My second dog trip took me to Kamanjab, northeast of CCF just before you reach Etosha National Park in the north of Namibia. Unfortunately some of our dogs suffer from a tongue cancer, which is probably a combination of genetic susceptibility and the environment (i.e. high sun index), and we were visiting dogs in the region to take tongue biopsies. Mathieu, our French vet intern, came along to perform the surgeries in the field and I acted as vet technician. The hope is that once we know the extent of the cancer in the affected dogs we will be able to treat the condition.
We managed to biopsy three dogs and, although we had a couple of nervous moments, all turned out OK in the end. Once again, each dog was very well looked after by their owners and we had no issues handling the dogs and injecting anaesthetic. This whole process can be more complicated in the field as we don't have access to monitors and oxygen, but we are able to manually check temperature, heart rate and respiration.
The first dog, Hembwa, is starting to lose weight now as her tongue cancer is progressing, but she is such a friendly dog. Her surgery went well and she is clearly very bonded with her flock as, as soon as she came round, she jumped the kraal fence on very wobbly legs and ran back to her 'family'. Our second two surgeries were slightly more nerve-wracking as the first dog wouldn't wake up and the second dog kept holding his breath whilst under anaesthetic! But all ended well and the dogs were left to sleep off the drugs! We shall continue to monitor the progress of their health throughout the year. It is good to see that, despite their illness, they are still acting as amazing livestock guarding dogs protecting their flock from predators such as cheetahs.
Livestock Guarding Dog Project Officer
Cheetah Conservation Fund
Photos copyright (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund 2012