12-year-old Expat in Uruguay recalls animal rescue experience

Etanne is a 12-year-old expat who moved to Punta del Este, Uruguay with her mother, Karen Michele, in December 2013.

Before coming to Uruguay, they lived between a farm-like home in Georgia and New York City, where Karen had a photo studio.

In Punta del Este, Karen teaches English at Colegio Pinares, where Etanne is a student.

"The people are so warm and genuine and I am delighted with the friends that both my daughter and I have already made," says Karen.

Etanne likes to ride bikes, garden, camp, write.... and rescue dogs.

In fact, Etanne and her mother have rescued more than 200 that would have been put down without their intervention.

Following is an animal rescue story Etanne wrote when she was 10.

 The Light Pink House at the End of the Cul-de-sac

by Etanne Michele

Where the light pink house at the end of the cul-de-sac stands, my family and me live. This is the place where any dog is welcome with warmth, hope, love,  happiness, and joy.

My mom and I foster dogs. We say we will take a break for a little while but in the end we never really do.  We have fostered so many we can’t remember all their names but we always have them in our hearts. They are all too precious to be forgotten.

Most of the puppies that come to us are from kill shelters or in the woods and neglected. Puppies can really be in danger, because they can die from dehydration and no food inside of 24 hours. Even though we have had so much experience with them, we have had some challenging moments and some of our puppies nearly died.   We always fight to the end.

The winter break from school was coming up and Mom and I had so many plans. We wanted to go to a Thai supermarket and make basil rolls, go to the movies, do a drawing kit, go to the museum, and build a deer shelter.  A week before the break, we saw a picture of a dog who had newborn puppies.  They were all about to be killed at the shelter.  We began to think we wouldn’t take her, but like always, we couldn’t resist ourselves.

My mom, my friend and I went out to the Chatsworth animal shelter to get her and her puppies. When we saw them, they were little angels. We named the mother Gabrielle. We brought them home, and made a whelping bed in a nice warm room for them to sleep in.

We have a lot of work to do with nine new born puppies! We have to change and wash their bedding every few hours since they aren’t house broken yet. The puppies are adorable and cute but you can’t forget all the work that has to be done. The puppies are worth it all.

Shortly after we got the puppies, my mom called me downstairs to look at her computer.  When I got downstairs there was this scruffy little dog on the screen.  The person at the shelter said that she was expecting puppies and that she shakes and has health problems. They were going to put her to sleep.

She was so cute! We looked at each other and thought “This is crazy!” but I said, “We are so taking her!” Having nine puppies and their mother already and getting another dog who is expecting babies was a large load but we took it anyway.

The next day the lady brought the dog over. We named her Becca. We took her to the vet because she was shaking. The vet said she had very little calcium for a long time and that was the reason why she was shaking so badly. Mom was afraid that she might have trouble pushing out the puppy, which is dangerous.

When she was getting closer to labor my mom began to sleep on the floor with Becca to make sure that she could help her with her baby if it came in the night.

One night Becca began to show signs of labor and we prepared. It took awhile for her to really begin to have her baby. We couldn’t wait to see it !

Becca pushed and pushed and pushed, but every time she pushed the baby slid back up. It only had a matter of time before it died from suffocating. We began to get real panicky. When we saw its feet we knew that it was breach.

We couldn’t just pull it out or else its head would get pulled off its body and then it would definitely die.  Becca was shrieking in pain and she began to try to pull the puppy out from its hind leg. We tried to use lubricant jelly to help it slide out but we couldn’t get a good hold on it without squishing it.

My mom began to cry because we could barely help it at all. We tried and tried but it just wouldn’t come out! Finally the puppy came out! We were so happy until we realized it wasn’t moving or breathing.

Our joy turned into a sickening sadness that overcame us. My mom tried to do the CPR  but the baby was gone. It was a little boy and he was absolutely beautiful.

We named him Cupid. We began to wonder how are we going to heal Becca’s heart as well as our own as we watched Becca digging through the whelping box crying desperately to find her baby.

The next day we were out getting a tree for Cupid to bury him and we were gone longer than we thought we would be. When we came back Juliette, the runt puppy from Gabrielle’s litter, was lying still in a corner all alone. When I saw her a shock of fear flashed through me. We saw some mucus covering her throat and my mom sucked it out using an aspirator, but she didn’t respond. My mom and I both began to cry .

The tiny flame of hope that still flickered in my chest was washed away with the water of fear when she was no longer breathing.

We thought we’d lost her. My mom tried the CPR and she blinked! A warm hug of joy came over us.

We didn’t know what to do with Juliette or where we would put her. We couldn’t put her with the other healthy puppies because she could get them sick, and we couldn’t take Gabrielle from the other puppies or they will get sick. We didn’t know what to do.

We then thought why don’t we give Juliette to Becca but we didn’t know if Becca would take Juliette or reject her.

When we introduced Becca to Juliette, Becca seemed interested in her. Becca licked her and licked her and snuggled on her trying to keep her warm. The baby wasn’t well enough to nurse yet but my mom gave her fluids through a syringe and Becca kept the baby warm. It took her 24 hours to begin to nurse again. We were ecstatic.

Juliette kept getting better and better. Soon she was well again.

So Becca got her baby and Juliette got all healthy again. We’ve decided to do the things we wanted to do over the winter break during the next school break instead.  Unless of course, another homeless dog finds it way down to the light pink house at the end of the cul-de-sac.      

Sometimes we are faced with: "In 1 hour, this mother and her newborn litter will be put to sleep unless you can get them." We have gotten every one of over 200 spayed, neutered and adopted.

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