This is not a “spiritual” post, per se, just a feel-good one. I simply wanted to share what I was doing that filled my heart with so much love and joy yesterday.
I volunteered for several hours during the Amigos de Animales monthly spay and neuter clinic in Alto Boquete. This event and subsequent organization was begun several years ago by an expat who was dismayed by all the stray, skinny and unloved animals running the streets of Boquete. The sight of dogs stretched out in the sunshine or crossing streets or hanging out next to cantinas is a common one all over Panama. No one is mean to the dogs, they pretty much ignore them. But spaying and neutering is not the norm here, the culture especially wants their boy dogs to keep their cojones, so the animals keep reproducing. Thanks to this organization, that is changing in Boquete. There are very few strays here anymore compared to other places.
Five to ten vets, Panamanian, Costa Rican, or retired ex-pats, will come to the monthly clinic and volunteer their time, and they usually have an average of 200 animals arrive that day for the procedure. Cost is minimal or nothing if the client can’t afford to donate. Ex-pats will often scoop up their gardener’s or neighbor’s dog or pick up feral cats and bring them in. There are a LOT of animals in containers every where you look and a lot of yipping and meowing going on.
The large crew surrounding the vets are all volunteer as well. They are the “taxis” with the strong arms who carry the animals from station to station and every once in a while you hear, “Taxi!” and someone heads over to a table and picks up an animal who is ready to go. First time I heard that, I thought, um what? where? expecting to see a real taxi somewhere. There are nurses, kitchen staff, and greeters at the door. There are folks sitting at approximately 8 large, round tables stocked with towels, thermometers, and other paraphernalia. These are the people responsible for the after-procedure temperature monitoring and wake-up rubdowns. There’s also a section in a corner where all the big dogs go to be monitored. They have blankets and what they need on the floor and all the volunteers are on the floor with the dogs. Plus there are more folks whose duties are varied and seem to be busy all over the room. It’s controlled chaos.
And all this happens in one very large, open space. Everyone can see what everyone else is doing.
I sat at one of the tables and took care of small animals after their operations. It’s amazing to me that they neuter and spay these animals so very young here, as young as 4 weeks, only the weight really matters. So we get tiny babies to monitor, rub down, and wake up. Once the animals are holding their heads up, their temperatures are normal, and get a syringe of worm medicine, they can go home. It’s a very different scenario from the US. The first kitten I took care of was very thin, and I ended up at the heating pad station with her because her temperature had dropped. If the animals get into trouble and you can’t stabilise their temperatures, then they go back to the nurses and vets. She really didn’t want to wake up, and I spent quite a bit of time with her before her temperature went back up to normal and she was able to leave. I monitored three more after that, a puppy and two kitties. There was a Panamanian couple at our table who had brought in their four cats, all obviously well loved, and were doing what needed to be done for them after their operations.
It’s very satisfying to be helping out this way. The room is full of loving hearts, you can feel the oneness of it all as they care for these animals. Today I am still basking in the lovely, delicious depth of feeling it created in me, a feeling I cannot even find a word for though I have written and erased many words while trying to figure it out. It just feels great. I can’t wait to do it again.