Photos: Daniel Silva
Photos: Daniel Silva
A year ago, I brought back a cheap pair of boots from the United States.
The puppy found them great fun to chew on. The tongue on the right is mostly destroyed, and the backs of both have suffered as well. That’s unfortunate, but not sad.
In general, I can’t find shoes my size here, and when I do, they’re anything but cheap. Again, unfortunate, but not sad.
In addition to the structure of the shoes, Mocha apparently finds the laces to have a lovely mouthfeel. I’ve had to tie them together and figure new lacing patterns. That’s annoying (and challenging) but not sad.
Yesterday we were gone to Montevideo for many hours, and Mocha got to them again. This time the laces were severed in a way that made them unusable. Very annoying. But still not sad.
Only then, after months of putting up with this, did it occur to me to simply buy new laces.
I find that quite sad. Maybe I’ve been in Uruguay too long?
You may recall I have not had great success with Mercado Libre, the Craigslist of Latin America. But, learning about training dogs on Doggy Dan’s site, and watching Mocha run in front of cars, completely ignoring me, before I could get him on leash after our most recent beach walk, I decided I needed to train with a dog whistle. So I went to three vet shops in town, only to find none had one (interestingly, after being corrected by the first I asked for a chifle instead of silbato; I now learn that chifle really means a child’s plastic whistle, so silbato was the correct term after all?).
Anyway, nice day, riding around town on my bike, so what next? What about Mercado Libre?
Sure enough I found one for about USD 6- with free delivery. OK, why not? I ordered it (after inquiring if they actually had it). That was Monday. This morning, Wednesday, a moto pulled up in front of our house, beeping his horn for me to sign and take delivery.
¡Increible! The training involves developing a neural pattern where your dog is insanely happy to hear the whistle, because it means he’s getting a lovely morsel of hot dog or something equally scrumptious, and comes running like crazy. Which is exactly what Mocha did today when I again walked with Syd and dogs. Well, at least once.
A bit complicated, but after putting down Benji – who had attacked Jordan, Syd’s only male dog, twice, despite our efforts to ameliorate, after our absence because of Mocha’s broken leg — Mocha and I rejoined them further along the walk route, since Mocha needed more walk training, and the off-leash point from Syd and Gundy’s house usually involves a half dozen or more dogs, most loose. Ten minutes later Gundy found Jordan in their driveway, trembling. Apparently encountering Mocha in the place he last encountered and got beat up by Benji was all it took to create a flight response.
So today we started together from the house, and all went well. Until Jordy – who spends most of the walk prospecting for rabbits – didn’t make a cameo appearance halfway through. Syd was convinced he’d again bailed, but a few minutes later he appeared. I decided this deserved a reward, so called “Come, Jordy,” from ten meters. He did! I gave him a little pancho (hot dog) treat. Well, that was it for his sister Kiya (KEE-shah). She walked behind me, licking one hand, then the other. I finally found an excuse to reward her with a treat, but it was so interesting — neither the two sister dogs Sophia and Lorena nor the “sharp knife” Leah took any interest. Only Kiya: you’re giving my brother a treat — I don’t care WTF he’s done — and not me?
Ah, dogs. Ah, kids.
Here are a couple of very short videos (combined under a minute) of Mocha today, running in the country and trying to get the Shih Tzu Bandido to play. He tries over and over and over, but Bandido is having none of it!
The second one is just for fun, but the first is to prime you for something rather extraordinary. Below are the x-rays of Mocha’s right thigh bone on May 1, less than four months ago.
Amazingly, the surgeon first cut into the thigh to align the bones, then inserted a pin the length of the femur, from the hip. We had our work cut out for us, keeping Mocha from playing with Benji. The pin had to stay in at least five weeks. After two weeks, the vet explained that Mocha hurt after being active from the pin rubbing the skin from beneath. He also told us that if the pin broke the surface, he would have to remove it, ready or not (oh shit!). Happily, Mocha made it to five weeks, and gradually started putting weight on the leg.
The cost of the surgery, including boarding a couple nights and all followups? 12,000 pesos, or about USD 415. No complaints!
What happened: on our way to walk with Syd and dogs, Mocha jumped or fell out the window. We had just gotten off the highway, thankfully, and I wasn’t going very fast. Just a sudden terrified shrieking, and there’s Mocha in the grass on the side of the road behind us. A friend who returned to the States for a while had generously loaned us his car for two months (I did spend USD 800 on repairs, but still cheaper than renting!) until we could find something to replace the Meriva. Unlike the Meriva, which had a child-safety switch well protected from casual switching, the borrowed car (also a Chevy) had a button near the window controls that was easily deactivated accidentally. The dogs stood up on the window switch in back to stick their noses out the open top, the window went down, and one way or another Mocha went out. I had only been manually checking the rear window controls every other day or so.
But what happened next was quite amazing. Our friend Isabel, who grew up in Uruguay but spent 45 years in the U.S., had introduced us to a wonderful vet who works out of a rather primitive space in her home in nearby Marindia. She speaks no English, and generally we have no trouble communicating, but obviously in this case a translator would be helpful. As I pulled into the block where Gabriela lives, what did I see but Isabel 30 seconds ahead of me, parking! I carried her dog in for her, as well as Mocha. After a brief examination, Gabriela said we’d need x-rays. Maybe she could get a mobile x-ray service there, or I could take him somewhere, or get the mobile x-ray to our house. This was all sounding complicated. For some reason, Isabel called a local vet, chatted a minute or two, hung up and said, “The mobile x-ray service will be at SAV in Atlántida in ten minutes. Take him there. There are four dogs ahead of you.”
Isabel arranged an appointment with the vet surgeon, and went with me every time (25 minutes toward Montevideo, in Shangrilá, near where we helped out the dog lady). Turns out not only did we know the vet from taking our dog Karma for x-rays years ago when he was nearer, but he was also a teacher of our neighbor, veterinarian Mariana, in the campo. And considered one of the three best veterinary surgeons in Uruguay.
I’m in no position to evaluate that. But seeing Mocha scampering around today, less than four months later, he obviously did a good job!