This morning we had quite a slow start because the builders did not come and grab us to start repainting the playground, and instead we had to go and get them. There was in fact not much left to do and Sadiki was mainly finding things for us to do just to kill some time since we did it so quickly yesterday. We repainted the tires and finished off a few of the small metal bits such as the swings and the underneath of the activity frame.
The place looked pretty good after we were done. When we finished up we were taking a few moments to chill when one of the girls came along with one of our washing up bowls. She said; “Guys! I’ve got a puppy! The blind kids were beating it!” In disbelief and a little excitement we of course all immediately stopped what we were doing and went over to her. Sure enough there was a little brown bundle of cuteness staring back at us and crying helplessly.
We all took it out one by one and gently comforted it joking about names and deciding what to do with the poor little thing. Some people wanted to adopt it, and as amazing as that would be, I felt that it should go back to it’s mother for general care and of course milk. Next thing we know, Herbert comes over and says “the puppy will be missing it’s brothers and sisters.” We all replied with “but he’s on his own, where are the others?” Herbert then informed us that there were in fact another five of the little darlings all in the bushes just by where the blind children play. We of course began our journey back there to find the mum and other pups.
On the way, I asked the girl who found the pup what had happened. She told me that whilst painting the playground for the blind children she had heard some commotion and turned round to see this poor puppy being kicked and abused with rocks by the children from the visually impaired school. She shouted at them and told them to go away and then saved the pup. That’s when she came to find us.
I asked Herbert why the children would have done that and he said that in Uganda, dogs are not appreciated the way they are in the Western world. They are not seen as pets here and are considered to be dirty and a hindrance to life. Many people wouldn’t be able to afford to keep a dog and feed it here too anyway.
We entered the leafy area Herbert mentioned and searched for a small while until we came across five other adorable puppies!
All crying and extremely scared they seemed lost in the bushes. Concerned, I enquired about the mother’s whereabouts since if she felt we were a threat to her puppies she may have attacked us and the last thing I wanted was to see a snarling mongrel staring at me.
The girl that found the pup then turned round looking behind me and said “Isn’t that the mother?” We all turned round a little panicked all looking for the dog and sure enough on top of a mound of rubbish and dirt there was the fly-infested carcass of a dog.
The breeds seemed different however and we were unsure as to whether this was their mother or not, it was not until we examined the teats more closely and noticed that they were protruded as if she had been providing milk. An awful sight it was clear that the pups had not eaten in at lead a few days. Alas, our small rescue mission begins.
We picked up the puppies among us where we could and brought them back to our school area. We got our dinner table and attempted to create a make shift pen out of plastic chairs and the table on top. Of course the pups were little wrigglers and they kept trying to get out but we had to keep them inside because of the children. The ones who had abused them saw what we were doing and even began to help, they wanted to be like the muzungus.
Next port of call was to work out what to do. EAP had save a dog before but could not afford to take anymore and then Herbert told us that since people do not like puppies in Uganda there were also no charities that would take them either. For any of us to take them home through quarantine too would cost £15,000 in total for all the dogs. We didn’t know what to do. People began to feel so helpless that they were beginning to wish we never found them because we had nowhere to put them. It was suggested we could put them back and let natural selection take it’s course but most of us as Westerners couldn’t bring ourselves to do that.
After a lot of deliberation we got permission from the school to put them in the chicken room for the night at least so we could figure out what to do. We are leaving tomorrow however and I’m not sure what we can do. Our intern sent one of the girls to go to Jinja town to get some milk for the pups. After a little shopping in Jinja town we returned to hear that the puppies had quite literally drank all of the milk and were now crying as puppies do for attention which we ignored not wanting them to become dependant on us since we were leaving. The kids seem to be learning how to treat them better too.
Over dinner there were some stressed and frustrated debates about what to do and some people were even reduced to tears. I went to bed unsure what else would happened and then something brilliant happened. A girl had tried calling the USPCA which is like the Ugandan RSPCA which was shocking to have found. However, when we called them they seemed disinterested as if they did not want to take the puppies. This girl then told one of the teachers at the school who it turned out used to be a dog handler. He offered to turn one of the playground domes into a home for the pups and he would raise them using the money the girl would send.
It was a lovely end to a stressful day. However, I am not so sure he actually will look after them or if he only offered to put our Western minds at rest, but whatever happens to these pups we know we did all we could and hopefully the man does keep his word and we get updates. Let’s hope.