cost of dog rescue

A Cuban Rescue, Part Two

Read Part One of Coco the Cuban street dog’s story by clicking here.

Coco had had her first adventure when she was taken in a taxi to see a vet, likely for the first time in her life. Her next big adventure was a flight all the way from Cuba to Canada.

Once on Canadian soil, the border services folks seemed to imply that I had stolen this dog: “You mean you just took her?” The point was, I suggested gently, that she had no value in Cuba—no owner, no hope for a healthy life, and no worth to anyone. They waved us through, and we were finally on our way home.

Coco loved the other dogs--and the snow!

Coco loved the other dogs–and the snow!

Once home, Coco loved the other dogs, the cat, and the snow! It didn’t take her long to find the couch and soft dog beds, either!

My vet gave her boosters and, after more tests, determined that she had lice and also had parasites of a type that hadn’t been treated at their clinic before, called anaplasmosis. More medicine. Her milk dried up, her skin healed, she started to gain a little weight, and her coat started to fill in. But her bloodwork was still abnormal, and her stools were loose. Another couple of tests later, it was clear she had hookworms. Lots of them. More medicine.

Overall, her health seemed to be improving, although I noticed that she still had some vaginal bleeding. The vet thought it was a false heat, common after having pups. Then, Coco had a bona fide heat cycle. Okay, I thought, all normal. Other foster dogs came in and got adopted. And still, Coco continued to drip. In April, I said goodbye to Buttons, after 16 years together. In May, Coco’s bloodwork had improved enough to spay her: she needed to have the whole lot out, a complete hysterectomy. We sent Coco’s kennel plus five more down to Ingrid in Cuba. (APAC is always in need of kennels and other pet supplies!)IMG_0056

Following Coco’s recovery, we enrolled in training classes at Dogs on Campus. She loved the classes: happy to work, happy to learn new things, and oh so very happy to meet new people. After graduation, we enrolled in agility class.

Coco’s drip continued, though, and I worried she would become anemic. Back we went to the vet: more bloodwork (maybe hookworms again?), swabs, urinalysis, cystoscopy, a gynecological exam, and a tissue sample that went to the lab for analysis.

By now she had weaselled her way onto my bed at night….

Then the bomb: she has a cancerous tumour,  one that can be spread by direct contact: canine transmissible venereal tumour. Treatment involves chemotherapy and maybe surgery. APAC has rescued and treated dogs with venereal tumours that have done well with treatment, so this gives me hope for Coco. It’s (again) the first case the clinic here has treated.

IMG_0016The tumour is usually spread by sexual contact but can also be spread by licking, although the risk of transmission by that route is considered low. I’m nevertheless worried since many dogs have stayed here over the months: foster dogs, dogs overnighting on transport, neighbours’ dogs. My most recent fosters, Sammy (who was with TAGS) and Reggie (who was with Gentle Jake’s), were just fine, thank goodness, and have since been adopted (yay!).

Coco has had three chemo treatments at Millbrook Valley Vet Clinic (and her bloodwork is done at Taunton Road Animal Clinic). In true Cuban spirit, she has been resilient through the ordeal, remaining her usual happy, seemingly healthy self. And, fortunately, with the third treatment, the tumour has begun to shrink.

But Coco isn’t going anywhere: I have adopted her. Please keep your paws crossed for her. I will share an update (and maybe one of Cathy’s famous DNA contests?) soon!