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Friday, August 31, 2012

Wanted: Intrepid Dog Walker

Need four times daily dog walks for Molly & Moya.  Dogs must be walked independently otherwise, they fight with each other.  Walks occur in wild game reserve.  Dog walker must be fearless and prepared.  Regularly sightings include elephants, buffalo, giraffes, lions, and leopards.  Must not let dogs be attacked or eaten by any predators.

Sign me up?

At C.A.R.E. we have 2 dogs, Moya and Molly.  Moya lives in the Mountain Lodge with the volunteers, regularly snuggling up with someone each night, while Molly lives with Rita down in the Milk Kitchen.  In the days following Piet’s attack, I had A LOT of dog-walking shifts and consequently got to know Moya & Molly very well.  My arm hurt too much to be down at my side for long though, and especially hurt to swing so this translated to holding the dog lead in my left hand while my right either rested on top of my head or grasped my shirt collar, both positions uncomfortable and/or annoying. 
Moya with the 5.5 week old orphaned "Tank"

I had been scorned one time during these walks for wandering too far out of the C.A.R.E. gates (i.e. the end of the long driveway and down the road).  In fact, the day I had been “caught” I was at a much shorter distance than I had frequently traversed…  My motivation had been body movement and exercise to replace some of my injury-induced sedentary behavior.  I was getting really restless and yearned for long mind-clearing walks.  About 1 week after my many long dog walks, I was rewarded with quite a frightening, yet extraordinary, sight: 3 male elephants foraging about 600 ft from me.  Amazing!  

Friday, August 17, 2012

The night the sky turned orange

On Friday night, July 27, 2012, C.A.R.E. sustained a horrible fire that destroyed 1 of our 2 main buildings.  There were 15 volunteers and staff members here that night.  We ran into the burning building full of fear and trepidation to save 35 baby baboons in sleeping cages, 5 clinic patients, and in the upstairs small apartment the founder, 81-year old Rita Miljo and 3 baboons in cages in her indoor/outdoor living quarters.  Tragically Rita, and her 3 baboons, Bobby, Foot, and Sexy, perished in the blaze.  It has been nearly 3 weeks since the fire occurred, and I am just now putting it all into words.  I do wish I would have written down my thoughts prior to this, but the raw emotion was difficult to touch.  The “FULL LENGTH” version complete with a lot of emotion is below, if you are inclined to read it.

The story was all over the world.
Here’s one sample from the New York Times: Rita Miljo, ‘the Mother Teresa of Baboons,’ Dies at 81

Late in the fire
At C.A.R.E. we cook dinners communally each night, while breakfast and lunch are on-your-own.  Once the “Dinner!” call is shouted by the chef du nuit, we all trickle into the kitchen to serve ourselves buffet-style.  Melissa, a friend and fellow volunteer from Buffalo, NY, embarked upon the attempt to cook everyone a sit-down meal one Friday night: appetizers, salad, pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce simmered all afternoon, garlic bread, wine, and tiramisu for dessert.  We pushed our 3 big tables together for one grand family table for all 15 of us.  Everyone was in good spirits.  Some of us even put on nicer clothes in lieu of the standard ripped t-shirts and dirt-stained pants.  Dinner tasted great, but all of us together sharing, laughing and breaking bread was even better.  After dessert no one rushed off to bed, for smokes outside, or solitary to their room.  Melissa’s idea was a warm overwhelming success.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Piet, but no Repeat

Continuation from Enter. Do not Enter.
After a swift yet blurry walk down the hill to the Clinic on-site, my bloody arm was carefully cleaned and wrapped by the Vet Tech on staff.  It was noted that the bite had torn through the epidermal fat layer and just grazed the muscle tissue.  OWW!  Of course, Murphy’s Law would apply next… The truck to town would not start.  It was over 45 minute drive to town to the doctor… walking was not an option.  The battery, the water pump, who knows what was broken…

My arm and knee continued to pulse.  Badly.  I sat in a state of bewilderment for what seemed like hours and what seemed like only fleeting moments.

Finally an hour later, the truck powered up the hill and we were off 15 miles to town (45 minutes!) to a doctor whose name we didn’t know how to spell, a number that we didn’t know, and an office location that was partially known.  After a brief moment of bad news that the doctor’s schedule was too full to see me, 15 minutes later he had me on the surgery table injecting local anesthesia, cleaning the wound (moving around so much flesh that I tried not to look due to nausea, but couldn’t resist!), and eventually suturing me together again.  I walked out stitched, bandaged, and calm.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Enter. Do not enter.

Only 2 times in my life have I freely let out blood-curdling screams representative of horrific fear for life and limb.  Screams that action and horror movies are made of, extreme scenes like Psycho and the opening of Spiderman II to engage the audience.  The first time I screamed like this was in middle school.  I was walking home from school, only 3 houses away from my own, when a big dog jumped the fence and lunged after me.  The dog did not attack me, by some wonder, but the barks and teeth exposure had me fooled.  I was sure he wanted to tear me into shreds, and my scream mimicked my fear of impending attack.  It was spontaneous, uncontrollable, and emphatic.  Shaking and scared, I ran home as soon as the dog retreated.  I was unscathed physically, but mentally quite shaken.  We had dogs at home, and I never translated this near attack to any other canine.

The second time I screamed this same blood-curdling scream and genuinely feared for my life occurred a few weeks ago.  For less than 10 seconds I was trapped in a cage with an adult male baboon, Piet ( pronounced “Pete”).  

I entered his cage under the auspices of scrubbing the water dam, but apparently he did his own housekeeping.