Friday, February 29, 2008

Plans for Tuesday

So it's been a little while, but we've been keeping busy...

A quick update for now, I will be going out to Los Machos this coming Tuesday to pick up the following sweethearts (almost definitely these two):

This is Gage, a beautiful black lab mix that constantly greets us with you can see, he likes tummy rubs.

And our dear lil' Riley, a long-time resident of Los Machos

Though we currently do not have the funding to rescue more dogs, nor do we have the funding to pay off the remaining balance of Dakota and Chalupa's vet fees, I've decided that I'm not letting a shipment at the end of March to St. Hubert's pass us by considering there are 100% adoptable dogs waiting to be rescued, currently scraping by in Ceiba. With the support of our wonderful donors, I am confident that we will eventually break even. Also, I found out from a Ceiba local who has been holding onto Riley that she is pregnant as of scooping her up sooner than later is the best thing for all involved I think.

As for Dakota, Dr. Ramos told me Friday that she is fantastic and eating everything they give her. Chalupa has had her initial treatment for heartworm and is living in the same run as Rocco, who will be shipped to his new home in New Jersey on March 7 (weather pending).

I promise to have my camera fully charged and, most importantly, with me when I pick up Gage and Riley and visit Dakota, Chalupa and Rocco at Dr. Ramos' on my Tuesday Los Machos/vet rounds.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A new goal for the end of March

This morning, I picked up Dakota from the Veterinary Specialty Hospital and took her back to Dr. Ramos' where she will stay at least until her sutures are removed on March 3. I'm sorry to say I forgot my digital camera and had only a spare disposable one in my car. I will eventually get the photos developed, though for now you will just have to imagine how much better Dakota's spirit was. She was elated to see me, as usual, though in general she seemed...just better. She even did a couple in-place dance moves/jumps and held her head higher. It was AWESOME to see her.

As for promised surgery details, there was one minor complication during the procedure. Dakota's liver was basically stuck
through the hernia's orifice within the hernial sac (I admit that I could be explaining this inaccurately, but it's at least an approximation of what I gathered from the surgeon's explanation). Dr. Quinones had to make an incision in order to "retrieve" the liver in tact. Dakota is on special food and medicine to maintain healthy liver function, as well as antibiotics and pain killers. She still has some respiratory issues, some sneezing and mucous, but she's in good hands now and ready to eat. What a relief...right? The total cost of the surgical procedure totaled $1570.86. Including checks promised to me that I have not received yet, we have raised $1300 for Dakota...not bad at all. Dakota is so lucky to have those people who have already donated for her surgery and better life! However, after all is said and done, considering her prescription food, hospitalization/boarding costs, remaining balance for her surgery and subsequent check-ups, I am still hoping to raise at least $700 for her.

Chalupa's heartworm treatments have begun, and she most likely will have to be boarded or fostered for 6 to 8 weeks before we place her in a home. Rocco is great and may be neutered before being shipped to his new home in New Jersey.

So we have 3 happy dogs in good care, and I wish I was satisfied with that (not meaning to sound ungrateful). We have an upcoming shipment of dogs for St. Hubert's on March 28, and I think that on top of funds needed to pay for Dakota and Chalupa's medical expenses that we can also raise enough for two or three more satos to be rescued before the shipment date. The truth is I am nervous right now...on my last visit to Los Machos to rescue Chalupa and Rocco, I did not see the dogs I usually see. I have no answers as to why they weren't there or where else they would be, but it does make me anxious to expedite our rescue efforts at Los Machos. We have found a foster home for the three or so soon-to-be-rescued satos, but, not to sound like a broken record, we need sponsors.

Satos in need of sponsors/adopters - YouTube Video

Another issue that I have not mentioned yet is that I will be leaving Puerto Rico during the month of April for work. In my pre-Puerto Rico life, I worked as a Biologist for an environmental firm in San Diego (B.S. in Biology/Ecology from Loyola University Chicago and an M.S. in Environmental Biology from UCLA). While still technically employed by this firm, they have offered to fly me out to Southern California so that I may aid in a huge field project. Frankly, I miss my work and have had issues finding biology-related work in Puerto Rico. I love biology. So, I accepted the offer and am very much looking forward to getting dirty in the field again, conducting rare plant and animal surveys and seeing my fellow bio-nerds. I will be back, just keeping myself "tuned up" in my expertise. That being said, I have even more reason to want to rescue more dogs from Los Machos before I leave during April.

I will be visiting Los Machos next week to take more pictures and assess the situation out there. Stay tuned for more details...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Still catching up

I apologize for not giving you details on Dakota's surgery as promised, as life continues to rush me around a bit lately. Alas, I must go to work now for the rest of the day. My stories of Dakota and Chalupa will have to wait until this weekend. Both, however, are being hospitalized, treated for their respective ailments and are doing very well. I will be picking up Dakota tomorrow from the surgeon and taking her to Dr. Ramos' for a couple of days before she can come to Colin and my apartment for foster care. Off to work...


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A new and improved Dakota awaits!

That's right...Dakota's surgery was successful, and she may be ready to be picked up as soon as tomorrow. What a little rockstar, eh? It's been a long day, so forgive me for leaving out all the details for now and not portraying my "Dakota made it!" dance (that I've been doing all night) through words. Tomorrow, I promise. For all of you who contributed to this resilient dog, she's alive because of you...she will feel better now because of you. Understated, Dakota is lucky to have you.

Buenas noches,

And one became two

Heartworm, hookworm, whipworm positive, but still extremely adoptable, Chalupa needs a sponsor.

First of all, still no news on Dakota (I know, it's killing me, too). I called Dr. QuiƱones earlier, and she had not yet been able to perform the surgery...the waiting game continues.

As for the "Rocco Rescue Mission" this morning, I went to Los Machos and at first
he was nowhere to be found. Yes, there was a bit of panic in my heart. My friend (Astra, new ADLA volunteer) and I searched the usual sato-concentrated areas around Los Machos for close to an hour before he and his partner in crime, Chalupa, trotted over. And then I had a moment. I couldn't just take Rocco, scared that Chalupa might not do as well livin' the street life without her sidekick. And then they teamed up against me. Rocco and Chalupa simultaneously jumped into the back seat of my car, I called around to find out if there was room to board/foster her, figured out some details and that was that. Rocco and Chalupa went for a ride with us to San Juan.

Rocco and Chalupa are currently safe at Dr. Ramos'. They both received their initial shots. The bad news, however, is that Chalupa did end up having heartworm, as well as hookwork, whipworm and mange. Dr. Ramos is running blood tests and will find out how developed her heartworm case is...should be fine though. Dogs can definitely be treated for heartworm, though it's a bit costly. I am, obviously, looking for a sponsor for Chalupa. Please let me know if you are interested in helping her out. Luckily, Dr. Ramos is an angel and is willing to let me keep a tab.

Rocco will be heading to New Jersey, to his forever home, with a week or two. We'll keep you updated on Chalupa and Dakota's progress.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The waiting game...Dakota in surgery

Well, Colin and I dropped Dakota off for surgery this morning...she was giddy when she first saw us at Dr. Ramos', but wasn't too happy when she went straight to the surgeon's office, whining and pacing a bit...Can you blame her?

An anxious Dakota, "leeching" to my leg at all times

The surgeon said, due to the lack of staff today, she will get to Dakota's surgery today as long as the circumstances allow at her clinic. If not today, tomorrow. Keep your eyes peeled for a new post is soon to come. We are still about $500 short of the full cost of Dakota's total vet bills, so if anyone still feels like pitching in for "Operation: Give Dakota Another Shot," contributions are still needed.

On another note, some great news has come in, though I was too occupied with Dakota's situation to mention it. We have a home for one of our darling Los Machos satos, Rocco. I am going to pick him up from Ceiba tomorrow morning, bring him to Dr. Ramos', get him his necessary shots, etc., board him for a couple of weeks and then off he goes to his new forever home. I promise you more details in the next couple of days...for now, here's Rocco with his remarkable ears.

Rocco will be rescued from Los Machos tomorrow and will soon be going to his new forever home!


Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's a beautiful Sunday...

I just can't get enough of this sweet girl's head.

Amidst all the phone calls and emails regarding Dakota's situation, one specific conversation has saved the day...and Dakota.

That's right...Dakota WILL be going into surgery on Tuesday and, after her recovery, will be sent to St. Hubert's in New Jersey where she will be put up for adoption along with her fellow Los Machos satos, Cisco and Bass. Calling Jackie Fahey of St. Hubert's (let's just refer to her as St. Jackie from here on out) about an hour ago was simply a means to find out what another, though much more experienced, rescuer would think was best for Kota. Taking it that extra step further as she often seems to do, Jackie told me to "send her on up," after recommending to me that the surgery sounded like the right thing to do.

I have, over the last day and half, had a dozen conversations with vet techs (one being a best friend of mine in Chicago...Thanks, Kasia!) and vets I have known in the past about Dakota's prospective surgery and got mixed reviews, making my head spin with uncertainty. Now, with assurance that she will end up in a home that understands her special needs, the answer is crystal clear. Also, speaking to other animal rescuers was key...dogs have come out of far worse, as the stories go, as will Dakota. So, it's on...risky or not. She's about as worth it as they come.

Our work is not finished quite yet though, my friends. We still need half of the money for Dakota's surgery and hospitalization fees, totaling around $1000. For those of you who have helped so generously already, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. However, please continue to pass the story along and help this gorgeous creature get everything she needs.

Thank you for your support through this. Keep your fingers crossed and/or say your prayers that the surgery goes smoothly. Dakota's getting another's a great day! I visited her at the vet's office yesterday, and she nearly knocked over her kennel with her overly exaggerated tail wagging when she saw me. So I think it's safe to say her spirits are up...she's ready for this.

I am ready for a nap!

p.s. Check out our new "Adopt a Los Machos Sato" YouTube Video, which I made last night in honor of Dakota.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dakota's options: a risky surgery or euthanasia

Again, our baby girl Dakota, only 2 or 3 years old and at a point where she could live or die...can you help?

This morning, Dakota and I went over to a surgical specialist to find out how bad her hernia was a scary sight, that's for sure. Her hernia basically covers what you would normally see on the film of her chest: her heart, lungs, etc. This hernia has taken over...not to say it is necessarily too late to help her. Now I further understand why she wheezes, coughs and has diarrhea. Most likely, in the same incident that Dakota broke her ribs and hind leg (both healed, indicating the event occurred some time ago), the trauma caused the hernia to develop. The surgical specialist said she feels confident that the surgery would be successful, but can't be sure until she sees how badly her organs have been effected by the hernia. It is possible that when a hernia has been there long enough, organs may begin to adhere where they are not supposed to, making the surgery very risky and complicated. It is also possible that if the incident that caused the trauma happened when Dakota was a puppy, her organs may be underdeveloped now, diminishing her prolonged health. We don't know exactly how long she's had it...if only we knew, more answers would be available to us.

I'm sort of at a loss. Her surgery, hospitalization and necessary medicine, etc., will cost nearly $2000. I WANT to raise this money...she truly is an exceptional animal. However, I need others to want to save this dog's life. Even more, if anyone is interested in adopting her after she recovers, I would without a doubt do everything medically possible to fix her, with or without the donations. Please email and let us know if you would be willing to donate toward this promising, life-saving surgery for Dakota, or if you would consider adopting her...I would even love comments/opinions about this situation.

I do realize that $2000 could potentially save 6 or 7 other satos, but I see it differently. The money we could raise to help Dakota wouldn't exist in our funding if it weren't for her specific, urgent case of life or death and our wanting her to eventually have life that our personal dogs have. If I can verify over the weekend that Dakota's chances of a great life greatly outweigh her chances of being worse off or falling into a downward-health spiral in the long run
after the surgery, I will effortlessly put money into her medical expenses...and I'm hoping I'm not the only one.

At this point, our final decision as to whether or not the surgery is the best option versus putting her little body to rest is still up for debate...the decision, however, is 100% based on if the surgery has a higher probability of being successful than not and whether or not her quality of life after the surgery will be improved/"normal." As of now, I scheduled an appointment for the next surgery slot available: this coming Tuesday. I have until Monday to cancel. I've been doing my research, calling any vet I know and trust and those referred to me by friends, asking an the same questions over and over and getting a variety of answers that still leave me without a definitive's going to be a long weekend.

Again, if you are willing to donate toward Dakota's surgery or want to adopt her, please email For donors, please indicate what amount you are able to contribute for now. Once I get more information/gather my thoughts about what's the best thing to do for the well being of Dakota, you'll know. Thank you to all of you who have been so thoughtful during these unfortunate last couple of days. I wish Dakota could tell me what she wanted. Yes, I've been looking for hints of a message in her soft, brown eyes. She is staying at Dr. Ramos' for the weekend, getting everything she needs to stay comfortable. I miss her face already.

Staying positive,
Shanti and Kota

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hours later, news on Dakota

If you did not have a chance to read my post from earlier today, I took Dakota to the vet this morning because her condition was not improving while staying with Colin and I. We didn't want to see her get worse before she got better. And now we know why Dakota is not up for frolicking in fields these days.

Terrible news...Dr. Ramos found several (7 to 8) broken ribs on Dakota's chest X-ray. The X-ray shows that these ribs are broken in such a way that they are digging into portions of her organs, including her lungs, hence her respiratory problems. As if that weren't enough, Dakota also has a hernia (seems like it is diaphragmatic), which explains her eating behaviors and loose stool. Long story short, Dakota is in a lot of pain.

I made an appointment at a veterinary surgeon referred to me by Dr. Ramos for tomorrow morning at 9. Dakota will be spending the night at the vet's office tonight so she can receive the necessary medical attention for her condition....though I wish we could just take her home and feed her chicken and cheese (the only thing she has been willing to eat at our apartment) all night. The surgical specialist will be able to tell me the extent of her internal damage and what options we have in terms of surgery and physical therapy. Yes, there is a possibility that Dakota would be better off being laid to rest...but we're staying hopeful and willing to do ANYTHING if it means she can eventually live a happy and pain-free life.

Right before I put Dakota in my car on the day of her rescue, Jan. 22, 2008

The cause of the 7 or 8 broken ribs??? Well, it's always hard to say with these satos, but Dr. Ramos believes these bones were most likely broken in the same incident that caused her past leg fracture. Considering the damage done, most likely her injuries were caused by being hit by a car or severely beaten some time ago (possible estimate of a year ago based on how her fractures have healed). She's held strong for so long, and we're not about to give up on her now.

Keep your thoughts on sweet Kota...

Dakota, hospitalized again...pobre chica

Dakota, days after her rescue and days before falling terribly ill. She's not out of the woods yet...
Photo by Liz Kracht

Well, after 5 days of keeping Dakota with us, she unfortunately is not much better than she was the first time we hospitalized her. She barely eats, sleeps 20 hours a day or so, seems sad (not characteristic of her at all) and lacks motivation to do pretty much anything. It's been breaking Colin and my hearts, though she gets up whenever she sees us and wags her tail Dakota-style (reminiscent of a propeller's circular motion) to show she is still all love.

I couldn't stand waiting to see if she'd get better with a few more days since she still has prominent signs of some sort of illness the vet has not been able to peg (a flu, possibly?) off the Dr. Ramos' we went this morning. I brought a fecal sample and let the doctor know everything I did about her condition. He said he would do some X-rays on her chest and head to make sure there isn't something more complicated going on, look at her stool again and keep her hospitalized until we have clearer answer as to how we can make her better.

Dakota is an absolute angel and deserves all the medical treatment she needs to get better. This is where I have to ask those who are able to donate whatever you can to Amigos de los Animales and the Los Machos Beach Project to help Dakota get back on her feet again. Even $10 would help....anything. Jamie Sherr, Cisco's sponsor, was kind enough to pass on the remaining funds of her donation intended for Cisco's rescue toward Dakota's first hospitalization (Thanks, Jamie!!). Unfortunately, we do not have funds right now to cover the cost of her second stay at the vet's. This is not to say we won't find a way...just that some help would be immensely appreciated, as it always is.

I'm just looking forward to the next time I see Dakota doing her thing and being spunky: running in figure eights in a grass field until her point of exhaustion, when she proceeds to walk her figure eights and then plop dramatically into the grass, feet in the air, tongue seemingly a foot long dangling from her mouth with what looks like a giant smile on her face. Watching Dakota play is a priceless experience.

A pre-rescue picture of Dakota, playing with fellow Los Machos sata, Riley

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bass and Cisco are officially stateside!

Yesterday, two of our Los Machos satos (among several other satos) officially flew to New Jersey to be put up for adoption at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center. It was a beautiful night. I have no doubt in my mind that Cisco and Bass will be adopted easily. Of course, I will have updates about their adoptions as they happen.

Cisco and Bass, from top to bottom, both in crates next to each other at the San Juan airport, moments away from flying to St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ

On a less happy note, our darlin' Dakota fell quite ill at her foster home. While I was in California, I received a call from Adri (her foster momma) saying that Dakota was depressed, not eating and getting even skinnier than she already was...hard to believe. A week prior to this call from Adri, I did notice during a visit to see her that her spirit was different. I, however, just chalked it up to her being overwhelmed by the male dogs that were also being fostered by Adri or that she was just going through an adjustment period.

As soon as I got back, we took her to the vet and had her hospitalized for 2 nights. Dr. Ramos seems to think she was simply depressed and her immune system failed to keep her healthy. I certainly hope that's the case. I took her to Colin and my apartment yesterday and will hang onto her until her antibiotics are finished and we see some meat on her bones. Poor baby...

Dakota, who took over our cat's bed, has a bony little butt we need to take care of
...she's still as sweet as ever.

While having her here, I'm realizing even more how loving of a dog she is and how wonderful it is to have her off the streets and closer to having a forever home. She's exceptional. In the small amount of time I've spent with this dog, she truly trusts me (it might be that I use a ridiculously annoying baby voice with her all the time). She does this with any person who is nice to's adorable.

Please keep yourselves informed of other sato-related happenings on this island, i.e. the recent decision to carry out the "beach adoption" of Dead Dog Beach in Yabucoa. I am hoping to take a week off from Los Machos rescuing to help out with the efforts to scoop up the remaining satos from Yabucoa. The rumor is that other beaches are in danger of similar actions by local governments. Check out Ginny's (from Manos por Patas) blog entry:


Friday, February 1, 2008

Introducing our sata, Boca

It dawned on me today that I haven't yet shared pictures of our sata, Boca. Boca was one of the first two rescues we took off Los Machos Beach in December. My husband, Colin, found her, or I should say she found him, about one quarter of a mile from the beach. She had a belly full of worms and the most pathetic little puppy face. Though we had already decided to foster Roxy, a Basenji-mix we found earlier that day, it was hard to resist taking Boca home as well. So we did. We unfortunately have no good pictures from the day we found her, but here's one of her now.

Boca, our sata, running away from the scary ocean...we're working on it.

Colin and I wanted to get a dog sooner or later, and sooner prevailed. She's graced our life with unlimited kisses and gratefulness. There's just something special about these satos. I highly suggest getting one of your own.