Friday, May 26, 2006

CAAT Named Pet Services Coordinator

CAAT put forth a proposal at the Emergency Social Services Pet Services Committee meeting last night in Vancouver to become the Pet Services Coordinator for the City of Vancouver. The committee, consisting of representatives from the Vancouver Pound, Vancouver Parks and Rec, the SPCA, etc, voted unanimously in favor. As the Pet Services Coordinator, CAAT will form a Pet Services committee. This committee will begin to draw up plans for the evacuation, sheltering, treatment and ongoing care of animals, and organizing volunteers to run the shelter/reception centre, in the event of a disaster in Vancouver. CAAT will work in conjunction with other groups such as the SPCA and humane society, both before and during a disaster, but will be the 'go-to' organization in the event of a disaster in Vancouver. CAAT hopes to set the standard protocols/template for other cities in Canada to follow.

For more information, you can email us at, or call 1-888-500-3330.

Note: Pictures have been added to final Fiji posting.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Final Four Days

April 13, 2006

Last day of work! We were supposed to split into two groups, but one of the villages was in the opposite direction of the others. As we only had access to one boat today, we all headed back to near the airstrip. My group went to Namara, and the other two groups went to Namalota, just up the road.

Our group set up with a very shaky surgery table. It leaned. A lot. We had Joseph tell the villagers we were there, and asked him to round up some dogs. He came back a few minutes later with a two month old pup, a female. We sedated her, and Joseph was back a few minutes later with her two littermates, both females. Then an adult female and another female pup. Five spays in a row; haven't had to deal with that yet. A lot more stressful and time consuming! We got through them fine, and then had five neuters in a row, so it all evened out.

The villagers were again very welcoming. The house we set up in front of made us hot chocolate and crackers. We left them our tarp as well as fishing line and hooks, as well as many toothbrushes and gifts. We again took pictures of the children and they all loved to see themselves. I even had a father ask to have his picture taken with his child. It's nice to be able to do something so ordinary (to us) and have it give so much pleasure. Same for the surgeries I guess--it is so natural for us and we are so honoured to be able to come into their villages and use our talents--but they are tremendously grateful to us.

There were many more dogs in this village than the ten we were able to do. We asked owners of other dogs, but they didn't want their dogs to have the surgery. Unsure why, but we can't force them.

We met up with the other groups in the big village, and they had already done 30! While we were walking to them, there was a bit of a downpour--it only lasted a few minutes, but we were soaked. It was actually quite refreshing.

They had two dogs sedated when we arrived, so we took a neuter, while they did the other. We then did a cat neuter, and one other dog spay. Jus as we were getting going on the spay, the skies opened up. It was an amazing rainfall. It lasted for about ten minutes, and there were huge puddles when it was over. We had to move the surgery tables from under the trees to under cover as were were getting drenched.

We finished the surgeries and we packed up while they were recovering. As were were walking out of the village, we ran into the health officer for the area, so Terrill showed and explained the ear tags. He recommended we write up a report to the Agriculture officer (the one responsible for the poisonings) to be sure it was all documented so these dogs would be spared.

Up to this point, our total is 196 surgeries. We are very proud of what we have done here. There are 6-7 dogs in Zachariah's village that may be brought to the resort for us to do tomorrow, but even if we don't, we have done amazingly well. Now for a couple days rest before we head for home.

April 14, 2006

Well, in spite of no alarm, I was awake at 6:15. I lay in bed for awhile, then wandered down to the beach with a cup of coffee.

After breakfast, some of the group went diving. I sat on the beach and read my book and relaxed. There were four dogs and a cat brought form the nearby village, so I got set up for their surgeries and when everyone came back from diving, we did them. That brought our total to 201. We had some lunch and then the divers got ready for another dive. Gord and I got ready for some fishing!

Zachariah took us out on the boat. He really wanted to find us some tuna. I just wanted to fish! I caught the first one, a big Spanish Mackerel. It was awesome--I don't think I've ever even seen a fish that big up close. The guys were mad, cause I used my "Heeeeeeere, fishy, fishy, fishy" lure and it worked! I caught then next one too. It was a bit smaller. Gord caught a big barracuda. It was a really great time. We saw an amazing sunset.

We showed off our catch and gave it to the kitchen. They said they would cook it for dinner tomorrow.

The rest of the evening was spent with a drink or two on the beach, and some great conversation. I was in bed early again. Just wiped from our two weeks here.

April 15th, 2006

Our last day...Up early again for coffee on the beach. After breakfast, most of us went either diving or snorkeling. I finally got brave and free dove down about 10 feet. It was so great. I got very close to the most beautiful fish. I've only ever been that close when they were in an aquarium.

It is a beautiful day for our last one here. Few fluffy white clouds, but otherwise blue sky and sunshine. I am sitting on the beach as I write this with a puppy around somewhere, and Scarface, the local dog, chasing a bird down the beach. Happiness is...

See the puppy?

We went snorkeling again later, Donna, Norma and I. We kayaked out to a nearby reef. We took some great underwater photos. It was quite breezy and there was a bit of an undertow to contend with. Paddling back to shore took some muscles too!

Our final kava party started on the beach, but had to be moved indoors when the rain started. We were treated to some Polynesian dancing along with our singing tonight. Dinner was Gord's barracuda. Yummy. We had one of my fish for lunch.

April 16th, 2006

The Guys: Isaac, Dan, Vo, Junior, Bate, Zacchariah

It was hard to leave! These people became good friends in a very short time. They sang to us as we left on the boat. They had given us all corsages, and they sang (in Fijian) "If you will come back to see us again, throw your flowers in the water". So of course we all did. Annalisse has requested that we return in two years time to take care of any dogs that we missed this trip, and of course any that have been born in the meantime.

Our flight from Kadavu was delayed a little bit, and our team was split up. We got the smaller plane, and I was sitting right behind the co-pilot's seat. You can bet I was watching all those instruments closely! It was actually quite a nice flight, very little turbulence.

We did a bit of shopping in Nadi as we had several hours before our flight. We also had a wonderful dinner on the beach. We toasted each other and the work that we had done.

The flight home was long, but uneventful. No major turbulence this time, thank goodness. We flew into Hawaii with the most amazing sunrise out the window of the plane. We arrived home at 6pm to our families. I will miss the team, and the work, but it is always good to be home!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Lagalevu (Long-a-lay-voo)

April 12, 2006

Today my team went to a village called Lagalevu. The name means 'big leg'--derived from an Elephantitis outbreak. It was a small village, and there were only six surgeries, plus an ear tag on an already-neutered male. Some of the dogs were chasing the chickens and the men would chase the dogs and kick them if they got the chance. It made me nauseous to see that. The dogs weren't hurt, but it goes against everything I know. But then, cuddling the dogs, as we do, is against everything they know. All we can do is demonstrate the love and caring that we have toward these creatures, and perhaps we will educate them. At the same time, if a dog chases and kills a chicken, the family may be without meat or eggs.

Again, we were served tea. This time though, the villagers didn't sit with us, but close enough for us to chat. One of then men, named Edward, had been in the British Army. He had trained in London and then gone to serve in Northern Ireland. He had also travelled to Vancouver. We asked if it was difficult to be back after having been to the big city. He said no, he realized that he had much living to do, and may not get to do it in the armed forces. He said he enjoyed being on 'Fiji time'.

We met up with the other two teams who were together in one large village. They had done a total of 15 surgeries. They were just having thier lunch, so we st with them while they ate.

It was still fairly early in the afternoon, so we went back to Vunisei, as there were many dogs that were not done the day we were there. We had six more dogs--two adults and four pups. The pups were unbelievably flea-ridden and weak. We weren't sure they would survive the surgery, but it was better to give them a chance than possibly subject them to a poisoning later. It was very hard for me to be involved with those four--they were so small and weak. A critter shouldn't have to start out life like that. They were completely anemic from fleas. They all survived the surgery, but I cried for them as we left the village.

I went for a walk by myself down the beach when we got 'home'. Just needed some time to come down from the stress of the day. I am getting tired--we all are. Just one more work day.

(Note: We got word before we left on April 16th that all four pups were doing well.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


April 11, 2006

Whew! Busy day! We were taken by boat to Vunisei (different from Vunisea). It is towards the northern part of the island, at the 'skinny' part. We walked overland to the other side, where we were picked up by boat and taken to our villages. My team went to Junior's village, Muanisolo. From the water, it was not apparent that there was anything there--we had to walk uphill about a kilometer. Junior took us to his house and we met his mother. We then went to the community center, where we set up. There were four dogs waiting right away. We sedated the first two and got started. The firsts, a male, seizured under anesthetic, so we had to give some valium. The seizure stopped, and the surgery went well. All the dogs looked alike, and were likely related, so we decided to give some valium in all the anesthetic protocols.

The next dog was a female, and we had difficulty with her as well. The area where the ovaries are removed started bleeding after being tied off, so Gord had me glove up to help him out. We found the source, and tied it off; she recovered well.

We had a wonderful lunch of kasava and fish samosas made by Junior's mom. Once again, we felt totally and completely welcomed. We asked Junior's mom about his growing up--he is the mischievous one of the group of guys at the resort. He is a lot of fun, and has been extremely helpful to all the teams. He has said that he would like to be a Vet and it shows. He picks things up very quickly, just watching us, and then doing. We have encouraged him to look into going to Australia to Vet school.

Junior's Mom

On the way back to work from lunch, we picked up three male puppies to neuter--they are so cute! So young, but while we are here, we want to sterilize as many as possible to avoid poisoning...
It was a fantastic day and we ended up doing 19 surgeries in all! Seventeen dogs and two cats, including Junior's dog (9 years old!) and cat, and an 11 year old dog. Most of the dogs don't live to this old an age. We are exhausted, it is 4:30, and we have been going since about 9am. It is a good exhausted.

My favorite dog of the trip--don't know why, just a sweet guy...

The elders insist that we have just one 'low tide' with them before we go for the day. They are most grateful: "Thank you for coming to help our village and God Bless You". We are honoured.

The hike home

A very long day, we didn't get back to the resort until after 6pm, after walking back over the hill to catch our boat home. We got to see a wonderful sunset. We had dinner, played a bit of cards, and listened to some singing by Zacchariah. A great end to a great day.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Palm Sunday and A Jungle Bridge

April 09, 2006

Ahhhh, a day off. Slept in a little bit, had coffee on the beach before breakfast. We were on the boat to leave for church at about 9:45. We all had to wear Sulu's, the long skirts, even the men.

It was Palm Sunday, so the children let the service. A couple of the kids were so nervous when they did their parts they cried. I felt so bad for them. I can remember doing the same readings when I was in Sunday School. There's were all in Fijian of course, but we understood the gist of it. The singing was again amazing. The only downfall was that it was amazingly hot in the church. A couple of us thought we might pass out, but we made it through.

Afterwards, we gave out a backpack full of toys--balls, dolls, combs, tattoos and stickers. Gord spent about 1/2 hour putting tattoos on the kids. Once again we were swarmed for the goodies. Not pushing and shoving though, just patiently. We took many pictures--the kids so love seeing themselves on the screen.

A few of us walked back to the resort through the jungle. One man from the village walked with us as a guide---it was just a trail, so we couldn't have really gotten lost. It was a beautiful walk, VERY hot though. Zacchariah and many of the other staff walk home over the trail every night--often in the dark, and most without shoes. I had difficulty in shoes in the light at some points!

We went out on the boat--some for a scuba dive, some for snorkeling. Deeper than we had been before. I saw a very large school of blue fish with yellow fins. There was much mushroom coral here as well. There was quite a strong current, and it was difficult to swim against it. I had to get out of the water after a while, as I was getting eaten alive by sea lice. They feel like little needles all over. Not pleasant when you feel one under your swim suit...

Back to the beach for a lazy afternoon. One of the village pups comes for a visit. She lay in my lap like a baby for quite awhile--giving her a tummy rub made me miss my own dog a little less. I think these dogs don't get much love. We all sat on the beach chatting and enjoying the Fijian breeze until the sun went down.

April 10, 2006

My team went to Waisea's village today--called Nau Cewai (pronounced Now Thee Way). We dropped the other teams off at their villages and we walked a short distance down the beach to a river (Nau Cewai means village by the river). We had to cross a 'jungle' bridge across. All I can say, is I'm glad Waisea was carrying our suitcase!

They had real bridges at one point, one built by the American and one by the Japanese government, but they were both wiped out by hurricanes. This one seemed to work well enough!

Waisea took us to his house and invited us in. All the houses we have been in have linoleum for flooring--and not necessarily matching in all areas of the house. Whys (his nickname) was the first house that had furniture to sit on: 2 chairs, a sofa seat and a coffee table. We sat for a bit, while they set us up a surgery table. We noticed two turtle shells hanging on the wall--Whys had caught them and dried their shells.
Our surgery table ended up being a piece of plywood over a large oil barrel, with 4 smaller kerosene barrels, a rock and a piece of wood thrown in. Under a large breadfruit tree. That was dropping frisbee sized leaves onto the table. Pretty wild stuff! Right away there were three dogs there, a female and two males. We sedaated a male and the female and got started. Following those, there were three pups, all males, maybe two months old.

All the surgeries went well, although there were only the six. We were prepared to do some cats, but the only one they could catch escaped just before they got him to us. And man, did he move! He launched himself out of his 'captors' arms and he was gone.

We handed out many gifts again, including pencils, pins and toothbrushes. The kids all lined up for things. While we were working, the kids had picked some coconuts (bu in Fijian) for us to drink the milk. They also brought us many lemons and mandarin oranges. We had a bit of a feast before we headed back to the other teams.

Back over the bridge we go, Whys with our suitcase slung over his shoulder, the rest of us shuffling behind. We went back to where the rest of the group was. They were still working, but didn't need our help, so we went to meet Whys' wife, who cooks for the teacher of this village. She invited us in, of course, and presented us with necklaces made of shells that their daughter had made. A beautiful souvenier.

At this point we headed back to the group and they were finishing up. Lunch had been brought from the resort, so we sat and ate before packing up and heading back.

I spent the rest of the day reading, and scouring the beach for washed up treasures. I found many beautiful shells of types I had never seen. Pieces of dried coral; one piece that was bright red, and a few that were pink. Some shells I picked up and discovered an occupant--hermit crabs. So many of them, and from teeny tiny to large enough to hurt with their pincers.

Dinner (after a bit of kava, music and dancing) was cooked over a lovo--an earth oven. A fire is built and then allowed to burn down to coals. The meat, fish and root vegetables (taro and kasava) were all wrapped in woven palm leaves and then placed directly in the coals. Palm leaves were then laid over everything to keep the heat in. It was delicious, with a lightly smokey flavour to everything.

(Note, after the fact--this was one of my favorite days. From the crazy bridge we crossed, to the crazy surgery table, to the breadfruit tree leaves, to the necklace keepsake, to watching kids scale coconut trees to pick coconuts for us, to the amazing dinner. And we did 22 surgeries between the three teams. This day felt like we experienced Fiji!)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


April 8th, 2006

Our team went to Vo's village today--Daku. Terrils team stayed at the resort and Zacchariah brought dogs from his village (a 20 minute hike) to the resort. Donna's team went to Venusei, which was very close to Daku.

We were taken to Vo's families house as soon as we arrived. We ere invited in for juice and bread while Vo went and arranged a space for us. He got a table and set us up under a palm tree on the beach. Within minutes we had about 6 dogs and a kitten waiting. We went to work and had 10 surgeries done by noon--nine dogs and a cat. We were brought cookies and juice mid-morning, and Vo's wife made us a beautiful lunch of chicken and noodles. We continued on with three more cats after lunch--unfortunately one of them died. There it heartworm disease here, so it is possible (even likely) that he had it, and the anesthesia was too much of a stress on his heart. The owner was not very upset, just very grateful for the fact that we had come. She had two female cats whose surgeries went fine. Gord, Sarah and I felt terrible of course. We had prepared ourselves for the possibility, but preparation doesn't make it easier.

Me, with a new friend

After we were finished surgery, we were asked to join the villagers for kava. We had to wait for the other teams to come and pick us up. We laughed and sang, and painted fingernails with the polish we had brought (even some of the guys obliged!!!)We waited for an hour and a half, and Sarah and I both had too much and felt very sick afterwards. But once again, we felt so welcomed by the people. They just bring you in as though you are family. Sarah and I walked to the bathroom, and we each had a 3 year old attached to us for the walk. The kids just crawled all over us, sat in our laps. One boy got all dressed up in a tie and suit jacket to serve us lunch. They are very loving childre--many instances of the older ones caring for the younger. They also make up their own fun--some took a rope and a stick and 'fished' for Gord's shoes while we were visiting. We took many pictures and they were all happy to oblige.

Vo with his 2 daughters, and Bate

On our walk through the village one of the kids dragged us towards the church--we were invited in by the Sunday school teachers and made to sit. They sang a song they were practicing for tomorrow--Palm Sunday. Once again, I marveled at the incredible harmonies. We didn't want to interrupt their rehearsal, so we thanked them and excused ourselves. They will go so far out of their way to be welcoming, even if it disrupts their day it seems.

We got back to the resort and compared stories. Terril's team did 10, Beths's 12, and ours 13. We exceeded our goal of 30! It was a great day. We played a bit of cards and had dinner. I am writing this at 8:45pm, and we are already in bed! Long days and hard work, but a good tired. Tomorrow we go to Zacchariah's village for church!


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