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Luna, a BCI airport dog

It’s been a bit since I’ve taken you back to our tiny island down in Nicaragua, so I feel like we are due for a visit to Big Corn Island. I miss this tiny island and the wonderful people and animals there. We’ve helped them from afar since our last trip in January of last year (just before COVID went crazy), and have been keeping an eye on our friends there. Luckily, Dr Pedro who has helped us the past few years is still there and has been providing some vet care to help all the animals there on a more regular basis, which is amazing and one more step towards them not needing us anymore.

The very first year that we went down there, one of the memories that always makes me smile is the airport dog, Luna. At the end of our trip, we had some supplies left and had them all packed up to travel back over to the mainland to be donated. This included some left-over vaccines, syringes, needles, and other medications. The airport on Big Corn Island is teeny tiny. There’s one little counter to check in, and then you get an awesome little laminated ‘ticket’ to go through security (which consists of a walk-through scanner, and a small belt scanner for your carry-on items). Once you are through security, then the airport proper consists of a tiny snack stand, and an open room with some plastic chairs….and that is it. This gate waiting area has a set of double doors that leads directly out onto the tarmac, where you walk out to board the plane. Beside the waiting room there is the room where they scan all of our luggage once it has passed through its security clearance, and then it is stacked up to await the plane’s arrival, and being boarded with us onto our little plane back to the mainland. Obviously, this room is not air-conditioned, and it being a tropical jungle and all, you can imagine it is hot, sweaty, somewhat stinky, and filled with a sense of remorse as everyone there is leaving a tropical paradise. I’ve spent more hours in that too hot, cramped room than I would ever desire to spend, and have seen some pretty interesting things.

But back in 2016, I’m quite sure that I was the interesting sight to be seen. As we waited for our plane that day we were all hot, tired, and ready to go home. Cynthia noticed the police officer and his adorable police dog waiting outside the door to the tarmac, and doing their job of surveying the area. The police dog was this adorable yellow lab, who was such a good girl for her handler. Cynthia, being the ‘honey badger’ and all, sauntered outside to strike up a conversation. After about 10 minutes, she started yelling to me across the room, ‘Dr Beth – come over here and meet this fine gentleman and his adorable dog, Luna! And bring your stethoscope!’ Curious as to what this could possibly be about, I grabbed my scope and went out to see them. As it turns out, he had missed our clinic because he was working, and his cutie was not able to get vaccines. So of course, Cynthia had offered up for me to take a look at her. As the entire plane stared at what was transpiring, I sat down on the tarmac and did an examine on Luna as she rolled around on the ground waiting for me to pet her. We talked about all sorts of things, like her diet (which was a lot of fresh fish), and flea/tick preventatives (which she had none, but he promised to buy!), and vaccines. She had not received any vaccines in several years, and he agreed that she should get some. The only problem was our bags were already through security and customs. The police officer just laughed and asked, ‘Which one is your bag?’ I pointed to our giant stack of totes with supplies, and he said, ‘Go ahead and get what you need!’ And then yelled to the other officers and guards that it was ok for me to go back there, I was a doctor. (Let me just say here, that this whole process did not make me feel extremely safe per se, but I suppose it’s good enough, lol). I climbed around all the bags, and rifled in our luggage until I found the syringes and needles, and then the vaccines. Then standing there in the middle of hundreds of bags, while all the travelers stared at me in confusion, I drew up the distemper vaccine and then went back over and gave it to miss Luna. He was so incredibly appreciative, and has remembered us every year since then, and always greets us warmly when we arrive! He has also made a point to come to the clinic each year for vaccines, and he even let us spay her the next year!! Such a fun way to end that first trip – one last little life protected with a vaccine. Until next time BCI – we hope to see you in 2022!

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