The Helmand Sistan Project
Tales of the Field

The Dog Bite

During the 1975 season, a boy approximately 14 years of age (few know except generally how old they are since no written records are kept) limped into our camp at Khwaja Ali Sehyaka on one leg and a primitive wooden crutch. Several days before the boy had been severely bitten in the leg by one of the fierce dogs commonly kept by the rural populace of Afghanistan. Poultices of unknown substances had hardened on his leg but had had no apparent healing effect. The boy lived alone with his blind grandfather for whom he provided by collecting gifts of wheat from various houses of the diffuse and rapidly depopulating village. At one of these hutches he had been severely bitten in the calf. By the time we saw the wound it was so infected that we despaired of the boy’s recovery. He was, to be sure, very apprehensive of what might happen to him at the hands of foreigners such as ourselves. With much patience and boiled water, the caked poultices were removed from his wounds which, fortunately, were tears rather than punctures. The dog had twisted and shaken the boy’s leg but fortunately had not seriously injured muscle or severed tendons. All of this the boy described as we plied him with popcorn. His apprehension subsided while Dr. Trousdale worked by lantern light on his leg. We could do little for him besides clean the wounds and apply antiseptic and antibiotic creams and dressings. He returned each evening for several days for the dressing to be changed, but also, we suspected, for the popcorn. Then we saw him no more. Weeks later we caught a glimpse of him some 200 m from our excavation. He was walking normally without the aid of his tamarisk crutch.

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