Nick and I came across one of the nicest dogs I have ever met in the Communidad de Comandanzia on the Orosa River in Peru. We drove our boat up to a house asking if they had any dogs, and they introduced us to Rambo, who had just returned from a hunting trip in the jungle. We just called his name and he jumped in our boat, stood up with his front legs on the seat, and let Nick work him over for parasites. His recent hunting trip was fortuitous for us -- he had more ticks on him than all the other dogs in the jungle combined! Rambo didn't actually live at the house we had pulled the boat up to, so when we were done collecting his ticks we gave him a ride home a few minutes up river. We had a brief stop in Comandanzia on our return trip to Iquitos and Nick and Rambo had a heartfelt reunion.
Nick and Rambo
It takes a village
We visited many small Amazonian communities in search of disease vectors. Gringos are always doing such weird things, that our quest for fleas and ticks did not seem to phase anybody. On one collecting trip, we picked up a few eager flea hunters at each house we visited. At one point, we had 15 kids on our boat, ranging in age from 18 months to 10 years. If I went around the USA asking kids if they wanted to come with me to look for puppies (and fleas), I'd get arrested -- the same thing in Peru generates a bunch of smiling kids and parents. Just another benefit of research in Latin America.
Biggest tick I have ever seen
We stumbled upon this toad at Madre Selva Research Station in the Peruvian Amazon. Note the rather large tick on its back right leg. The tick's microbial community will be analyzed along with the other ~300 ticks we collected from dogs, ~300 fleas from dogs, and ~500 mosquitos collected in Iquitos, Peru and the surrounding jungle.
Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Montana State University