Street dog Sri Lanka with Demodex Mange

The street dog who learnt to trust again

Sometimes the impact of our work is hard to demonstrate via the internet, the acceptance of Dogstar’s team living & working in the local community, changes in attitude to adopting female dogs, or even having a male animal sterilised.

But sometimes the value of our work and its undeniable impact could not be clearer and no one dog form the last few years sums this up more than Errol

We first meet Errol in May 2013 when we saw him out side our front gate and he was a shocking sight, not just because he was clearly in great distress and appeared to have a broken leg but because dogs like him are just not common in the immediate vicinity of our base due to the continued outreach work we do.

7 years ago it was vastly different and dogs like Errol were everywhere and I mean everywhere in our village. We had no idea where he had come from and he certainly hadn’t got the strength to travel any great distance. I concluded someone who wanted us to help him must have dumped him.

But helping Errol was another matter altogether, he was terrified of humans and we could not get within 6 feet of him. I took photos from a distance and could see that the reason he was not placing his foot to the floor was not a break but horrifically overgrown nails.

For 3 days we could only get close to him if we drove past him in our tuk tuk and threw food out, he never came near to the food until we were at least 50 feet away. It was during one of our feeding trips we made the horrific discovery by talking to villagers that Errol (who we had named) had been until recently an owned dog! When he developed Mange his owners had shunned him , tying him in the garden and cruelly straying him when they moved.

errol eating

We made the decision to net him using one of our dog catching nets so we could trim his nails and inject him with drugs to start treating his manage, it was a tough call but as he had no faith in people it seemed the best move. We trapped him and our vet trimmed his nails whilst still on the net, treated him and let him go as he was simply terrified by our presence. I was resigned to having to treat him like this and feed him remotely and then something amazing happened. The next day Errol arrived at our gate and stood looking at us, we took some food out and he ate it from a bowl with us a few feet away, this continued daily and each day he was a bit more comfortable and progressed to letting my husband Mark hold the bowl whilst he was eating. This allowed me to continue to treat his manage using spot on medication but we really wanted to be able to fully examine him and even bath him which was impossible.

31 days after we first started feeding Errol I decided to take a chance and very slowly and whilst talking to him I gently touched his side, he froze looking right out with a look of sheer terror on his then his face softened and it seemed as his was remembering something, maybe just maybe he had been touched kindly in the past.

Mark then crouched down next to me and also gently touched him and Errol lifted his head and lightly brushed his nose against Marks's cheek. The next day he started to wag his tail and come when called, now happy to be handled his treatment was much easier and within a month he was unrecognisable both in appearance and behaviour.

2 neighbouring households in the village had taken pity on him and started to feed him when we did, now Errol lives happily between all 3 locations. Some days he spends hours with us laying in our office under the ceiling fan but mostly he shares himself between his other 2 houses where the retired owners provide him with the food , company and compassion that was missing in his previous home.

So when I am next struggling to start writing an impact report I will just need to look at Errol for inspirational.