Thursday, February 12, 2009

A new little friend?

I was having a walk with Carlos last week, the first week in February. Poor Geri is still on very limited walking due to her injury. We had just got to the top of the steep hill, I paused gasping for breathe, as I always do, mentally preparing myself for the far more pleasant walk back down the hill, when this beautiful dog came walking cautiously towards us. In a head down submissive positio. Yes I have been watching 'The dog whisperer'. Her and Carlos had a little sniff around each other, and as we started to walk home, she followed us. I didn’t worry too much as I felt sure she was with an olive farmer, or with a group of olive pickers.  She was so beautiful she was surely a family pet. She wore a black velvet collar, and was in excellent condition. With stunning light brown eyes and an almost white thick coat.

The dog followed us back to the house, and Carlos and I went in. We left our new little friend dog outside, we felt sure she would wander back to her owners, wherever they were. Two hours later she was still there. I took the car up to the nearest house to where she was and found Raphael the olive farmer. He has many dogs, but she was not one of his. He said to ask Miquel …. no not his! Miquel asked someone else driving up the track, who told us she belongs to Diego. Problem is we don't know Diego!

One week later she is still with us. We have put signs up on the gate looking for her owner. She is an absolute delight and loves to play with all of our other dogs, and doesn’t even chase the feral cats. She is a dream to take for a walk on a lead, and loves to jump up and put her head on your chest.

Who on earth would not come looking for this stunning dog?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

FEBRUARY - The tragedies of B.V.D.

I now feel it is acceptable for me to me to discuss the tragedies that the alpaca breeders faced in Andalucia. Ginny Cobb has written an extremely long and informative article that has been printed in the Alpaca World magazine, therefore I feel that I can now discuss it.

Not everyone will want to read this, but I would like to share my thoughts with those of you that do.

Alan and I as most of you know are alpaca novices, we do not pretend to know very much about these gorgeous, inquisitive animals, but we are learning all the time. The nightmare for us began in June last year, when our beautiful Black Dancer first became ill. She self aborted her cria, and sadly died, all in the space of two weeks. We were of course devastated and questioned our abilities to look after these beautiful animals. Over the last few months we have been told that when our animals, plus animals for Nigel and Ginny Cobb were brought over from England, an animal in the herd was probably carrying the disease B.V.D. This is no ones fault as in England alpacas do not need to be blood tested for this, they are however tested for other diseases.

In the last seven months Nigel and Ginny, David and Di, and Alan and myself have all lost animals. Between us there were five top quality breeding females, ten babies, five late abortions, plus the heartbreaking decisions we had to make to induce eight abortions. Our dear friends Mike and Linda, had thankfully healthy animals, but they suffered so much stress as they saw what we were all going through, and fought to keep their animals and healthy as they possibly could.

B.V.D. stands for bovine viral diarrhoea. If an animal is suffering from B.V.D. it is susceptible to all other illnesses. During the dreadful months of the summer in 2008, blood tests were done on all the animals, and we were informed of which had shown positive for the antibodies. If this was a pregnant female, we then had to make the agonising decision as to terminate the pregnancy or not. I can only describe the affect on the unborn cria as being similar to a pregnant woman contracting rubella. If the unborn cria was infected it would become P.I. (persistently infectious). It would probably only live for a matter of weeks or months, but infect any other animal, in the herd, that had not got the positive antibodies. It was a fairly easy decision for Alan and I, and we chose to abort the unborn cria. We could not go through seeing an animal give birth, and then probably have to have the cria put to sleep, after blood tests a few weeks later.

We really thought the new year was the end of our problems in Spain when tragedy struck again. Nigel and Ginny’s favourite alpaca Ella became ill, and died. Ella was the type of animal that would entice anyone to breed alpacas. She had been hand reared and followed you about, willing to be stroked and cuddled. Not only was she the friendliest alpaca I have known, but she was also the Spanish champion, winning the title of Supreme Champion of Spain, an all round stunning beautiful alpaca.

This was only two weeks ago, and her necropsy showed that she had died from pneumonia due to B.V.D. This has taken it’s toll so badly on us all, our friends and alpaca breeders here in Andalucia. We have all shared in others others grief and I do hope that Nigel and Ginny find the strength, from somewhere to go on. During our difficult times they have always been there for Alan and I, either on the end of the phone, or Nigel driving up to us at top speed, to support us. Such wonderful friends!

Now the plans are being made for the return of our alpacas. No doubt our vet will be called out on many unnecessary visits, but I am sure he will understand. I have decided to include about the B.V.D in my blog to now, to try and help us move forward from here. I hope and pray all our alpaca owner friends have a wonderful year, from now on.

Our beautiful Black Dancer
Our gorgeous little Basil

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mark & Callie's visit

When Mark came over I had a wonderful time, it was a post Christmas visit. We had such a great time swapping Christmas presents etc. We had also arranged that Mark would do some work with Nigel, whilst he was here, and his gf was happy to get stuck in too. Mark was working mainly in the casita, doing carpentry work, he also did some rendering in the bottom apartment and also some work on the land.  In actual fact in the nine days Mark and his gf were with us they only had one day off, when we went swimming pool hunting again. The weather here unfortunately was dreadful. Poor things, they had only one and a half decent days, good job they were working their little socks off.  Good job, or it would have been very boring for them.

I love this photo of Mark and Blue

Arthur decided he would have a cuddle

We had a lovely trip down to Ronda to see our good friends Nigel and Ginny, and spend some time with the alpacas. It was rather a flying visit, but we spent a lovely couple of hours with them. Sadly Bermuda did not 'spit off' which meant she was not pregnant, therefore they mated her with Capone, one of their studs whilst we were there also.

Mark and his gf in Ronda
With the babies
I feel a Barry White track coming on...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Our poor little Geri

We were all very excited to see Mark and his gf, they had not been over here since my birthday in October, and that was only for three days. I guess Geri was even more excited than we realised, and when she saw Mark, she just ran around the little courtyard like a mad thing. She ran up and down stairs to the top apartment in pure excitement,where we are living at the moment, when suddenly she cried out in pain. Her back left leg just hung lifeless, and I just knew she had really hurt herself. We decided to leave her to rest until the morning and she how she was, however the following morning she was still the same. She was fine in herself, but hopped everywhere, it was quicker that way!

We took her to Andres our lovely vet, and as soon as he saw her move he had a anxious look on his face. He explained he thought she had completely torn her cruciate ligament. He suggested we take her to an orthopaedic vet in Cordoba where they would x ray her, and discuss an operation. I was so shocked I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, and Geri and I wandered about not looking at Andres, although he knows I’m a big softy by now. He arranged for us to go two days later. We found the vets surgery and were immediately greeted by a lovely man, who spoke no English, and as we always say, why should he? Between us we got by, and he thought my demonstration of Geri running up the stairs then crying in pain was 'perfecto!' Eventually out came a young lady who spoke a bit of English, so we were relieved. He agreed with Andres's diagnoses regarding Geri, and told me to feel her knee whist he moved the bones……….. argh! Well like us, Geri has put on a little weight, so with her being ten years old, he would like to give her some time, to see if she could possibly adjust to life with the way it is. We have to go back in the beginning of February for another consultation. If he feels she has improved, he will then give it another three months, otherwise it will be an operation. He feels though, that it maybe better for her to heal, and recover sufficiently on her own, as she is not an extremely active dog, and of course her age.

Well it is nearly time to go back for her next consultation and we feel quite positive. Geri has certainly improved and is trying to put some weight on it. If she wants to get somewhere fast e.g. to the food she hops at top speed, bless her!

I know we should not compare, but the vets seem rather different here. For a start we are paying only a fraction of the cost back we would pay in England, but their sympathetic attitude towards the animals is second to none. Every nurse that walked passed Geri stroked her and spoke to her, and the vets take time to bend down and talk to the animals before and after they examine them, (who knows maybe Geri understands Spanish). I am not saying the vets skills are better, but I do feel they have a more caring way with the animals. Maybe we have just been very lucky!


Geri with her new best friend Carlos