The Story of Ti-gba
Ti-gba is short for "P'tit Legba".
(Little Legba). Legba is a Haitian loa (god) who represents the master
of the crossroads and is the god who can create a bridge between the human
and spiritual worlds. Legba is typically represented by an old man with
a broken foot and a crutch.
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[click on photos to enlarge]
These are the most recent photos of Ti-gba, taken in February
and early March, 2004. Ti-gba has grown incredibly. She is very
healthy and happy, but driving everyone crazy with her puppy antics.
She has chewed through shoes, eyeglasses, hairbrushes, and everything
else she can find. She terrorizes the rabbits, the cat, and the
ducks, and buzzes the sheep which really annoys them!
We've started Puppy Kindergarten, which is helping quite a lot.
day before I was due to leave Haiti, I saw Ti-gba lying in the middle
of the road in Pétionville. Her little head was up and her eyes
were alert, but the bottom half of her body was filthy with dust and grease
and looked contorted. I asked the person who was driving me to stop, which
she did reluctantly, and thus began the Haitian rescue.
I picked up the puppy she was like a skeleton. She cried and grunted in
pain. I set her on the sidewalk, and she collapsed -- she could not support
her weight at all. I knew that leaving her would mean slow starvation.
Or perhaps someone would kick her out of her misery. No one wanted to
help this dog. The driver of the vehicle urged me to leave her behind
- she said there is too much misery in Haiti, and one simply cannot fix
it all. The vendors on the street gathered around us in curiosity, wanting
to know why I was crying about a dog. One woman offered to take money
from me and she would care for the dog - another woman told me "don't
give her any money!" I laid the little puppy down away from traffic
by the side of a building. A man vendor was packing up for the day and
saw that the puppy was lying on a bit of plastic that belonged to him.
He whipped it out from under her, angrily, and hit her with it. It felt
like a nightmare. In the United States it is second nature for me to pick
up an injured animal and find help. This is a concept beyond bizarre in
We drove away and I didn't know how I was going to live with myself.
We stopped to look at paintings, and I walked about like a zombie, trying
not to let the curious vendors see my sobs. However, the driver must have
had a change of heart, because as I walked about disconsolately, I saw
her on her cell phone ... she found that there was a vet open until 6
pm (it was nearly 4:30 pm, after closing for most Haitian businesses).
We bought a little basket for 50 gourdes, and rushed back to where we
had left the puppy. The vendors were fascinated at this turn of events,
and I was full of hope.
are, in fact, a few veterinarians in Haiti. I cannot say I was pleased
with the vet I saw - he was rough with this little 5 pound puppy and did
not even treat her for the massive quantities of worms she had. But he
gave me the essential paperwork: a veterinary certificate of health, which
would allow me to board her on the airplane and pass through customs in
the United States. He charged me 700 gourdes, about $17.
I returned to my friend Jan's office carrying the tiny puppy in the basket.
He did not seem surprised (I feel sure that he played the part of angel
in this story, urging his coworker - my driver - to find a vet). He then
immediately went out and bought some meat for the little dog, who was
so happy at this clean good food. I administered some of the Vitamin B
I had requested from the vet, and she lapped that up, too. But... how
was I going to get her on the plane tomorrow? We had virtually no phone
access and for sure the airline offices were closed for the day. I knew
exactly what to do! With the satellite internet service they had in the
office, I emailed the metropets mailing list and asked for help - and
was amazed that within 30 minutes someone had made a reservation for me.
It would cost me $80 and I was going to be able to bring the puppy on
board with me.
Elle ne comprend pas la tendresse, mais elle l'accepte.
I was so worried because I had no pet carrier. My friend Jan tried to
help me fashion a carrier out of a plastic bag padded with towels; we
perched her basket on top of it. Since she was so exhausted and slept
all the time, I thought perhaps it would work. The American Airlines checkin
agent was adamant: NO. I had to have a carrier. I pleaded with her, "where
can I find a carrier in Port-au-Prince?" She shrugged her shoulders.
There were none for sale at American Airlines - and the other airlines
I asked looked at me in disgust - why would I bring a dog on board? Eventually
the checkin agent told me that if I were willing to postpone my trip,
she could have her husband bring me a carrier from her house. I simply
didn't believe this - she must have been trying to get rid of me! I called
Jan who is Dutch but infinitely wise about the Haitians, and he told me
- "if she wants to help you, then let her help you." So simple.
And it worked. The nylon carryon bag arrived at 2 pm as she promised.
I boarded the plane, and was in the end, only 4 hours late arriving home.
Everyone wants to know how in the world I got through customs -- this
was the easiest part of the trip. I had sprayed the carrier with perfume
so that her rather bad odor would not be evident. I had in hand the veterinary
certificate of health (and I prayed that the agricultural officer would
not look too closely at this emaciated, sick puppy who was crawling with
fleas), made the proper declaration on my customs form.... and after a
short interview, we were in the US of A!
Ti-gba and I went to the vet first thing the next morning. They did bloodwork
and X-rays, and found that she had 2 broken femurs (one quite bad - it had
actually ruptured through the thigh wall) and a broken pelvis. Worms of
all kinds, fleas, and a low red blood cell count and very low protein. She
weighed 5.1 pounds. They gave me two kinds of worming meds to give her daily,
nutrical to give her more protein, and they put on Advantage for the fleas
and splinted the really badly broken leg.
Elle ne pouvait attendre que la faim, la soif,
et une souffrance intolérable, culminant dans une morte indigne.
She began eating small meals at regular intervals, continuing with her
Vitamin B anti-anemia medicine as well as all the other goodies the American
vet gave us, and sleeping comfortably in her new, clean home. At first
she had to be confined to a crate because of her limited mobility (she
could only drag herself around with her front legs) and in order to keep
her pelvis as quiet as possible for healing. Her fleas and worms were
gone in very short order, and little by little she learned that people
are kind and caring.
Ti-gba is alert and smart, gentle and beautiful. I am so grateful that
I was able to bring her out of the hell that surely awaited her.
note: new photos will be posted on a regular basis
to show Ti-gba's progress!
1-15: Ti-gba is well over 18 pounds and very tall. She is still
lean, like a greyhound, but full of energy. Her right leg is still
very stiff and requires regular massaging but she can outrun the
donkey which is the important thing. She plays with my dog and hogs
all the toys in the house. She no longer rushes to eat all the food
in front of her - she now knows there will be more whenever she
12-16: Ti-gba now weighs 11 pounds and is a holy terror around
the house. She still needs therapy on her right rear leg, because
it is quite stiff but she can get up and down stairs and has started
venturing a little bit outside. She shows a particular preference
for eating shoes and killing socks.
12-1: Dr. George successfully operated on Ti-gba's right leg which
was so very badly broken. He had to shorten it somewhat, but he
was able to place the femur back in the hip socket and did not have
to amputate, as he had feared!
11-27: Ti-gba wagged her tail today for the first time in her life.
11-26: The surgeon determined that Ti-gba's body condition was
still so poor that she would not survive surgery. He sent me home
with A/D diet food and instructed me to feed her well and regularly
so that we could try again on Monday.
11-25: Ti-gba now weighs 6 pounds. Her red blood cell count and
protein levels have risen, and she shows no worm eggs in her stool.
She is recommended for surgery on her right leg which is badly broken.
The orthopedic surgeon indicated that her back, along with her pelvis
and two legs, is broken; however, there appears to be no neurological
[Your donation will be marked "Star Gazing Farm",
as that is where Ti-gba is recovering.]
Many thanks to:
Tails of Hope Sanctuary
Excellent Dog! Training School
Current vet bills are over $2000 for blood tests, worm medicine,
flea medicine, surgery (including metal plates in her leg),
and Physical therapy. Would you like to contribute to help
her pay for these?