Saturday, February 05, 2011

Aruba – December 27 2010 – Feb 5 – 2011


What can we say about Aruba…??  It is a beautiful place with beautiful people…and we’re not just talking aesthetics…we’re talking HEART!.

Our relationship with this Small Dutch Island has been greatly influenced by
our direct relationship with a few people who have been so kind and helpful during a time of challenge for us as we have been unexpectedly dealing with the health issues of our beloved puppy and boat dog companion ‘Doc’.

Doc cut his back foot on our last day in Bonaire.  We’re not sure how, we just know that on our last day there returning from our visit to the beach Doc was bleeding badly.  We cleaned the cut, bandaged it and sailed away to Curacao.  Arriving in Curacao we determined that his cut needed stitches and so we contacted a Vet who took care of Doc’s foot with 11 stitches and some heavy duty anti-biotics.  Over the next few days as we cared for his foot we noticed his appetite was waning.  We thought the two issues were related and felt that given time his appetite would return.  We spent a lovely Christmas in Curacao and two days later sailed for Aruba.

We looked forward to Aruba in part to meet up with our friends John and Cathy Lindstrom from Toronto who were arriving by Cruise ship on Jan 6.  We had a lovely visit with them and their buddy Arnie, albeit short. 

The next day we had planned on departing for Cartagena but were concerned that Doc’s appetite had still not returned.  We decided to find a local Vet to determine what, if anything was the problem.

Unfortunately, that visit was not a good one.  The Vet told us that Doc appeared to be suffering from the effects of Tick Fever.  This despite the fact that Doc has been taking Frontline medicine his entire life for precisely this concern.  It seems that Tick Fever has been quite rampant here in the ABC islands for the past few years. As explained to us, it only takes one bite and could have been anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years ago. 

Also, Doc had a large ‘mass’ in his tummy, either independent tumor or enlarged spleen.  As well his lymph glands were quite swollen.  This was very disturbing news and we booked an appointment for the following Monday for Ultra sound to get a better look at what was happening inside Doc’s body.

This was the first day we met a wonderful lady from Boston currently living here in Aruba.  Her name is Kathy Andreottola who has as big a heart for the suffering of animals as anyone we have ever known.  She originates from New England where she worked in the Telecommunications industry doing similar work to that which Kaija had for 30 years.  Upon arriving here in Aruba 7 years ago she created a for non-profit organization to assist and help homeless animals in need of medical care with the hopes of nurturing them back to health and finding them good homes in which to live.  The name of her organization is the ANIMAL RELIEF FOUNDATION OF ARUBA. 

Kathy could see the concern on our faces as we came back into the waiting room after Doc’s diagnosis.  She immediately took us into her heart and provided information and comfort to us in dealing with our concerns.   She has a wonderful dog named Princess who was diagnosed with similar symptoms in the spring of 2010.   She immediately offered to provide transport to us to and from the Vet’s office.  This out of the kindness of her heart.  We returned to the Vet’s a couple of days later for an Ultra sound which confirmed the original diagnosis and our worst fears.  Kathy took us to her home to ‘relax’ and help us understand the process that we were facing based on her experience over the past months in dealing with her Princess.  Altho Princess had been given only a couple of months to live, after her diagnosis, she was still wagging her tail and providing joy and comfort to Kathy.  We met Princess on that day…a wonderful dog with a sweet, sweet spirit.  As the week progressed for us, Doc continued losing weight, about 20 pounds over the past three weeks.  We were doing our best to deal with Doc’s problem of Anemia before Dr. Desiree could operate as she had real concerns with his blood condition.  Splenectomy surgery was scheduled for Friday Jan 14 (my birthday).  Dr. Desiree was also concerned that the condition that was affecting the spleen was also affecting the Liver which would have been very bad news.  During the surgery, it was determined that the Liver had not been seriously affected and so the spleen was removed and a sample taken to be sent to the only hospital in Aruba for a biopsy. 

January 17, 2011

Doc has been recuperating, albeit slowly, and is now eating, and is able to walk about for a short time.  Kathy (who manages some neighboring properties arranged for us to have the use of a small cottage/cabana to hospice Doc.  It made life so much easier for all of us, especially Doc as he did not have to make it on and off the boat with his tummy sore and full of stitches. We continue to pray that his recovery will be complete but are awaiting the results of the spleen biopsy which we will have in the next day or so.

On a further note, Kathy’s beloved Princess was scheduled for surgery and we suspect she decided in her own heart that she had enough poking and prodding and last evening passed over the ‘Rainbow Bridge’ where there is no more pain or suffering for her any longer. Our heart goes out to Kathy in her hour of great loss.  Kathy and her friend Maureen took Princess to ‘Baby Beach’ which is a wonderful area set aside here on the Island as a Pet Cemetery.  It is truly an amazing site to see this large area filled with the testimony of so much Love for those animals that bring so much happiness and joy to our lives.

As of January 21

We received Doc’s biopsy results.  They showed that he has Malignant Lymphoma.  We are searching for a treatment regimen as unfortunately most pet owners faced with this diagnosis opt for euthanasia and Dr Desiree has little experience in dealing with the ongoing care needed.  She is making great efforts to contact other Vet’s here and abroad to assist us in finding an appropriate ongoing care.  We cannot say enough about the good things about Dr. Desiree and the Veterinary Clinic at Wayaca.  Faced with the daily trauma of dealing with sick animals and caring owners, they maintain a warm friendly atmosphere and demonstrate loving care on a very personal level.  We are grateful that we met Dr. Desiree.

A few more words about Kathy and the ANIMAL RELIEF FOUNDATION of ARUBA.  It is a not-for-profit corporation founded and operated by concerned tourists.  They raise funds and provide care for the homeless, hungry, neglected dogs and cats of Aruba.  Care includes veterinary services, spay/neuter, food, shelter and placement of homeless animals in suitable home. 

We have been impressed by Kathy’s huge Heart and love for these lost dogs and cats, strays that either she finds in the garbage, or abandoned, or brought to her by people who find them.  We fully intend to support her and ask that anyone who reads this and can find it in their hearts to help her in her challenge and quest to help these defenseless animals do so.  Your donation will make a huge difference in their lives.  Go to  today and make a donation.

Kathy carries on and currently has two small puppies  (Gabe and Fenway) that are recouping from Parvo (one of the worst of Canine diseases), During one of visits to the Vets we met a young couple, Jamie and Lisa from Ohio, in Aruba for vacation, who were looking for a puppy to take home with them.  They filled out the proper forms and Kathy will ship them the puppies, Gabe and Fenway to them once she is certain they are strong and healthy. 

February 5, 2011

To date he has had two chemo treatments and responded amazingly well to both.  He is on daily doses of Prednisone and vitamins and has us totally trained to feed him fresh cooked chicken and ham by hand while he works at putting back some weight.  His energy levels are returning along with his appetite and we are so thankful to still have him with us.

Gabe and Fenway are now in Ohio and doing very well, Cathy has 5 new puppies that she is getting healthy and looking for loving homes.

We are departing Aruba today making our way to Cartagena where Doc will have his next Chemo. 

We are so grateful to all of those who expressed concern and prayed with us during this very stressful time.  That’s what friends are for!

One final note on Aruba. We found the folks at SEAruba Fly’n Dive (Wanda & Wade Wurm and Crew) to be most helpful to ourselves and other cruiser in allowing us to use their dinghy dock.  They are located near the airport side of the anchorage and happy to take you diving.  You can find them on the net at   Thank you Wanda and Wade for your kindness.

 Goodbye Aruba for now and thanks for all the good folks and Angels here.

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