Sunday, July 19, 2009

Week Four: Needle Experience and the Rabies Campaign



I could not have planned my trip together any better than it has turned out. The first week I spent observing, recovering from culture shock, and getting used to Spanish. The second week I started getting more involved at the clinic, saw several interesting injuries, and developed some skills. The third week I really started in on some hands-on experience and mastered several jobs at the clinic. Having just finished my fourth week, I have been introduced to a new kind of work. As I said, the introduction to a new skill could not have had more perfect timing.


This last week was the beginning of a dog vaccinating campaign, pulled together by the hospital in Otavalo and the staff in Gualsaqui. The rest of my time here will be spattered with days when the nurses, doctor and I will travel to various areas even more rural than Gualsaquì to vaccinate dogs and cats for rabies. Because of the limited staff, and the possible danger of being bitten, only María Esther and I are willing to actually inject the dogs with the medication. The others will record information about the families and their animals.


Although I was a little edgy about administering an injection myself for the first time, and I jumped at the first opportunity Marìa Esther gave me. It was a puppy, so I didn´t have to worry about any serious bites. The most important part of vaccinating these dogs is knowing how to tell the owners to hold their dog. It’s like a big hug around the head, so the dog is restricted from both seeing and biting you. The injection itself is nothing like what we people experience. Instead of a gentle prick, its more like a quick punch to the hindquarters, only with a needle instead of a fist. Mostly the dogs only yelp and cower, but occasionally there is a snarl, and once, a snap but at its owner, not me.


Although campaign days are long and exhausting, I really enjoy them. I get to travel even deeper into the heart of the country, and see homes and lifestyles very few outsiders have ever seen. Just as in Gualsaquì, Marìa Esther seems to know everyone, and their good humor and amiability towards us never loses its charm.


More next week,


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