That is a trip you do not want to miss!

Many blessings and mucho gracias
Dr Mike

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Day 9 Nicaragua Mission

June 19th, 2014

Today was the first day we did not go anywhere in the Baptisa 15 person van. It was not designed for 15 people, but with plastic chairs you can be creative and squeeze more people in. It is not so bad as Mongolia, where sitting on laps and body contortions are often required for travel in an old, hard uncomfortable Russian van, but it is still tight. It seemed surprising when we came to a police checkpoint coming back from one of our trips that Oscar told me to put on my seatbelt, as there were not any seat belts for many of the other passengers, especially the one right between Oscar and I in the wiggly, moving, sliding, folding, plastic chair that needed protection most of all. But we got thru the checkpoint fine, they were just looking for drugs, and I am glad they did not check our bags because we had many different kinds for the animals, and if you could see the looks on the faces of the pets when they are waking up after their first drug usage, they would probably wish the police had seized all the drugs. In Nicaragua, you don’t notice many police, and it is a pretty safe country, unless you are a pet who lives in a village that a Christian Veterinary Missions team will be visiting, and you happen to be an unspayed female dog or a midnight crooning rooster.

Today we stayed here and people bought their animals to us. We probably treated about 100 animals, mostly dogs, but some cats, rabbits, and horses also. No deer though, I was looking for them, and was ready to jump into action to protect the people from these potentially dangerous beasts. But I will continue to be diligent and if the need arises you can relax and rest assured that you are in good hands. And if you see any of those dangerous fish, like tuna or stripers or lobsters, you should first bring them to me for a thorough physical exam, that I will perform free of charge, just in case they are carrying a dangerous disease that you did not even know about, and I can take care of the disposal of the disease ridden body, which usually requires boiling or grilling, again at no charge to you. I am just that kind of guy I guess.

Another thing that is annoying down here is the internet. It is not as reliable or fast as it should be, and there should be some kind of law against that. But what was really grating my craw today was that everyone else was getting on and I could not. They would say with a smirk in their voice “oh you still can’t get on, that is to bad, I got on right away again, it must just be the clouds or something”. Now Nancy will be worried and think that I got into some kind of major traffic accident because we don’t wear any seat belts, or veterinary drug seizure undercover operation initiated by some ill informed deer owning vigilante, because I did not message her yesterday. But don’t worry honey, I am ok, and still bright, alert, and responsive, or BAR, as we put on our physical exam record of any pet who appears healthy and normal. It is just the illegal lack of access to fast and reliable internet that has kept me from contacting you. Hopefully she will get this blog before she sends Lexi and Sam on a rescue mission, because the only thing they can reliably search for and find is porcupine or turkey poop.

Tomorrow is our last day here, and we have no work scheduled, so we will be doing some fun things that I will be sure to tell you about. And if I ever get on the internet again, maybe you will actually be able to read about it.

Until then, blessings from Catarina
Dr Mike

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Day 8 Nicaraguan Mission

June 18th, 2014

One of the first things you notice in Nicaragua is the light, as in sunlight, as in there is less of it. Because we are nearer to the equator there is almost equal day and night, so sunrise is close to 6 am, and sunset 6 pm. That is almost 4 hours less than at home this time of year. So we go to bed earlier because it feels later, sort of like New England in the winter, except 70 degrees warmer. Plus we are tired from long days of work, but in reality it is less than a normal day at the Gardner Animal Care Center, but don’t tell anyone because then they will not feel sorry for me and will count this as vacation and not continuing education, which I have already explained.

We went into a small village called Los Madera today, and it was a very busy day. We treated 120 dogs, 9 cats, 5 rabbits, 4 pigs, and 2 deer. Yes that is right, 2 deer. And I helped…really. They were 2 small fawns the lady bought to be dewormed because she was going to raise them for their milk. Now that is a new one on me, as most deer are used for their meat, but we dewormed them and let them go. That was the closest I have been to a deer in years. I know Eric would not have let them go, but they were too small even for him. Maybe next year if I come back and the lady brings them back for more deworming, I will do a physical exam and pronounce them unfit to be kept because of a serious zoonotic disease, and they must relinquish them to me for further testing, including a necropsy. I will take care of the diagnostic tests at no charge to the owner, because I am such a kind person. And afterward, when I find everything is normal, I might as well not waste anything, being a frugal Yankee. I might even feel a little guilty, but it is for science after all.

We had lots of kids crowd around us, especially interested in the surgeries, and enjoying watching the dogs wake up, all groggy and drunk looking, with their tongues hanging out and a blank stare on their faces, like me trying to speak Spanish. And when we castrate a pig, well that’s the best of all because they squeal so loud it is like a dinner bell siren for all the dogs to come looking for a little appetizer. And there were a lot of roosters running around, but they were too chicken to come close. We did have chicken for lunch, and that made me feel better thank you.

For dinner we had a traditional Nicaraguan meal with yuca, cole slaw like salad, spicy onions, and pork rinds. Now I have not had that before, and I must confess this was the first meat thing I did not like. But this pork was actually pig skin deep fried and very crispy, and hard enough to almost hurt your teeth. I do not like it Sam I am, not in a hut, not in a car, not in a box, just let me be. Now I know why they make footballs out of pig skins, because they are not fit for eating.

After dinner we had a very good prayer and devotions and singing time. Now I am not a very good singer, but I was sitting between 2 ladies, Bouno and Hannah, who were very good, so it made me sound better. We have a very close group and I really like spending time with them. I will miss them when we leave.

Tomorrow we have our last day of work, and we will be staying here at Oscar and Tamy’s, and all the people will come to us. It should be very busy, so I must go and rest so I can continue to work so hard on this continuing education mission survival trip that does not count as vacation.

Blessings from Los Maderas
Dr Mike

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Day 7 Nicaragua Mission

June 17th, 2014

Today started…quietly. That was different. Maybe the dogs are used to our smell and the kids ran out of fireworks and all the roosters were eaten, but whatever the reason the noise didn’t wake me up. I just woke up, at 4:30 am, for no particular reason. It’s that internal alarm clock that just goes off, and since we are 2 hours behind, it went off at 6:30 am eastern standard time. Now when Nancy’s internal alarm goes off, it usually means something is wrong with one of the kids, or I did something foolish again. And the problem is, she is usually right. You can try to BS, change the subject, take the offense, and all those other natural defenses we have, but in the end, she is usually right. You would think I would learn, but no, 34 years later I still fight it, and usually lose. Bad habits die hard. Oh what a tangled….

So we got up, ate breakfast, hit the road at 7:30, and off to the capital city Managua, to do some small animal work in one of the poorer sections of town. It is interesting driving in Nicaragua because it is so different than the US. First the paved roads are better than ours, seriously. The second poorest country in the hemisphere has better paved roads than Ashburnham. By far. No potholes, no frost heaves, no layers of patch on top of patch. Smooth as a baby’s…well I won’t go that far. Second, there are not near as many drivers. Most people walk, bike, or ride a bus, so the roads are uncrowded, even in the city. No traffic jams or long backups. Third, people do not drive fast, they are not speeding, swerving, one finger saluting, honking, or swearing. They are actually easygoing and in no hurry to get there. And when you get behind the slow drivers, which is often, it is easy to pass them because there are not that many cars and the roads are long and straight. I wish it was like that back home, but that is about as likely as snow in Nicaragua or smooth roads in Ashburnham. But mostly what I notice is all the people near or on the roads. You can drive for miles at home and the only thing you see is other cars. Here you cannot drive 100 yards without seeing people or animals walking the road. And they are usually talking, the people that is, I have not heard any animals talking, but since I don’t know spanish I guess it is possible I’m missing it. We live in big insulated houses, and have large cars with closed windows, and often have ear phones or cell phones stuck to our head, and we usually don’t interact with other people. Here they are always close to other people and talking with them. I think they are better at the people end of it than we are, so I am not sure which country is richer.

We worked inside one of the churches Oscar had planted and it worked out very well. Now you may think it is wrong or foolish to work with dogs inside of a church, because when they get nervous, they get messy. But these churches are very basic, with cement block walls, open areas for windows, plastic chairs, an aluminum roof, no lights, and a dirt floor. So if an animal pees on the floor, just wait a few seconds and voila, it disappears. Brilliant. I spent all this time and money on our floors at work, and have nice shiny tiles that we have to mop 20 times a day, and I should have just put in dirt floors and been better off. And the people are very patient and wait without complaining or saluting. But to be fair, they are not paying either, which tends to make people grumpy, so it is not apples to apples, or mangos to mangos in Nicaragua. Still I wish I could bottle some of their attitudes, just not the ones which want everything for free.

We came home, went swimming, played pool volleyball, ate dinner, got to FaceTime with Nancy, and had an hour and a half of group devotions and prayer. Now that is a good way to end the day. Tomorrow we are off to do it again in some other small town. I hope it will be a blessing to the people we serve. We have a very good team, and I am blessed to be here. Thank you Lord!

Blessings from Managua
Dr Mike

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Day 6 Nicaragua Mission

June 16th, 2014

Today is Sunday, and Sunday morning in Nicaragua is special, so special that they celebrate with fireworks. I can understand why they like them so much, because all guys like to light something and make it explode, it is just so fulfilling to blow things up. It may be genetic, or cultural, or just guys being stupid, but it is still fun. And it is father day so just let us have some fun. Except that Father’s Day is next Sunday in Nicaragua, so I don’t know why they are blowing them off this morning. And they only have the loud noise fireworks, none of the color burst kind, so it is not like having the full affect of an explosive device, it is only partially fulfilling.

They do the children’s church in the morning, and our group split into 3 different teams to go and help at children’s church. Then we had lunch, rice but no beans bummer, and mashed potatoes and beef, very good. Then we visited a potters house and the husband and wife explained what they do and then she made some pottery and showed us how to do it. Then a few people tried their hand at it. The girls did ok, but Bill got a little rough with his bowl and it fell apart. I bet he is better at fireworks.

After that we went to the lookout, which sounds like a shady type of place, but in fact it was a sunny little tourism spot near the top of an old volcano, and down below was a lagoon, and in the distance, lake Nicaragua, which is the largest lake in central and South America, and the only lake in the world with its own freshwater shark. I wish Paul was here and we would do some fishing, and maybe we would actually catch something, but not this time, so the sharks are safe (actually everything is safe when I go fishing).

After that we went to the 5:00 service in Pacaya, which is a small village that Oscar and Tamy planted a church in several years ago. Oscar asked me to preach the sermon, so I did, how can you say no to someone who’s nephew just scored a game winning goal in the World Cup! The sermon started out ok, and then about half way thru, the rainy season started. Last year it started when we were spaying dogs outside. This year it started during my sermon. It rained hard. Oscar had to turn the microphone up. I don’t know if God was trying to tell me something, or if it was just meteorological coincidence, but since it was not thundering or lightning, I just kept on talking. It was hard to tell how it went, because you had to keep starting and stopping for Tamy to interpret, but I guess it went ok because I didn’t hear any snickering, unless Nicaraguan jeers sound like snoring, in which case it did not go so well. But they are very kind and polite here, so no one said anything mean, not that I could tell anyway.

Tomorrow we head into Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, to do some small animal work, so I will let you know how it goes. And maybe I will buy some fireworks, and shoot them off, really early in the morning. Then I will feel better, just like one of the guys!

Blessings from Pacaya
Dr Mike

Day 5 Nicaragua Mission

June 15th, 2014

We had a busy morning in the country today. The large animal team set out to vaccinate and deworm the cows and horses and 1 pig. Some of the cows had ticks, lots of ticks, and we would spray them with a topical solution, except for 1 cow with an especially accurate side winding karate kick who knocked the spray bottle out of my hands into 2 pieces, so that cow got to keep her ticks. The villages are small and simple and the people appreciate the help with their animals, they are very kind. We had cold coca cola at one house, and even though I do not drink much soda, it was wonderful. The pace is not fast, and they are never in a hurry, unlike Massachusetts drivers, who could learn a lot from them. However things may be changing. In the village we visited today, La Conquistador, they bought in electricity last year, and the pastor has already noticed that people spend less time with each other, and more time inside the house watching TV. This is not good for the town, the people, the relationships, and things may start to change much more rapidly soon. I hope they do not lose their culture, as family, friends, neighbors and a simple life style has given them a happiness that we often do not have here in our wealthy country. We could learn a lot from them, and even as we help and teach them things about their animals, they teach us many things about life, and we are better for it.

We tried to get back to the cabins a little early because Oscar has a nephew who plays for the Costa Rican soccer team and they had their first World Cup soccer game which he wanted to watch of course. So we all watched the game on Oscars TV, and wouldn’t you know that even though he plays defense, he scored the game winning goal! Oscar was so happy that we all celebrated like we were Nicaraguan nationals. It was a very big deal around here because he is the first Nicaraguan born soccer player to play in the World Cup, and soccer is very big everywhere else in the world except the USA I think. All the cars would go by and honk their horns and shout and celebrate. It was fun, not as fun as a Boston Bruins hockey game obviously, but it was still really fun. And we were happy for Oscar, and when your host is happy, then you are happy. And guess what? We went out to dinner in Masaya, and ate a big helping of pork and beef and plantains and salad, and they put rice and beans on the table, and nobody ate any, except me, because I was still hungry, and I have grown to appreciate the positive effects of this simple meal. And also I am sleeping alone.

After the game we went swimming and played pool volleyball and I took a shower and it was so nice to be clean and cool. However there was very little water pressure so I had to rinse with just some dripping water. The bucket shower in the countryside was better. Isn’t that typical, we always think the grass is greener on the other side until we get to the other side and find out, well it actually is greener on this new side in this case, so I guess the analogy does not fit again. Maybe I will have to use a new method of analogical communication, so maybe I will speak in parables, but then you will ask me to explain them, and you will not understand, so I will continue in this simpler style of prose, for your benefit of course.

Well for now I am signing off, because we don’t have good internet and I want to get this sent before it goes down, and I know at least 1 person likes to read this and make sure I am ok, and that is my good wife Nancy. My daughters like to read it also, maybe it is to get some idea of what gifts I am bringing home to surprise them, although they never liked surprises and sometimes tried to peak at their gifts beforehand, but Santa would catch them and I do not think they do that anymore. And when my dogs read this they will be happy, because they will be hoping for some kind of treat, and I think I know what to get – jerky, hopefully made out of rooster from the countryside. If I find some I will eat it with them!

Blessings from Catarina
Dr Mike

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Day 3 Nicaragua Mission

June 14th, 2014

I am writing from the inside of an old church, which is where the guys are sleeping tonight. The ladies get the new church, which is bigger and better, because there are more of them, and at least we get a roof over our head this year. I just took a bucket shower, which is something if you are ever in Nicaragua, I would recommend at least once, just for the experience. Basically you go to the well, crank up the wheel until you get a bucket o water, go behind a tin wall, and do a hand scoop shower kind of thing. It may not sound like much, but when you have been outside all day in the dirt and manure, and the temperature is 95, and the water you are drinking from your camel back water bottle is about 95degrees, it feels really good. Now you know I am not one to complain or exaggerate, but 95 is hot, too hot. My ideal temperature is 25, no wind on the chairlift, and fresh snow on the slope. So this hot, dry, 95 degree stuff is no vacation, and I don’t want to hear anyone say when I get back “how was your vacation?” Because this is work and not pleasure, even if I take pleasure in it, it still doesn’t count. And I will tell Dr Brian that this does not count against my vacation, it should be counted as continuing education, for all that I suffer through. He will not think so, and neither will all the good people at the animal hospital, but when I tell them about all the pigs and cows and horses and tigers (ok that one is a little exaggerated but they don’t know there are no tigers in Nicaragua), even they will understand and say “you should take the rest of the week off after having worked so hard on you continuing education mission survival trip” and then I will feel a little better. And I know my wife will understand and make a big lobster dinner, but no guya pinto, or rice and beans, because we have that 2-3 times each day. And my 2 golden retrievers will understand because they agree with anything I say as long as it is followed by food. As I am writing this they have turned off the generator so the only light in this building is the light from my iPad, which does not look bright in the day, but in the dark it is a beacon for all the bugs, and as I am typing, I am squishing all the little bugs on the screen, leaving black skid marks, as you can see. So I will go to bed now, and finish the blog in the morning, as long as I get a good nights sleep and not get woken up by barking dogs, crowing roosters, or roommates who ate too many pintos, no that would not be good and I would wake up cranky, which I know you would not believe. So goodnight for now.

Well let me tell you about last night. It was a little noisy…actually it was a lot noisy, but this year it was not in massive numbers over sustained periods, but lower numbers of persistent yakkers. First the dogs, one in particular, who if I can ever identify, will get a special surgery combination, laryngeal cordectomies/orhciectomy at no charge, and with a smile on my face, because he took special joy barking off and on all night. That was followed of course, by the roosters who started crowing at exactly 2:11 am. Now why they need to do anything at that hour other than sleep is beyond me, and led me to think of some practical ideas I could share with the people to help them educate their special needs animals. I was thinking of some form of discipline, firm and repetitive, but not in a mean way, but a nice way. Like spanking. Maybe if we can catch them, which is difficult enough, we could administer some punishment that would impress upon them the foolishness of their ways. Or maybe I will just eat them. Yes, that would make me feel better, but only the roosters, the dogs get the surgery.

As for our work, yesterday was a good day to get out and vaccinate and deworm the cows, and some horses and pigs. Their were some lame horses that needed attention, so I pretended I knew what I was doing, and gave them some antibiotics, antiinflammatory, and antiparacitides, and shook my head up and down like a professor, and said fini. Sometimes it is good when you don’t know the language, because as the saying goes, if you don’t know what you are talking about, don’t give them evidence that proves it. It was a good day in the field.

It is very dry this year, and the rainy season, which is supposed to start in May, has not started yet. There is no green on the ground, as the animals have cleared it out with constant grazing. But they are in pretty good shape now, considering the conditions, but they are praying for rain soon. Oscar and Tamy have planted 4 new churches this year, and they make their way around to each of them, to talk and encourage and give classes and hold services as often as they can. The people here are very warm and dedicated to the family. The houses are simple and small with few amenities, but full of life. It is not unusual to see pigs and dogs and chickens and cats and kids, the people kind, all running around the house and “yard”, chasing and pecking and snorting at each other, like a typical family. I was talking with a family about their church and, unbeknownst to me a little parakeet came and decided my boots had nutritional value, and was intent on procuring something to eat from them. I would have liked to have given it to her, but I need it for now. When I leave, maybe I will see if Oscar can give one of their boys my boots so the little bird will have something to eat.

It is time for breakfast and work now, so I will put on my happy face, if I can find it, and go. I really do like it here, and maybe today I can do something that will really cheer me up, like an equine castration. Yes that would be nice.

Blessings from Trinidad
Dr Mike

Day 4 Nicaragua Mission

June 14th, 2014

Today was hot, hotter than yesterday. The temperature was probably the same, 90 something degrees and sunny with no chance of snow, but it just felt hotter. Maybe it was being a little worn down from all the midnight chaos, the dog fight over the female in heat being the noisiest, and dehydrated, and all the beans and their after burner affects. But after a hearty breakfast of fruit and guya and pintos, we felt a little better. There was also coffee, fresh Nicaraguan coffee, which unfortunately was made from instant coffee. I wish Juan Valdez, that famous coffee commercial guy, had planted more coffee bean trees around here, kind of like Johnny Appleseed did around our area, and he could have been even more famous and people would have called him Juan Coffeeseed and they would have had fresh ground coffee. But they are very good at grinding corn, and they make fresh warm tortillas for us every day, and yesterday we had a special treat of fresh warm bread with some tropical fruit blend of jelly baked into the middle. It was to die for, but I survived fortunately.

We then split into 2 teams, and I led the large animal team, because I had the most large animal experience, even if it was over 27 years ago and I have forgotten most of it. But I did not forget the BS, of which I am proficient in, and have a degree in actually. So out we went, walking from house to house, each house having a small herd of cows, which provides their milk and cheese, and cash if they need to get money for anything. They do not have banks or ATMs or much cash, so they sell a cow and get the money for whatever needs they have. I guess that is where they get the term cash cow, or dinero baca in Spanish. And I did not make that up, not that you would know. At each small farm, they have the cows in a fenced in area, some big and some small, and they lasso the cows because they have not had obedience lessons and do not come when they are called. In fact they come kicking and snorting and swinging their big horns around. But the men are very good at throwing a rope and holding on as the cows and bulls run away, and looking like a dirt skier trying not to fall, as most of them are only in sandals. After they catch them, they pull them up to a tree, tighten up the rope, and the brave students vaccinate and deworm them. I supervise, which means try not to do anything stupid, which would include just about anything I do or say. So I let the smart people do most of the work and all of the talking. But as my work motto says “hire people smarter than you, that shows you are smarter than them”.

For lunch we had rice, beans and chicken. For dinner we changed it up and had beans, rice and chicken. And it is very good. I wonder what we will have tomorrow?

After dinner, which we eat outside in a circle, we usually debrief and talk about the day, and then discuss how we can best help the people, how to grow in our Christian faith, and how to walk in Christlike obedience. Then we sing songs and pray. It is a very good way to end the day. Tomorrow is our last day in the countryside, and we are going to start very early, by 6:00, so I need my wheaties, spinach, vitamins, and caffeine. I will settle for a good nights sleep and beans and rice in the morning. We shall see.

Until then, buenos noches,
Dr Mike

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Day 2 Nicaragua mission

June 12th, 2014

Nicaragua is an interesting place. You will be driving down the road and you will see all different types of vehicles, from nice new modern ones, to many older dented ones (even the newer ones have dents and scrapes, I think they come off the lot like that so people won’t feel bad when it gets it’s first boo-boo because it comes like that), to older modes of transportation that seem out of place on a paved road, like the ox pulling an old wooden wagon with a flat tire, just trudging along like an ox of course, and leaving nice piles for the cars to smooth out like road play dough. But the most unique one was the man and woman on the motorcycle zipping by, and in between them was a 2 month old baby, no car seat, no airbags, no helmets, just hanging out all peaceful and happy. Sort of like the old days when we were growing up and never had helmets, seat belts, bottled water, cell phones, or any of those things that are required by law because we would die without them, and look how well we turned out…..for the most part.

We had a very busy first day. By the time we arrived at our base camp last night we were pretty tired from that rough ride in seat 1A, so we spent a little time talking with our new teammates, then went to bed. I have cabin 5, alone, probably because of my snoring, which I have never heard by the way, so I think Nancy must be making it up, and slept pretty well, except for the turbulence. In the morning, as the trucks go by near the rotary next to us, instead of slowing down in case they need to yield to oncoming traffic, they just lay on their horns to let anybody know they are coming and not slowing down, which may be good to prevent accidents, but is not very helpful for sleeping. They remind me of Massachusetts drivers, so maybe they took an online driving school course made in Boston, and now they drive just like us, although I have not seen anyone pawk tha caw, so they must have dubbed it over in Spanish.

We went to a small town today named San Marco, which no veterinary team had visited before. Usually not many people show up the first visit, but today was the exception, with lots of people and animals showing up, including 138 dogs, 10 horses, 4 pigs, 10 rabbits, and 5-6 cats, it was hard to keep track of them because the dogs kept chasing them around. We also had 6 Nicaraguan vet students come and join our team of 14, so we all had to be on our toes, (literally we kept stepping on each other) to keep up. But it was a successful day except for the young boy who tried to stop the pig from running away after his deworming shot, and he never even slowed that porcine down until he was on his keister in the bushes. Everyone laughed, but it was in Nicaraguan so I couldn’t understand it.

Tomorrow we are off to the countryside for 3 days, so we will not have wifi or electricity or cell phones, just like the old days, so I hope we will survive despite what the government safety division tells us. We are looking forward to it, except for the possibility of encountering a noisy yakking rooster or pack of midnight crooning canines, and I forgot my flame thrower again, so I will have to figure out something, like stuffing banana leaves in my ear. But you have to be flexible and improvise, just like at work when they tell you the scavenger system isn’t working again for the 5th time, so I am ready and willing. I will miss that warm towel from 1A though.

Adios for now. Blessings
Dr Mike

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