A Mabel Fable

Once upon a time there was a crazy couple who got way too emotionally involved with a street dog.  They walked to the street corner where she lived twice a day to feed her, gave her medicine and (the kiss of death) gave her a name.  All was well and everyone was enjoying the relationship until one evening as the crazy couple were feeding the sweet little street dog, a car sped around the corner and hit the dog. The crazy couple couldn’t just leave her there with a wounded leg, so they put her in a bag and scootered her to their house to recuperate.  Whoops!  Now they had two dogs and this was not something that the couple (or their crabby older dog) ever wanted or planned for so the lady of the couple spent a few weeks having a nervous breakdown about the situation.  Eventually a solution was found that suited everyone so they all lived happily ever after.  The end.

The moral of this story is: Don’t get emotionally involved with random street puppies unless you really like getting a “wellness check” phone call from your boss inquiring after your emotional state.

So, when I last wrote a post I introduced you to Mabel, the adorable little puppy that we had been feeding down the street from us.  As you know we had already had a scare when she got ill and we had a vet come so a house call on the street corner to give her some meds.  She bounced back after that and all was well until the evening of May 4th.  We were doing our nightly visit with her and right before our eyes a car sped around the corner and sort of side-swiped her.  We couldn’t see properly what exactly happened, but we heard her yelp and she jumped in the ditch to hide.  I removed some cement coverings to get to her and pulled her out to have a look.  She had a lot of scrapes but it was also obvious that at least one of her legs was hurt.  Gavin and I looked at each other and did not know what to do because no way did we want another dog, but we couldn’t just leave her there so obviously injured.  So Gav ran home to get his scooter and we shoved poor little Mabel in a bag and took her to our house.

We called the same vet who had come to help her when she was sick before and luckily she was out and about so came quite quickly to have a look.  The vet couldn’t really tell if anything was broken or not so she gave her some pain meds and some antibiotics and told us where we could go to get an x-ray the next day.  She also said that if Mabel bounced back quickly (within 5 days) we could go ahead and return her to her mom and most likely all would be well.  This began the first of many, many freak outs I had about the possibility of having two dogs as we could kind of tell there was no way she was going to be better enough after 5 days to go back on the street.  She lived in a ditch so needed to be able to use her back legs well enough to get in and out.

2020-05-04 18.45.31
Her first night at home with us.  On the couch of course.

The next day we took her to the x-ray facility which was pretty amusing.  When we have had to get x-rays for Nell in London it is quite an ordeal, involving putting her under general anesthesia, overnight stays and hefty bills.  Not here!  The technician just put one of those blocking aprons that you get at the dentist on to Gav and told him to hold the dog still.  Easy!  Also, cheap!  The whole thing with them sending us home with the film printed out and emailing it all to the vet cost us $15.  We are pretty sure we never got away with x-rays for Nell under about $800.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that there was something wrong with the ball of Mabel’s femur and how it was placed into the hip.

The vet said we should watch and wait a bit to see how she was getting on, but after a few days when the muscle swelling went down it was clear that her walking was not getting better, in fact it was getting worse.  So she would need surgery.  All this time we were keeping Mabel in a cardboard box because we were not supposed to let her move around too much.  She was actually fine with it, being a very good dog who did not pee in there or make too much noise, even overnight.  Nell was OK with the whole situation as well as it was very easy for her to pretend that Mabel was not actually there.  When we did let Mabel out for a pee, all she wanted to do was be with Nell.  She just would make a bee-line for Nell and lick and nibble on her face which Nell really obviously did not like at all.

When it was decided that she would need some surgery there was a bit of a panic as most vets were not doing surgery due to the shutdown over Covid.  We did find one guy who was still open so we took Mabel for a consult and he said right there that he would do the surgery that night.  He explained to us that the surgery would involve removing the femur head because if they tried to just put it back in the hip sockets it would just keep popping back out again.  I thought “this has to be some kind of Burmese-English translation issue-there is no way that is what he is going to do.”  Gav almost barfed in the consult room and had to go sit outside drenched in panic sweat. The vet assured me that this is a very common operation as a lot of dogs get hit by cars in Yangon and as long as Mabel didn’t get fat she would walk pain free for the rest of her life.  Again, I thought “fine, something is not translating quite correctly but she will be ok.”

When we picked her up the next morning she was bright and chipper!  The vet came and showed us the ball of the femur that he removed (ewww) proving that actually, he did do exactly what he said he was going to.  He showed us that it was completely cracked and actually worse than we had originally thought.  Then he asked did we want to keep it?  No thanks!  Total cost of the surgery and the overnight stay and all the follow up medicines and appointments?  About $115.  And it was clear as soon as we got home and set her down in the grass that she was using the leg better already, so that was a relief.

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On her way home from her surgery.

So now our panic about her injury started to subside and instead, panic about her future took over.  For a while we thought that we could slowly introduce Mabel and Nell to each other and hope that they would eventually get along.  We got a crate for Mabel so they could see and smell each other but Mabel couldn’t harass Nell.  Nell just wanted nothing to do with her at all and also started acting strangely with us.  For years she has not tried to get on the bed with us at night-she knows that she sleeps in her crate near our bed and she gets too hot if she sleeps with us.  But all of a sudden Nell would jump on the bed as soon as we got ready to sleep and want to sleep with us all night.  She would also just take herself outside for hours while I worked with Mabel’s crate next to me.  She snapped at Mabel for sniffing around one of her beds.  We probably could have continued on with trying to slowly introduce them but it all seemed very overwhelming and we couldn’t imagine a future where they both actually enjoyed each other’s company.

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This was about as good as it got.
2020-05-23 21.40.35
Don’t worry, Mabel got some quality out of the crate time as well!








So now, with Mabel on the mend, we needed Gav to put his marketing skills to good use to find her a new home without a grumpy old lady dog around to cramp her style.  He took a load of photos and a few videos of her playing and we posted them on our school’s teacher Facebook group, hoping to entice someone.  The problem is that we have a teacher at school who runs a dog sanctuary.  It has 600 dogs.  She has already given dogs to everyone at school who might have been tempted.  No interest.

With each passing day my level of general panic was rising.  We were already in a stressful situation with everything going on and being stuck in Yangon.  We had to cancel all of our summer plans which was very depressing.  And now I had two dogs under my roof and soon one of them will need to do more than just rest in a crate most of the day.  There were a lot of tears (all mine, Gav assured me that we would have no problem finding Mabel a home).  One particularly bad day my boss called me after our morning video meeting to find out if I was OK and then I cried on the phone to him.  Poor man, his wife and son are in Thailand and he is stuck here with no route to join them for who knows how long and I am crying about a dog.  He was very nice and said that everything sucks right now, cry away.

Our next step for solving this problem was posting about Mabel on different expat groups on Facebook.  So I did this and got lots and lots of likes and one email telling me that I was being unfair and needed to keep Mabel.  Thanks lady.  The next morning I saw a message in my inbox from a Swedish guy saying that he and his wife were very interested in Mabel but that they lived a 20 hour bus ride away from Yangon.  Not to worry!  He had already contacted a bus company and gotten assurances that they could do the transport.  And a friend could collect Mabel from us and take her to the bus station if we thought they would be a good fit.  We had a video call with them and let them see Mabel frolicking around the garden and they said that they were in love and wanted to take her.

Oh the relief.  Although we were sad about letting Mabel go (she is seriously the sweetest, smartest little dog) we knew that this was the best solution for everyone.  So last Monday their friend came to collect Mabel at around noon and she had an epic bus journey up to the north of Myanmar where she was collected by the nice Swedes who have emailed that they are just head over heels in love with her.  It’s so lovely to hear and although I miss her little puppy antics, I am so happy she found a good home.  Nell is back to normal now as well which is nice to see.  And I can stop having a nervous breakdown every other hour.

Seriously.  The most adorable little thing.

The only worry now is HOW do we stop this from happening again?  There are dogs everywhere!  We cannot take in another dog!  We also cannot leave a dog we see injured on the street.  Gav thinks we need to invent some blinders to wear when we walk along so that we can’t see any cute little puppies and get tempted….

3 thoughts on “A Mabel Fable

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  1. Wow! What a story! I am SO GLAD that Mabel found a home and that you took such good care of her. She is an incredibly lucky dog (which she is clearly thinking in that photo of her lying on the couch). I can totally envision Nell’s attitude toward her. I think Olga would be the same way.

    What jumps out at me most in this post is that your colleague’s dog sanctuary had SIX HUNDRED DOGS. I cannot even begin to imagine such a thing.


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