This is the story of Piglet, who I lovingly also call “Ticklet”. Since I’ve been here she has been one of the four (now five) porch dogs who live on the porch of the volunteer house, just across the street from the Thai Animal Sanctuary in Sangkhlaburi. Piglet used to live in the sanctuary, as the rest of the porch dogs did, but once better chose to live outside of the gates of the sanctuary, on the street and porch, free to roam around as they choose.
What makes Piglet more interesting however is how fearful she is of humans. She loves being around us, but won’t let anyone touch her. There have been a few occasions however where she has allowed myself and other volunteers to scratch and pet her, but the events are VERY few and far between as she skitters away after a pat or two. When we are away for a bit we are always greeted by her with a friendly face and tail wagging, and she always approaches us as if she wants a pat, but then retreats when we get too close. She even accompanies us to the market or other destinations we walk to but again always just far enough away from us so we can’t touch her.
Piglet came to the sanctuary as a puppy, the sole survivor of her entire family. The woman who opened the sanctuary here got word of a family of dogs (a mother and several puppies) who were going to be poisoned by their human owners because they didn’t want to care for them… She rushed to the site where they were to find the mother dog killed by a machete, and all the puppies except piglet dead by poison. Piglet herself was attacked by a machete in an attempt to kill her but thankfully was rescued. Knowing her past, it’s no wonder she doesn’t trust people.
When I first came here she was absolutely covered along her back, between her toes and on her chest with ticks (hence why I nicknamed her Ticklet). The nasty and huge blood suckers were so prevalent that you could see them sticking off of her from a distance and every time she sat on the porch and scratched, at least one or two would fall off her. Since no one could touch her, the continuous debate on what to do about her tick situation went on. We tried several times to catch her with a net with no success. I once was able to slightly distract her with treats in one hand, and as she ate I brought my other hand around with Spot-On and was able to get a drop on her before she figured out the scheme and went running away, spilling the rest of the Spot-On in the street.
It was obvious that we had to sedate her fully in order to really get in and pick all the ticks off. We even joked about how, when she was finally under, we would each take turns cuddling her and taking pictures with her since we knew we would never get the chance again, lol! Trouble was, I think she heard us… You see, Ticklet is also tremendously smart. So while we sat on the porch in the evenings discussing various things to do, I’m sure she heard when we came up with the plan to put Diazepam (sleeping pills) in some food to make her drowsy, then stab her with a syringe of Xylazine to put her completely out so we could pick off the ticks.
The day finally came when our plan was to come into action! Several five milligram Diazepam pills were purchased to do the trick and she readily took the bait. The pills (about 4 in the first try) were hidden in a bowl of wet dog food that was consumed at a very fast pace. We sat and waited for her to sleep, but while she did doze a bit, she never fully lost her vigilance. Another bowl was offered with three more pills, but still nothing happened. Yet another bowl was offered as we thought to ourselves how ridiculous and amazing it was that she still wasn’t sleepy enough to approach! After a total of about ten pills, she still didn’t show any signs of drowsiness!! She did however decide to take a walk…
Figuring she was finally feeling drowsy, but being smart enough not to fall asleep in front of us, she was probably trying to move elsewhere so she could actually fall asleep without threat of us stabbing her with a full dose of sleeping aid. So of course we had to follow. She walked down the block and into a large area of pure jungle where she sniffed and walked leisurely to find the right spot. She never did actually lay down however, just sniffed here and there as if she was interested in doing so. Frankly I think she was really just having a laugh at us!
It started to look promising however as she looked a bit drowsy at one point, but the second we went to make a move toward her through the jungle she was off again running in and out of various jungle in the yards of the neighbors down the street. We continued to follow at a distance, determined not to lose her! The whole event ended with her walking (quite alert) right back onto the property of the volunteer house. She never did fall asleep even once during the whole ordeal! Funnily enough however, (and maybe it was just that the temperature at night began to drop) after that day Ticklet turned back into Piglet as the ticks began to fall off her body on their own… Personally I think that the ten milligrams of Diazepam, which seemingly had no effect on Piglet, actually worked to put all the ticks on her body to sleep thereby making them drop off on their own, lol!!
It’s been several weeks since the event at this point, and Piglet is still tick-free (at least as far as we can see from the distance she allows). Such a clever dog she is… I’m sure she heard us talking of taking pictures and cuddling with her while she was out that she simply funneled all the sleeping pills to the ticks instead just so she wouldn’t have to endure such torture of cuddling from us, lol!!