What is a Joey Jango you may ask? Well, “Wally” is a dog that used to live in the Central Park in Antigua until he met some troublesome gringos, namely Heather/Alicia and I. Looking vaguely like a small kangaroo-like animal called a wallaby, he has a charm that won over many of the young foreign travelers and we heard that some even took him home for sleepovers. His life in the park was not as harsh as most street dogs, but he did show some battle scars from defending his turf.
Wally began to recognize us and even showed some signs of being glad to see us. Perhaps it was because I brought him sausages a few times? He even would follow us out of the park, down the street and once parked himself in front of our door for a while before returning to his park. One night when we were in a restaurant, he appeared at the front door and followed Heather in and curled up at our feet for the evening.
As much as we liked/loved this sweet smiling dog, we thought the practical complications of caring for a dog would not be compatible with our work here. Almost everyday we would see him in the park, spend some time together and wish him well. We would often find him sleeping under the benches with gringos or in the garden snoozing. Wally seemed to have a fan club of foreigners.
Two things changed our course with this “park” dog. We were told that from time to time the city poisons the central park dogs to cleanup their prized tourist landmark. We saw this while living in Xela, when suddenly one day there were no dogs, when the day before there were 10. It seemed like a sad and backward band-aid solution to not offering free spay or neuter clinics.
A month ago we were walking downtown and saw Wally in the park, but he was limping, holding up his front paw, not able to walk on it at all. For a street dog, this usually is the beginning of the end, as day-to-day survival takes strength, agility and being ready and able to fight for territory and food. When we looked closely at the paw, there was a deep cut on the pad, probably from glass, which is often lying broken in the streets.
I could not leave him there, knowing it would bring his life to an abrupt end, perhaps within days. I don’t think most street dogs live beyond two or three years old. We immediately took him to a great vet who stitched his paw, de-wormed him, gave him antibiotics and, well, neutered him. After this adventure he may have had some second thoughts about his close relationship with gringos, but he recovered quickly and rebounded to his charming self and stills smiles at us.
As an epilogue, Wally, is doing very well, seems happy with his life, is learning tricks and trying to restrain his rather ferocious survival instinct in relation to other dogs. Corrina, a new friend and associate is going to care for him after we leave. Wally has worked his charming magic on her and leapt into her heart. We are happy for both of them. It is our intention to have dogs as a part of the Children’s Village, so the kids can learn to care for abandoned animals and understand how humans can have a fruitful relationship with the natural world.
Here’s a toast to Compassion,