Sunday, April 10, 2011

Puppy Practicalities

27 February 2011

Having grown up in America, I often joke about going down the street to buy such-and-such item at the local Office Depot.  Or maybe go get a drill from HomeDepot.
But here in Tanzania, getting what you need just isn't that simple.  It might mean a long (and I mean LONG) drive into the city center to get something from one of three - or thirty - possible dukas.  Or knowing someone who knows someone who can get them from the UK on an upcoming shipment.  Or something like that.

Another option is asking the local fundis (or "experts" of some sort).  We often joke that if you can't get something here you can always get it made... but it's not far from the truth.  Between inexpensive fundis for welding, carpentry, sewing, and everything else imaginable, you can just about describe anything and get something KIND of like it a long while later :)

Sometimes, as the go-getters that we are, we decide to just do it ourselves.  Like when we went out to get a shelf made, and the guy refused to make it for us.  We finally convinced him to sell a piece of lumber (it was just sitting there in a pile!), and carried it half a kilometer back to our house.  By ourselves.  People along the way stopped and stared at these crazy wazungu girls carrying a board down the road and didn't know what to do with us. Our guard, who was used to our schemes, just laughed when he saw us.  Then he went to borrow a saw to help us get started.

It's always kind of fun to play with people's cultural expectations... in a culturally appropriate way, of course!

But today was slightly different.  Today we’ve been worried about our puppy.  It’s been sick, losing weight, and her hair is coming out in tufts.  The vet came a week ago and gave us some stuff to put on her nose, but she just keeps getting worse.  And worse.  Now we’re pretty much slathering the stuff all over her poor, bare body. :(
Now, just for the record, we really do trust our Tanzanian vet.  He knows what he’s doing.  And I like him a lot.  He’s a Christian, AND he speaks English, which is REALLY nice!  But the puppy came to us in bad shape from the start.  The vet isn’t here today, and we needed a second opinion.  So I turned to my personal favorite vet, named “dad.”

I took a few pictures, sent them off in an email, and got a response back.  Fired back answers, got more questions.  The last email, though, caused a slight problem.  “What’s her weight?”

Hmm.  We don’t have a regular scale at our house.  We used to have a scale from the Chem lab, which weighs things in Newtons, and used it to convert our luggage weight into pounds from that before flying.  (Don’t ask me how much I weigh in Newtons, please!)  But now that we’ve moved, we don’t even have that.

So, it was back to basics.  The only scale we have in the house is a luggage scale, which I brought back at Christmas in an effort to skip the converting to Newtons on my next trip home.  A luggage scale, for a puppy.  Hmm.  We nixed the idea of hanging the puppy from the scale by the collar… but there’s got to be another way, right?

We have a garbage can that doubles as a bucket when our house help is here.  (Ok, it’s really a bucket that we use as a garbage can…)  So, using some basic skills that I learned in seventh grade or so Science… we weighed the bucket, stuck in the puppy, and weighed it again.
 The verdict?  She weighs about twice as much as the “less than three pounds” we predicted.  Which, I guess, is a good sign.  The weight went off, the verdict came back, and now we’re trying to figure out how to cut a pill into ten pieces for the right dosage for our puppy.

I’ll let you know how THAT goes at a later date!


  1. we weigh our daughter, baylor, the exact same way.

    hey crystal, glad i found your blog (by way of kate's)....

  2. haha!! Is that with the collar, or by bucket?

  3. we actually weigh baylor in a cloth sling -- but with a luggage scale and hook.

    no, her dog collar is only for repelling fleas and ticks...