It was 10pm at night. The streets were busy with traffic and people. Apparently it was not an uncommon sight to see an injured dog on the side of the road. People would stop for a moment, glance at the puppy, shake their head and move on. We were horrified. My husband André remembered seeing a fire station a few blocks down the road. In about 10 minutes he returned with two firemen. We insisted the puppy be taken to a veterinarian immediately, telling them we would cover the costs. At first the firemen (Bomberos) were unwilling to help. Finally André was able to convince them to take him and the puppy to a local veterinarian.
After winding through several alleys in downtown Cabo they stopped at a small storefront with a sign "Baja Coyote" and waited for the doctor to arrive. At 10:45 PM Dr. Juarez arrived. He examined the puppy and said her shoulder was broken. My husband asked the doctor to do whatever was necessary to fix her shoulder and he would pay him. That evening when we returned to our hotel my husband said, "This puppy desperately wants to live and is fighting for her life." We made a commitment to do "whatever it takes" to ensure the puppy would get appropriate medical treatment and a good home.
The next day we returned, not knowing what to expect. It was an incredible surprise. Andre spoke and her tail began wagging. She had a large white cast that started at her neck, covered her left shoulder and leg, down to her foot. Dr. Juarez identified her as a 5-7 month-old border collie mix. He told us the shoulder was severely dislocated and would need a pin. It was beyond his qualifications to do the complicated surgery. We asked him to give her all the necessary vaccinations and discussed finding further treatment and a good home. Dr. Juarez told us the only good home she would ever have would be in America. In our hearts we knew this was true. We named her "Cabo" and flew home on Saturday with the agreement that Dr. Juarez would prepare Cabo’s papers, and we would bring her to the U.S. for treatment as soon as possible.
On Monday we began calling the airlines. Alaska Airlines had the only direct flight. I asked to speak with a supervisor at Alaska Airlines and explained our plight. The supervisor, Terry, had adopted several homeless animals herself and was active in the feral cat program in Alaska. She gave us a 7-day advance purchase price on a ticket for Andre to fly down the next day and bring Cabo home.
On Tuesday morning André drove to SFO, flew to Cabo San Lucas, and met Dr. Juarez at the airport. The doctor had completed her vaccinations and necessary papers to enter the United States. Cabo arrived safely on U.S. soil at 6 PM PDT, Tuesday, August 20th. Cabo was hungry and in pain.
Now came the task of finding a doctor to treat Cabo. I began calling non-profit animal organizations and asking for help. Leroy Moyer from Voices for Pets had referred several injured and abused animals to Dr. Rothe at the Disney Pet hospital in Concord. Leroy made the arrangements for us to see Dr. Rothe the next morning. Dr. Rothe told us Cabo’s shoulder was severely dislocated. Under anesthesia he was able to re-set it, but was not sure if it would stay in place. During the night the shoulder became dislocated again. The next morning Dr. Rothe discovered she was having muscle spasms and was unable to stand on her back legs.
Dr. Rothe directed us to an animal Neurologist in Berkeley where we took Cabo the same day. Dr. Peter McGuire, from the Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital, thoroughly examined Cabo, and his diagnosis was not optimistic. He told us she was displaying symptoms of Distemper, an often-fatal viral infection. To confirm his diagnosis, he performed a spinal tap, but the lab results wouldn’t be available before next Monday. He put her on antibiotics to prevent any secondary infection. If the results were positive for Distemper, shoulder surgery would be questionable. Cabo was released to our care for the weekend.
During the day we took Cabo on our front lawn and she seemed to enjoy the sun and the fresh air. She was calm and eager to try a few steps, still unable to bear weight on her dislocated shoulder and leg. Angela, a Vet technician for Dr. Rothe came to our home to visit Cabo. She said, "This dog has a special karma." That night Cabo barely slept, her muscle spasms were worse.
Monday morning we took our beloved little dog back to the Berkeley Hospital. Cabo was suffering so much we asked the doctor to keep her hospitalized where she could receive professional care. Dr. McGuire put Cabo on prednisone and sedated her to relieve the stress caused by the spasms. Cabo still needed the shoulder surgery desperately; but the Distemper was taking its toll. He told us we either needed to do the surgery and hope for a partial recovery from the Distemper virus or put her to sleep, since her chances of surviving the virus were slim. Dr. McGuire and his assistant Katie cared for Cabo in a very special way I will always remember. He told us the story of a puppy with Distemper he had treated in the past. After one year of treatment on prednisone the dog had almost a complete recovery. The doctor’s affection for Cabo had grown and he would consider adopting her if she made it through the virus. We hoped this would be the path for Cabo.
The next day I drove back to Berkeley and found Cabo to be looking better. She practiced walking on 3 legs, since her left shoulder was still dislocated. Dr. McGuire and I discussed our options again. We decided to go ahead with shoulder surgery the next day. Dr. Haburjak performed the surgery. The surgery was longer and more difficult than expected. The shoulder joint was full of scar tissue. A tedious 4-hour operation was completed. Two screws and 40 lb. fishing wire were used to keep the shoulder and leg in place, in addition to a large cast.
The next day I visited Cabo. She had an IV and was on morphine. Unable to move, she heard my voice, opened her eyes and licked my face. I thought to myself, "this little dog is going to make it". I visited her every day for the next few days. The first two days she seemed to be regaining strength. The next few days the Distemper flared up and she was unable to stand at all. Her spasms had progressed to her front legs and head. Dr. McGuire had hoped Cabo would be able to walk after the surgery with her cast. After further examination he was concerned the Distemper was in her brain and sadly shook his head, he had no answer for further treatment. The prognosis was very poor. We brought her home with large doses of prednisone. She was having difficulty holding her head up. I slept with her and held her close to me as she cried most of the night. The next morning she was very weak, unable to walk at all and her face twitched with spasms.
That afternoon I collected my thoughts. Her condition was deteriorating rapidly. Cabo was loosing her battle with this horrible virus. I didn’t want her to suffer anymore. She had been through enough. I said good-bye to my beloved little Cabo and arranged for her to be put to sleep that afternoon. Cabo fought a brave battle against Distemper but the odds were against her. We will never forget our little Cabo.
Our thanks to the following people:
Armando, a Bomberos from Cabo San Lucas
Dr. Juarez, Baja Coyote, Cabo San Lucas
Leroy Moyer, Voices for Pets
Dr. Rothe, Disney Pet Hospital in Concord
Angel, Veterinary Technician, Disney Pet Hospital
Dr. McGuire, Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital
Katie Montelongo, Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital
Dr. Haburjak, Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
It was late August and we were taking our long awaited family vacation. We were traveling to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for one week. As you're probably aware, homeless dogs are a big problem in Mexico. Very few shelters exist.
One evening downtown Cabo we noticed a puppy running freely on the sidewalk. After dinner and a stroll we came upon a group of people who had stopped to look at something on the sidewalk. As we approached the group we heard crying and whining. My heart sank. I knew it was the puppy we had seen earlier. She had been hit by a car and was lying on her side.