Native Walla Wallan Erica Camba and her husband treat an abused dog | Etc
The medical training was useful for Sergio and Walla Wallan, Erica Jacobson Camba, who treated the abused dog of their duplex neighbor in Grenada after Sophie was savagely injured by a machete.
Since the couple’s loving intervention, Sophie has lived a charming and well-traveled life, but not without bumps along the way.
From 2017 to 2019, Sergio studied at the New York-based St. Georges University campus on the tiny Caribbean island, and Erica worked there. He graduated from medical school in March 2021 in Brooklyn, New York, majoring in emergency medicine.
Erica received her advanced training during her studies and is a nurse practitioner specializing in family medicine. She lived for a year in 2019 at College Place with parents Neil and Sherilyn Jacobson while doing clinical placements, notably in pediatrics at the Walla Walla clinic.
The couple met while she was a registered nurse in emergency triage at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and he was an emergency medical technician with the ambulance company American Medical Response.
Erica said their neighbor from Granada, a veterinarian student, was overwhelmed with her studies and other issues and severely neglected Sophie, then around 1 year old. He kept the malnourished German Shepherd mix of bastards tied up in the yard, unprotected from the scorching sun and lacking water and shelter despite the rain and thunderstorms that often swept over him, Erica said.
The Cambas kept a close watch on Sophie, supplementing her food and water, bringing her more and more indoors and playing with her, increasing her life in positive ways, Erica said. For a while, their neighbor resisted their gentle attempts to let them take Sophie.
“The key event took place during an aggressive thunderstorm. Sophie chewed on her cable, she was so scared. He had tied her to a metal pole in the yard. She ran away and left for a few days,” Erica said.
They found her reduced to skin and bones – more than before – and with a wound of dead tissue on her front shoulder, ear, neck and leg. “You could smell the rotten flesh. We thought she had been hit by a car. Her skin was hanging down,” Erica said.
Erica said that due to its proximity to the equator, most of Grenada is fast-growing jungle vegetation and its landscaping is in constant need of reduction. People walk there to tend the garden with machetes and weedkillers. And Grenadians are generally afraid of dogs or find them harmful like raccoons.
“Most dogs are abandoned, treated without love. They prefer to see them dead, ”she said. It looked like maybe someone had tried to kill Sophie this way.
A veterinarian said Sophie suffered a cutlass injury, a common injury in dogs.
“She was in absolutely horrible condition. We told the owner, and despite that, he was just going to tie her up on the outside. I said, ‘Absolutely not, that’s not OK. clean her up, go her weight has regained. Come back in a week. We gave her nursing, and he was okay with that, he said, “Thanks for doing that.” “
She said medical supplies were hard to come by in Granada, so she and Sergio used items around their little house by the water: a garden hose to clean the wound, cotton swabs Q- tip and small packets of Neosporin.
“But the wound was so big that the duct tape wouldn’t hold it in because of his fur. So we cut a t-shirt for him to wear as a waistcoat to avoid licking off the medicine.”
Throughout this ordeal, the owner showed no interest, Erica said. The Cambas offered to teach him how to take care of Sophie, but he preferred that she stay with them. After a month or two, they expressed a desire to adopt her, pointed out her medical needs, took her in for vaccines and vaccines.
The Grenadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is led by veterinary students from the university.
“They knew the dog, the owner confirmed, and had tried to drive him away because of the neglect, reported it, but no one wanted to tell him,” Erica said. “And then there we are.” They helped update his records, and the Cambas paid for everything.
“His wounds were healing. There was just that big, soft scar, ”she says. Over dinner, they discussed Sophie’s adoption with their neighbor. “We tried not to force him. It seemed like he didn’t want her. He was struggling with school and drug addiction, and we suggested some advice he sought.”
He said to Erica, “I know the good thing is that you take her, you have time to take care of her and play with her.” When he stopped by the Cambas for an occasional dinner, Sophie would run and hide.
They took Sophie out of the fire but not out of the pan. When they left Grenada, they faced a wave of paperwork to take Sophie with them. The animal cruelty prevention group assisted with the medical examination, administered the vaccinations on time, and chased away the documents.
“The GSPCA was so happy that we got her and took her to the States. They were instrumental in speeding up so that we didn’t miss our flight and could take it. ” They called in favor, made additional phone calls and emails to coordinate for the Cambas, who were flying in a few days and needed papers that were only a week old.
The stress and the hassle continued. Erica made the airline understand that Sophie was a living animal, but even in her pet carrier, the airline checked her in as baggage – they scanned it as a suitcase. Bad weather from Miami delayed the flight and then it was rerouted. Erica was frantic as Sophie spent 14 hours in her crate, in the summer heat, and needed water.
“It’s a living animal. Does anyone know that?” she said. “Did Sophie leave Grenada? Was she misdirected to Miami? I tried not to be rude, but the flights were messy. Our dog is lost.”
A gate agent finally listened to his urgent calls and discovered that Sophie was “lost baggage.” They notified baggage service staff, who located the checkout, gave Sophie water, and verified that her destination tag said Portland.
“I tried so hard to keep together. It turned into a two and a half day trip to a six hour fight. When she got to Portland she was just beyond ecstasy at home from my sister (Robin Jacobson) It was crazy, the trip, ”Erica said.
In the Grenadian vernacular, the average-sized 45-pound Sophie is called a “pound,” Erica said. “With her big breast, she looks bigger than she weighs. She’s estimated to be around 4½. She was a scavenger, eating whatever she could find, so could be older,” Erica said.
After Sergio graduated, they packed their things and came across the country to camp with his parents, Neil and Sherilyn Jacobson from College Place. The Cambas are newlyweds, having tied the knot on May 2, 2021 at Skamania Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge.
Over the past two months, they’ve been visiting family in the Northwest, half that time with the Jacobsons, planning their wedding, visiting Robin Jacobson – have checked with everyone they hadn’t seen in a while.
“My parents accepted Sophie with loving arms, loved having her here,” Erica said. Her father has limited mobility and Sophie modified her scavenging game so he could throw the ball at her.
While Erica lived with her parents during the nurse practitioner training year, Sherilyn entered her dog Buster and Sophie in a Halloween costume contest at Petco. “Mom made Sophie’s costume, which was a leatherback turtle, because it’s very authentic in Grenada. Sophie won first place.”
They are heading this week to Tuxedo Park, New York, for Sergio’s three-year residency which begins in July at St. Joseph’s University Hospital. Then Erica will start looking for a job.
“We’re loading all of our gear into U-Haul pods that will be shipped today,” Erica said Tuesday morning, May 18.
The couple left on Thursday.
“We are delighted that our new home has a large yard. The owner plans to install a fence, ”she said. “It’s off a state park exit where we used to drive for hours to get to when we lived in Brooklyn. Sophie does so well in the car that she watches TV in the car through the window on a platform we are building for her.