Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Dog's life - Loreto Style

One day this week I met a neighbor, Rich, on the Paseo and he started telling me about these puppies he had found/rescued and I wound up going with him to see them at another neighbors, Jill’s house. While we watched the puppies eat and sleep and play (all within about a one hour visit) I heard this story about the new puppies and invited Rich to write it up as this week’s Blog:

Warning: the following blog may contain heartwarming photos of new puppies that some readers may find difficult to resist. Read further at your own risk.

This week turned out to be one of those weeks that I really didn’t see coming. Nothing special was planned, just the usual morning walks with our dog, Lola, and maybe dinner with friends. Just when things were going as expected, I got word of a litter of puppies that had been born to a stray dog down in an unfinished home on the construction site.

As resident “dog guy” here at Loreto Bay, news of this sort reaches me rather quickly. I had gotten a glimpse of the mother dog on a couple of occasions over the past month or two, but had no idea that she was pregnant. She would peek out, let us have a couple of warning barks, and then vanish. I thought: “Just another street dog, looking for shelter”—only this one had a surprise for us all.

Grace, the daughter of a Loreto Bay resident (who is already a hopeless animal lover) and her friend Chandler (likewise) had been alerted to a new litter of puppies by one of the construction workers. These wonderful young girls were feeding the Mom (a street dog), and checking daily on the puppies. We decided that the puppies were still nursing and in need of their Mom—they were only a month old or so. A visit to the construction site, however, made it abundantly clear that all of them, Mom and puppies, were in great peril and could not survive much longer in the wild. Along with friend and neighbor Jill, my wife Jean and I enlisted the help of some of the construction workers in a search for all of the puppies.

Details were sketchy at best: there were six puppies, or was it five? No, there were only three left—had somebody taken a couple of them home? Aided by a couple of workers who were genuinely concerned, we initially found three small puppies, all females, all separated from each other. One was hiding under a piece of heavy equipment, while another seemed more active and was following the mother, trying hard to nurse. It was obvious that the mother dog had nothing left to give. She herself was emaciated and looked to be barely clinging to her own life, much less trying to feed the puppies. A third pup was located upstairs in one of the houses, asleep on the jacket of a worker. He said he was worried that she (another female) was cold, so he was trying to shelter her. So, we scooped her up with her two sisters and headed to the local Vet in Loreto.

These three babies were teeming with fleas, ticks and probably worms. After getting checked over, vaccinated for Parvovirus, and weighed (about 4 lbs. each) it was back to Jill’s Casa, where she and her visiting friend Anita took on the daunting task of caring for these puppies while we all tried to figure out what to do next. Little did they know that their life was about to become even more complicated.

On my trip over to the site the next morning to locate and feed the mother, I was greeted by two very excited workers: they had found two more. After extricating them from their hiding places, I tossed them in the car and it was déjà vu at the vet’s office. Now, all five (yes, that’s the final count) of these sisters (yes, all girls) are cleaned up, fed, and warm for the first time in their short lives. Now the real work begins.

The plight of the street dog in Mexico isn’t pretty. Anyone who has visited this beautiful country has surely seen the problem first hand. Here in Loreto, we have an active spay and neuter clinic, Animalandia, which has treated over 1500 dogs in the 3 years we have lived here. This organization runs entirely on donations and with volunteer labor, including vets from around the world who come here and donate their services doing free spay/neuter clinics several times a year.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that we still have no boarding facility to keep strays or abandoned animals in between the periodic clinics. Although we are making a dent, the problem is of a scope that is hard to comprehend. Check out the Animalandia website at, and look for our video on Youtube — just search for “animalandia Loreto”. It’s worth a look.

This week has taught me a few things. One is the incredible resiliency of these animals. This mother dog did everything she could to feed and save these puppies, even if it meant putting her on life at risk. Our plan is to take her to the Animalandia clinic in February and get her cleaned up, spayed, and adopted. She is sweet and courageous, and will make somebody a wonderful pet. The puppies are amazing. They change daily, and are so full of life in spite of it all. We are desperately looking for homes for these beautiful dogs!

(If you are in Loreto and are interested in adopting the mother, or one (or more) of her puppies you can send me a message through this Blog and I will forward your email contact to Rich who, as the Foster Father, will be able to help you give a home to a very deserving Baja dog. Drew)

Perhaps most of all, I have been moved by the unselfish kindness of the people involved. Grace and Chandler give us all hope for the future — these young girls were determined to see these puppies survive. Jill and Anita have allowed their daily lives to be turned upside down by a playpen full of puppies. I am a firm believer that you can judge a person, or a community, by how they treat animals in need. This week has shown me that no matter where you are, there are good people around. So c’mon, adopt one of these puppies. It will be good for you!

Thanks, Rich, for your Guest Blog, and for the many hours I know you have dedicated to improving life for hundreds and hundreds of animals in this community. I couldn’t have said it better myself – learning important lessons about friends and neighbors as a result of rescuing an abandoned dog and her litter of five puppies – that’s a special part of “Living Loreto”.