The Chilean Dog: A New Beginning
The title of my last post — Chilean Dog Rescue: The Final Chapter — might have been a little, em, premature. That was not the final chapter, but rather the beginning of the story. Allow me to step back and fill you in on some additional details.
The drive back with Matilda (Matty) was uneventful as far as the dogs were concerned. We, the smart humans, however, ran out of gas and had to wait on the side of the highway for a tow truck to bring us enough supply to get us to La Serena. Luckily, the folks from the Chilean transit authority were professional and courteous, and got us back on the road relatively quickly.
We arrived in La Serena at around 4:00 am and within a few hours Catalina was up and ready to get started with Matty’s care. A bath seemed like a sensible place to start since she desperately needed it. I learned from the vet that a bath can be a stressor and suppress a dog’s immune system, so it’s understandable why Bony delayed it while Matty’s leg healed. By now, though, the leg looked almost completely healed, so the bath reprieve was over. After the bath we took Matty to the veterinarian to get her vaccinations started. The vet gave Matty the rabies vaccine, but suggested we wait at least five days before giving her the remaining vaccines, lest we suppress her immune system so much that it cause more harm than good.
At home Catalina began training Matty on some of the basics to address a couple of areas. First, behavior — we wanted Matty to become accustomed to staying in her crate during transport, since she’d be traveling a long distance by plane and because of her size she’d likely need to be in the cargo bay of the aircraft. Second, physical therapy — we wanted to get her to use her injured leg more in order to rebuild the atrophied muscle. I don’t know much about dog training, but can tell when a dog happily works at learning what’s being asked of them. That’s what Catalina is able to accomplish when she works with Matty. I’m confident that Matty will be ready when travel day comes.
Over the week Matty began to come out of her shell and show her personality. She has had a very rough month — from getting run over by a car, to being picked up and handed over to different people three times, to ending up with a younger sister who’s a bully and picks on her constantly. While the changes have been for the best, I can’t expect Matty to have the capacity to understand that or to understand that these drastic changes will come to an end and she’ll one day soon be in her furever home. To get Matty from Santiago, Chile to Portland, Oregon will take two flights with a total fly time of 18 hours. As I got to know her a little better, I began to worry about having her travel in the cargo bay of the plane for all that time. Was there a way to avoid this undue stress?
We explored every possibility and just when we were about to give up a solution came. Catalina has a certification that allows her to travel with her dog for emotional support. We didn’t think it’d be possible to renew the certification, but as our luck would have it, the certification doesn’t expire until July of 2017 — well after Matty’s travel. We contacted the airline to make sure the certification was still valid and after their confirmation we booked Catalina’s flight. Matty leaves from Santiago on an American flight on March 30th and should be home, in Portland, by March 31st. We solved the travel problem. Now if only it was that easy to deal with the bully sister.
Suri and I extended our stay in La Serena to work on Matty's veterinary and travel logistics. We're forever indebted to Catalina for her hospitality and assistance in rescuing and preparing Matty for travel. Suri and I needed to decide whether to travel back to Argentina to meet up with Russ or travel south to Santiago. Suri had been keeping up on the news (as she does every morning) and learned recently that heavy rains in the mountains had caused flash floods and landslides with major repercussions in Santiago. That influenced our thinking, so we began preparations for a crossing into Argentina from northern Chile, rather than traveling south to Santiago. We thought it'd be fun to meet up with Russ in Buenos Aires. Just hours before departure we learned that the border crossing we planned to take included about 140 km of dirt road on very steep and mountainous terrain. Not ideal for travel during and after heavy rains. This left us with one option, head south to Santiago and make arrangements to go home from there. After doing some laundry, which Suri delegated to me… what with my thumbs and all, we were headed south.
On our way to Santiago Suri and I met Mikel, a Spaniard who's riding his motorcycle through South America. Mikel is a forest engineer and is leveraging this adventure to also conduct research in his field. He shared some of his research and findings and I was very impressed with the material and his ability to make it accessible to the layman. Another interesting fact about Mikel is that he had already done this adventure several years earlier. On a bicycle! We're sharing an apartment with Mikel in Santiago and enjoy very much our evening conversations. He has so many amazing stories that are truly worth sharing with people. Unfortunately he doesn't care much for blogging.
Suri and I have been concentrating on making arrangements to go home and have divvied up the tasks as follows: I'm responsible for the motorcycle shipping and air travel arrangements, and she owns the pet permits paperwork. She's easily distracted and bores quickly, so she decided to delegate the minutia of the paperwork to me. The motorcycle will be shipped on March 13th and Suri and I fly on March 14th.
The motorcycle adventure is ending differently than planned. For starters, it is ending much earlier than we anticipated, which is ironic because the entire time we kept thinking that 12 months just wouldn't be enough. Second, Russ and I are returning separately. Throughout the journey I looked forward to triumphantly entering the United States together. Now, I have no white person vouching for me at the border, so who knows how that'll work out.
I have many thoughts and emotions about the conclusion of our adventure swirling around in my head, but first I need to digest it all before I share them in a future post.