Friday, April 17, 2009

Piggy's Story

here is the story of Piggy, a dog rescued from the streets of the Dominican Republic and nursed back to health by volunteers with Animal Balance, brought back to the U.S. by another great group called SPECIEES and now living happily in the Big Apple.

A few of us volunteers went to the Dominican Republic in February forthe Animal Balance veterinarian campaign. There, we performed surgeryon 389 dogs and cats in two weeks, but one particular pup grabbedeveryone's attention for a few days. At a little town called LaEntrada, we came across this poor dog who got hit by a bus, about amonth before Animal Balance arrived. He never got treated for hiswounds, so he simply had exposed bones and flesh the entire timebefore he came to us. Because of his wounds, he would've beentargeted and attacked by all the other packs of street dogs (which areeverywhere in the DR), and he was skin and bones, covered in maggotsand giant parasites.

He was six months old, but he wouldn't act like a puppy at all. He'djust sit there, shell shocked, regardless what was happening to him oraround him. That may have been for the best, because he had a long,harsh leg amputation operation in third world conditions:

The surgery was done in the main area of a youth center, next to openslat windows, and part of my job was to keep a rickety old, brokendown generator working so there would be surgery lights.

After the surgery, he woke up and howled, as he was having a rougherday than usual. But he was a lot better off once the leg wasamputated:

My friend Andrea removed about 40-something roach-sized ticks andother large parasites from the shabby excuse for fur he had at thetime, and she and other volunteers removed about 30-something parasiteeggs from each of his ears.

He was in no shape to be released, so fellow volunteer and localresident Connie Durkee fostered him. After a day or two he wasalready in much better shape:

He was still skin and bones, but he would attack his food, so he wason his way to recovery.
However, three legged dogs live very short lives in the DR, because ofall the packs of street dogs. If our little three legged friend wasgoing to have a chance at life, he had to leave the country.

So, that's when SPECIEES came in. SPECIEES facilitated getting himout of the country and into my apartment as my new roommate. Theprocess was incredibly smooth; Animal Balance gave him his treatmentsand prepped him for customs, and took him to a flight to the US. Whenhis flight arrived to the US, he had to spend less than an hour atcustoms before he was released to my permanent care.

Well, he's been in NYC for just over two weeks, and you wouldn'trecognize this is the same dog. Here he is now, with a new shinycoat, lounging among some of his toys:
He seems to remember Andrea, who removed so many of his parasites:
Living a very different life than the one he had in the DR, he canoften be seen curled up with his plush toys:
He's also gotten to imitating my cats:

Last week, I took him to Central Park to meet other dogs for the firsttime, and when I took him off the leash, he just cowered against mylegs and growled and whined at all the other dogs that came near,probably because of his harsh experience in the DR. I was prettyafraid that he just wouldn't be socialized.

Of course, that was a pretty silly thought. After just a few days,less than a week, with continued exposure to other friendly NYC dogs,he's now chasing after dogs twice his size to wrestle and play. Heparticularly favors giant black labs.

And he's becoming very popular. On this morning's walk throughCentral Park, all sorts of people I didn't know came up yelling "It'sPiggy!" because his story has been spreading by word of mouth allthrough the Park and several neighborhoods of Manhattan.

He's currently snoozing at my feet, and I'm about to take him foranother walk. He knows almost every dog in the Upper East Side ofManhattan by now.

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