So when I left in December for my vacation in the U.S., we had 5 dogs at my house; Scooby, Negra, Fido, Chase, and Kutu. Scooby lives with the pigs, Negra chases the chickens, Chase a small, dachshund-sized white dog picks on Fido, the larger male dog with a crooked smile and submissive tendencies, and Kutu is the matriarch of the bunch.
Kutu is about 5 years old and she is the boss. Whenever strange people come to the house, she warns us of their presence with her strange yodel-yelping woofs. Whenever other dogs come nearby, she fearlessly runs out to scare them away and show who’s in charge. Whenever Negra comes into heat, Kutu snarls at her for bringing all the boys to the yard. Kutu is the boss, the “Alpha-female”, the Presidente, and all the household dogs know it.
So call me surprised when I return to Perú to find out my family has gotten three kittens, and that mean, tough, dominating Kutu, has adopted them as if they were her own puppies. I didn’t believe it until I saw them huddled up sleeping together on several occasions. But the most unbelievable part is that not only does Kutu sleep with the kittens, she also suckles them. Perhaps Kutu has adopted the kittens and feeds them because she can’t have any puppies of her own, I’m not sure, but all I know is that every time I see the kittens suckling, my heart warms and I chuckle a little.
So it has been about 4 months since one of my neighbors brought Hazel Leia into my life. Those 4 months have been filled with a lot of trials and tribulations, such as choosing a name, teaching some basic tricks, convincing her to not eat chickens like her bad older brother, and trying and trying and trying to get her to stop crossing the road in front of my house. But, these 4 months have been extremely happy months for me as well because each day when I am returning to my house, I am greeted by an exuberant little puppy who can’t seem to contain her excitement at seeing me. Whenever I am feeling a bit down, her goofiness picks me right up, and she is certainly one of my favorite aspects of my Peace Corps service here in Perú.
Whereas when I first got Hazel, I could easily carry her in one hand, it now requires both just to pick her off the ground. When I first got her, she loved to enter my room and squeeze under my bed to take a nap for the afternoon or the evening. Now, after a few months of eating a wide assortment of foods, she had grown quite significantly and has quickly outgrown the underside of my bed, instead choosing to upgrade to the underside of my desk, where she now naps on my bags of Tara seeds. Given that Tara is a type of legume, you could say she has her very own personal bean bags.
But, everything hasn’t been sunshine and daisies unfortunately. About 1.5 months ago, after I arrived very late to my house due to an movie event in Caraz, I was greeted by my host-dad who let me know that my beautiful puppy Hazel Leia had been hit by a car. Since that was all my host-dad told me, I assumed that she had died and they had already disposed of her. However, after mourning her during a sad dinner, I decided to go check the spot where my host-dad was sitting earlier and found that Hazel was not dead, but was in fact severely injured. She could hardly move, had blood coming out of her nose, appeared to have difficulty breathing, and had several cuts all across her body. I was devastated, but thankful that she was alive. I sat with her for a while, and woke up several times during the night to check on her. When I finally woke up Sunday morning, she was lying outside my door, still very weak, but at the very least responsive. Since she had managed to move in front of my door during the night, I knew that she could walk in some capacity, and so I had lots of hope for her recovery. So, I scooped her up into a plastic tub and took her into town to visit a vet. Now, vets here in Perú are not equipped to a similar level we are accustomed to in the U.S., but it turns out that this vet had just enough. She gave Hazel a thorough check-up, cleaned off her wounds, and then gave me a script for medicine and told me some signs to watch out for in the following days.
While I was extremely worried about the fate of my new puppy, by the following day her spirit had renewed and she was up and about, probably operating at about 30%. Within 4 days of the accident, she was miraculously back to her old self, walking around without much hesitation, regaining her appetite slowly but surely. Those first few days post-accident were extremely trying, but she pulled through, recovered to her old self, and is now once again a happy and healthy puppy.
Unfortunately, her date with death hasn’t deterred her from crossing the road as I had hoped it would, but I do my best each day to scare her away from the road in the hopes that she will learn.
Now, all that remains is to get her dewormed and get her up-to-date on all of her necessary vaccinations. Hopefully by the end of next week, she will have reached the “US standard of puppy health”, apart from being a tad bit more dirty (she hates baths).
So to Hazel Leia and ALL of the Peace Corps Pets out there in the world, thanks for bringing us comfort and solace during our 2 year journeys.