All of 23 pounds, Vector competed for scant resources on an island with a notorious stray problem - some 300,000 desperate dogs. His tail was bitten off, and a sizable scar blemishes his snout. He's missing a toe and a chunk of ear. And in a hot, humid environment with year-round insects, Vector contracted heartworm and tick-borne ehrlichia common to Caribbean canines.
Before those treacherous conditions finished him off, the heroes at The Sato Project - who've rescued countless strays over six years scouring Puerto Rico's aptly named Dead Dog Beach - swooped in and spared him. But of course, though rescues are rags to riches stories, Vector's maladies weren't magically healed upon his deliverance from that godforsaken place.
The list is expansive. Stitches to his ear and the painkillers, ointments and inevitable self-inflicted re-wounding that came with it. Heartworm treatment - a series of painful injections of an arsenical compound whose side effects can be fatal. Ongoing treatment for ehrlichia, which attacks white blood cells and poses risks ranging from neurological ailments to kidney disease.
Luckily, his latest affliction was comparably banal: the vet diagnosed a pulled back muscle - a pretty severe sprain, but nothing a little R&R and some anti-inflammatories wouldn't fix. Another bullet dodged.
Still, the totality of Vector's ailments is gut-wrenching. This little guy has seen a lifetime's worth of injuries, diseases and misery, and he's not even 7.
But as of last March, Vector's pain has an unforeseen beneficiary: his reckless driver of a baby brother, Nicholas Li Dale.