Dec 2, 2019

#38/Future Vets

Watching surgery
Watching surgery

As an addition to our 2019 spay day, group of eight 12-year olds who were keen scientists and had an interest in pursuing medicine were given a guided tour during the spay day. I took them around to each of the stations where we observed with the opportunity to ask many questions.

The first room we went to was where animals only coming for health checks and vaccinations were examined. We saw the animals be weighed, vaccinated and have their eyes, ears and gums checked. We all stood attentively to watch the vets at work, three dogs at once receiving treatment. On our way to the next room we talked through why it was a good idea to neuter animals. The kids had some great answers ‘so they become less aggressive’, ‘so they don’t go and annoy your neighbour’s dog’.

We then headed to the pre-operation room where vets would check if a dog was healthy enough to undergo the operation before anaesthetising and shaving it if it passed their assessment. The kids seemed rather surprised as we watched one big dog struggle on the surgical table, fighting the vets before the anaesthetic finally kicked in and he became unconscious, his tongue lolling out of his mouth. The shaving of the dog’s genitals also caused a good deal of interest and laughter from the kids, I think they were worried the dog would wake up and not be pleased at what was happening to him!

Next, we went to what was normally a classroom for Mkuzweni Primary but today had been transformed into an operating theatre. Five vets were busy with different operations. The kids went in groups of 2 or three to shadow a vet and watch the animals undergo surgery.

Regrouping at the end, the kids were totally different from the restless bunch I picked up that afternoon. Their faces changed completely when they recounted what they thought of the spay day and of the surgery in particular - opinions ranged from how scary they thought it was, to fears that the dog wouldn’t wake up and how amazing it was to witness this happen.

Lucky - It was so interesting. It was also scary in surgery but you must not be scared.

Sebulelo - I felt pain for one dog and I also realized it was a difficult procedure.

Surprise - The whole experience was scary, especially the cutting and shaving. I thought the dogs were not going to wake up afterwards but they did.

Nosisa - Very scary first time then it became WOW in surgery. I became very encouraged to keep observing in surgery.

Nobuhle - It was scary to see it. I learnt how to do things when I am also a doctor. It encouraged my desire to be a doctor.

Nonsindiso - It felt phenomenal because I think it is my destiny to be a doctor.

Simangele - I feel like I’m dreaming when I see all the dogs in surgery. I was surprised because it is the first time I have seen such a thing. I did not even know it was possible to do such surgery. I will for sure have a dog spayed.

Banele - I left pain for the dog and I was scared for it. I did not think the dog would wake up. It made me more interested to be a doctor.

It was amazing to see the impact of a totally new experience on the kids and was incredibly rewarding to see how it galvanised their dreams of the future. As our strategy for the spay day is to use animal care to promote empathy and responsibility in children, it was also a nice indication that our message is getting through!

Thank you for your support as this is critical to making this annual event happen - the date of June 20, 2020 has already been set!

Vets explaining
Vets explaining
Many questions
Many questions
Talking through fears
Talking through fears
Still breathing
Still breathing

Links:

Aug 22, 2019

#37/Early Morning Start

Check in
Check in

Even before the sun was fully up, the queues of people waiting to benefit from the spay day services spilled out onto the road from the gates of Mkhuzweni Primary School. People from the area were keen not to miss out on this rare opportunity to have their dogs attended to by medical professionals. People had registered in advance over 6 days the week previous.

So on the morning of we were able to divide people into two queues - one for those who brought their dog to be neutered and the other for those who had brought their dog for a check-up and vaccinations.

Our goal on the day is to keep people and their animals moving steadily through the clinical, surgery, recovery and discharge stations. Testament to the brilliant vets and amazing team of people we had working that day is that 51 dogs were operated on and another 112 received clinical treatment, all under make shift conditions.

My duties of the day began at the gate where it was my job to ensure people were in the correct line, and explain the front desk process. People and animals need to be checked in against their registration information, and each dog or cat tagged accordingly.

Dogs of the owners I was talking to were animals the likes of which I had never seen. The minority looked in good condition but at their worst these dogs looked like they had been kept in concentration camps. Their fur seemed to barely hold their bones together and was covered in sores and bitten away by fleas. They had been brought there in all manner of makeshift leads; ropes, string, chains, bits of material that even looked like pulleys you find in factories.

From the leaping and attempts to scurry away from their owners, it was clear that for many of these dogs being on a lead was a new experience. Already by 8 a.m. I knew this was going to be a day that I will never forget.

Arriving before 7 a.m.
Arriving before 7 a.m.
Catch me if you can
Catch me if you can
Puppy with no energy
Puppy with no energy

Links:

Jun 7, 2019

#36/Rhino at Mkhuzweni Preschool

Lining up to pet Rhino
Lining up to pet Rhino

Rhino is a Jack Russell dog that belongs to Kathy, Vusumnotfo’s director. She is a well over 10 years old hence the jacket to stay warm in the winter weather.

On May 29, I and another staff member took Rhino to Mkhuzweni Preschool. Our objective was to show the children the careful way to handle a dog. Because of her short size, the children were so excited to see Rhino. The average dog in rural Swaziland tends to be tall and slim, so a very short Jack Russell was completely different. Plus Rhino’s jacket made them laugh as this is not a sight they had seen before.

Thulisile and Sibongiseni, Mkhuzweni preschool teachers, attend in-service training with Vusumnotfo (activity 1.2) so they are familiar with and supportive of the animal care message.

Two teachers handling 71 children is no joke yet they are amazing at how they go about it. They separated the children into groups of 5 so that all children could have a chance to pet Rhino. Some were happy to do so and others needed to be encouraged and guided by the teachers.

Children being children, they soon started sharing stories about their dogs at home; some happy stories, some not so happy stories, and one who has a dog named Obama.

This community spay clinic is related to Vusumnotfo's programme objective  "to increase participants' knowledge of early childhood development and learning, including factors that influence this". 

A negative factor is the lack of animal care that contributes to normalizing high rates of domestic violence children regularly witness and experience within their home environment. 

A positive factor is the healthy animals resulting from our annual spay clinic, which in turn results in the positive companionship that naturally arises between a healthy dog or cat and their home environment. 

With much appreciation for your continued support in helping make this happen.

A guiding hand
A guiding hand
This is nice
This is nice
A dog so short
A dog so short

Links:

 
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