Saturday, January 19, 2013

Good news: Rescued dog Jorja Specklestockings is free of dreaded disease

Par-tay! I don't have Leishmaniasis!

When you care about animals you have to deal with a lot of sadness, anger, and frustration, because many if not most of them around the world are wretchedly neglected and/or mistreated, and often there’s little you can do to help them.

On the occasions when you are able to help, you cling to any little piece of good news about them that comes along.

This week we got a much-treasured, huge piece of good news.

Drum roll… trumpet fanfare… hurrah! Our little rescued/foster dog Jorja Specklestockings is Leishmaniasis-free!

Dear readers, for those of you lucky enough to have no clue what Leishmaniasis is, lemme tell ya, the word “disease” ain't bad enough to describe it. This illness is demonic. If you ask me, it might as well be the devil in disguise. 

Agapi, a Greek street dog who suffered horribly with Leishmaniasis until rescue and treatment

Dogs contract it when they are bitten by a sand fly (of a certain species) that has previously bitten another dog who has the disease. From the infected dog’s blood, the sand fly picks up the parasite that causes the disease. Then the insect deposits the parasite in the new dog’s blood. Leishmaniasis can also be transmitted from mother to puppy.

Though some dogs can go asymptomatic for years, showing no sign at all, many dogs become extremely ill.  Symptoms include a whole smorgasbord of ailments ranging from skin lesions to organ failure.

These days I am also fostering Agapi, who suffered from a raging case of Leishmaniasis when friend Melissa Beamish and I first spotted him in the middle of the road in a Greek hillside village one moonlit night—bleeding from his eyes.  I had never seen anything like it. I hope I never do again. But given the prevalence of Leishmaniasis in this country, I probably will.

Agapi has now undergone heavy-duty treatment for Leishmaniasis—a month’s course of a powerful chemotherapy drug, Milteforan. He will also be on another drug, Xylapour, for life. He is doing very well. The gruesome lesions that used to plague his eyes and legs are nearly gone. But the parasite is pernicious, and sometimes manages to “hide” somewhere in the tissues. So it might always lurk in his body—dormant, we hope, but still there.

After taking the course of meds. Agapi is on the mend
Also, due to the fact that he probably endured a lot of cruelty, he is acutely fearful of many things. Thus, it’s a challenge finding a furever family for him. I’m in for the fostering long haul for this boy.

Jorja Specklestockings, though, is another matter. She’s a pretty, perky, clever, and amusing little sprite who gets along great with just about everyone of all species, would be a good fit for almost any adopter, and who—thank you O Gods of Dog Rescue—does not have that horrible disease.

Which is very fortunate, because sadly, Leishmaniasis tends to reduce the appeal of pooches looking for homes. Right or wrong, most prospective adopters would rather opt for a Leish-negative dog.

Jorja is one of the lucky ones. Many dogs here in Kefalonia, especially the homeless ones, fall prey to dreaded Leish. Somehow she dodged it. That opens up all kinds of doors for the future of this abandoned street waif who until just a couple of weeks ago would have had almost no future at all.

Now, with a little more luck, that future is looking pretty bright for this girl—just like her lively amber eyes that glow with intelligence and spirit.

More on Jorja:

Princess (slightly hairy) of Greek castle seeks new throne 

Spay Day for Princess Jorja Specklestockings (Part One) 

More on Agapi: 

More on why "chauffeur" Katerina is in Greece:
How I got stranded in an old, cold, leaky house all winter 

Read Melissa Beamish's excellent blog about her round-the-world trip volunteering in animal shelters, including a month at Kefalonia's ARK.

To donate or to volunteer on behalf of animals in Kefalonia, contact Animal Rescue Kefalonia (ARK) and Kefalonia Animal Trust (KATs).

The Dozen Dog Diaries (DDD) would be delighted if you'd spread the links to these articles. Please just keep in mind that reprint or re-post of more than a paragraph or two of the text or of any of the photos is allowable only by explicit permission from DDD, who may be contacted at youradopteddogATyahooDOTcom. Thanks for visiting!

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