Flaca the Shepherd

The story of Flaca
On July 30 2017 a very, very skinny German shepherd slowly walked up to the reception of Hosteria Izhcayluma. The manager tried to feed her dog food, but she wasn’t very interested. She didn’t want to take the food from me either, so I gave it a try with some bread with ham. First she didn’t want to eat this either, but after I put it in her mouth and she tastes some of the food, she started eating. She ate all the ham and some of the bread. Then I gave her a can of tuna fish, which she finished completely.
The next few days I asked the kitchen staff to save me some food left over’s from the restaurant and I also bought a box with 60 cans of tuna fish.
Although she was very picky on her food, she slowly started to eat more and gain a bit more energy. This made me happy, because now she would have a change to survive. By that time we were all used to call her Flaca (which means skinny in Spanish).
After a few days, when she’d gained some more weight I washed her with special anti-infection and anti-parasites soap and I also bought her ant-parasites tablets from the vet in the village. In total I already took at least more than 30 death ticks from her fur…

A few more days and Flaca was doing much better, but was still a bit slow, so I decided to take her to the vet in Vilcabamba to get her examined.
On the 9th of August it turned out that Flaca, who had already gained some weight measured now 22 kg, which should have been minimum 32 kg for a healthy dog of her size. She also had a fever of 41 degrees C. her blood was too transparent and she was most likely carrying a tick disease. On top of that she was even losing some blood from her vagina.
I thought I had seen some blood the day before, but wasn’t sure, this time however it was clear that Flaca was losing blood and turned out to be in heath… Flaca received that day 5 injections with medicine and vitamins and also received an antibiotics and vitamin cure for 7 days.

On August 17 we went back to the vet. Flaca had gained again a few more kg, was eating much better and had no more fever, even her blood was already a bit darker. To help her recovery and to support an injection with a stronger medicine against ticks and other parasites, she got 4 more vitamin injections. She would now be completely free of ticks, so I could bring her down into the garden of the farm (Finca) where I was staying. This Finca belongs to one of the owners of Izhcayluma and the garden is home to 2 other huge male (sterilized) German shepherds. I didn’t want to bring Flaca into this garden before to avoid the risk to contaminate these dogs with the tick disease.
Now Flaca was healthy, I could introduce her to the other two male shepherds. Luckily Flaca and the other shepherds got along well.
Being able to let Flaca stay at the Finca made it much easier to keep her away from the male dogs from the neighborhood, which came to visit her it Izhcayluma. Flaca was still very much in heath and attractive, but the last thing I wanted was to get her pregnant. It already turned out to be more difficult than expected to find a new home for Flaca in Vilcabamba, so a pregnant Flaca would be much more difficult…
So far only one person in Vilcabamba had showed some interest, but when she heard that Flaca was likely ‘already’ 5 years old, she lost interest.

On August 26, we went again to the vet. Flaca was still free of fever and had gained up till 28.68 kg. But she was still very much in heath and already found out how to escape from the Finca to be with me in the restaurant of Izhcayluma. She basically tried to follow me everywhere, so we should find her a new home soon, before she gets too attached to me. Because Flaca was declared fully healthy now, I decided to also give her the first vaccinations. Maybe this would make it easier to find a new home for her. Someone had also pointed me to an NGO in Loja, which helps street dogs and cats to find new homes. This organization is called Cielo Animal and was very helpful. After a few days they found a family in Cuenca (4h30 min. by car from Vilcabamba) who wanted to adopt Flaca when she wouldn’t be in heath anymore and when she would be sterilized. Ok, that could work. They send us some pictures of their garden where Flaca would come to stay and we promised to stay in contact through Cielo Animal.

August 30, Flaca had gained one more kg and was now officially at least 21 days in heath. 21 Days is a normal cycle for German shepherds so hopefully she would soon stop losing more blood. The dogs from the neighborhood were at least slowly losing their interest.
To prevent the tick disease to come back, the vet decided to give Flaca one more antibiotics cure of 5 days.

 On September 1 in the morning Flaca ate normal (although she could still be a bit picky on her food sometimes), but in the afternoon she didn’t want to touch her food..? I gave her some tuna fish and we would see tomorrow.
The next two days I also had to put some effort in making Flaca eat, so when I went back to the vet on September 3, Flaca had lost 1 kg, had a temperature of 38.5 degrees C. and was still losing blood. Something else must be wrong with her…
Cielo Animal offered to get the blood of Flaca examined at a veterinarian clinic in Loja that they work together with. So I took Flaca in a taxi and we went the 41 km to Loja. The vet in Loja took several blood samples and said that, according to her teeth, Flaca was likely to be 8, instead of 5 years old…
Two days after the examines it turned out that Flaca had anemia and that the tick disease had returned. The previous antibiotic cure should have been at least 21 days and not 7, to fully kill the bacteria… Flaca got a new antibiotics cure for 21 days + an iron supplement. But preferable she would need a blood transfusion from another dog bigger than 25 kg…

After more than a week with the new treatment, there was still no improvement. Flaca was still losing blood and each day it became more difficult to make her eat, or even drink enough. I bought her pig meat, chicken, liver and more tuna to keep her interested in food, but it was getting hard…

September 20, today Flaca didn’t even want to eat ‘her chees’ anymore. For almost 2 months I had been feeding Flaca cheese with antibiotic pills in it (the pills didn’t sick well with ham and cheese worked great), but now I actually had to put the pills in her throat. This isn’t good.

September 21, Cielo Animal had found a donor in Loja to donate blood to Flaca, so I took her in a taxi again.
The first ‘donor dog’ was too light (22 kg) and the second dog moved way too much to get blood from her. It was decided to keep Flaca in the clinic from the vet in Loja and look for another dog to donate blood in the afternoon.
They found another German Shepherd, but before they could transfer his blood to Flaca the vet in Loja found out that Flaca had Pyometra, an infection in the uterus. Pyometra is considered a serious and life threatening condition that must be treated quickly and aggressively. Flaca got directly operated and her uterus was removed.
The next day she got her blood transfusion and already started to eat a bit of normal dog food again!
September 24, I picked Flaca up at the clinic and found out that an unknown woman had just donated 200 US$ for the operation of Flaca! The rest of the costs were paid by Cielo Animal and me. By that time I had already spend more than 400 US$ on taking care of Flaca, but now it finally seemed to pay off.
Flaca received yet another cure of different antibiotics for 7 days. She also had to continue with her iron supplement and eating chicken liver to improve the level of iron in her blood, but would now soon be healthy again, thanks to the help of many good people!

We just had one more challenge left. I was due to leave Vilcabamba in the first week of October for visa and work reasons, so we soon needed a new home for Flaca.
Cielo Animal contacted the family in Cuenca again. But at first they didn’t respond. I started to lose hope and went looking around in Vilcabamba again.
When the family from Cuenca finally answered they wrote that they were still interested and would pick Flaca up from Vilcabamba in the first week of October. By that time I had also found a family in Vilcabamba who was interested in adopting Flaca. Ik knew the lady from this second family from before and trusted her, but because of all the help I had received from Cielo Animal, I wanted to give the family from Cuenca the first choice.
I asked the family for an exact date to pick Flaca up, telling them that I would leave Vilcabamba latest on the 4th of October.

On Wednesday the 4th of October I still didn’t receive an answer from Cuenca, so I invited the family from Vilcabamba to come to Izhcayluma and have a look at Flaca. If they would like her and visa versa, they could adopt her.
Luckily Flaca and the family from Vilcabamba, especially the son, had a good click and by the end of the afternoon I brought Flaca to her new home. It was very sad to say goodbye and see that sad look on her face when we closed the door…

Now it’s Wednesday the 11th of October and after Flaca needed a few days to get used to her new home she now seems to be happy again. She even walks without a lease with the children of her new home through Vilcabamba :-)

Flaca and I received a lot of support from many different people during the past 2 months and I want to thank everyone who helped us to get Flaca better again! We couldn’t have done it without you.
With special thanks to Izhcayluma , Cielo Animal and the unknown woman who donated 200 US$ to safe Flaca!

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