Adopted Campo Dogs at the Casita, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico: Where are they now?

This is a five-month saga that began at the end of June 2017, when a homeless field dog gave birth to two puppies in the tall grass behind my casita in Teotitlan del Valle. The pups, both females, were the size of my fist. I’m little.

Let me first say: I have never owned a dog before ….

Listening to Brahms: Violin Concerto and Double Concerto and violinist Gil Shaham

….except for the time a boyfriend gave me one for a birthday present and my mom promptly gave him away, and then another time, as a young mother, when I took in an Irish setter who, after having been chained for a year, escaped out the front door and was instantly killed by a car. I swore never again. And, I didn’t, until now.

Tia on the left, Mamacita on the right. Bed a gift of Sylvia.

In the intervening months, first Sylvia Johnson Feldman and then Kalisa Wells came to stay and care for the dogs. Then, a female dog  with a strong resemblance to Mama (I named her Mamacita) showed up. Sylvia says this young female was always there in the background. We didn’t know the relationship so we called her Tia. She joined the family and offered auntie services to acculturate the babies.

Natural tranquilizer, Gil Shaham’s violin!

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Count: FOUR dogs at the casita.

Sylvia took charge of adopting out the two original pups, Luz y Sombra at ten weeks to great Zapotec homes. They had their puppy shots and a clean bill of health. The new owners promised to spay them.

Sylvia went back home to the USA and Kalisa arrived from San Diego to take over.

Count: TWO dogs at the casita.

The Foundlings playing with Tres por Diez towel. Thank you Kalisa.

Kalisa was walking the dogs daily down to the nearby river. One day she came upon two abandoned female puppies. She called them her Foundlings. First, she fed them at the river and then, of course, they followed her home.

Tia nuzzling a Foundling; mother surrogate. Just old enough for wet food.

We thought we could adopt out Tia, who was a young, beautiful teenager.

Count: FOUR dogs at the casita.

Kalisa at the Spay/Neuter Clinic waiting their turn.

With the guidance of Merry Foss’ Teotitlan del Valle spay and neuter clinic, Mamacita and Tia were spayed by Veterinarian La Doctora Alma from nearby Tlacolula de Matamoros. The cost was 200 pesos (about $12 USD) per dog to cover the cost of medication and surgery. They recovered.

Merry is our hero. We call her Maria de los Angeles de Perros.

Note: The village President opens his house for the clinic. He doesn’t want any more dogs poisoned, shot or abandoned.

One day, one of the Foundlings came home with a kitten in her mouth.

Count: FOUR dogs and ONE cat.

Kalisa taking Foundling Sol and kitty to La Doctora Alma

Our friend Arnulfo adopted one of the Foundlings with the promise of a free spay when when she was old enough.

At this point, Kalisa and Merry cajoled La Doctora Alma into finding a home for the remaining Foundling and one kitten. By now, Foundling was almost too big to carry in a woven market basket. The kitten fit nicely into the pocket of Kalisa’s apron.

All was calm for a while, except for after midnight barking and yowling on the patio.

I returned just before Thanksgiving.

Out for our daily walk, back road to Macuilxochitl.

Count: TWO dogs, Mamacita and Tia.

Mamacita recognized me immediately, even though I was absent for almost four months! Tia, who I want to rename Nelly (as in Nervous Nelly) was VERY stand-offish but is getting used to me. She is Kali’s dog!

Taking a break at the stream.

Now, I want you to understand, these are SURVIVAL dogs. They may have been born in the campo (field) or discarded as unwanted female puppies (no one here wants a pregnant dog) to live or die on their own.

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Merry Foss says she has spayed/neutered almost 400 dogs and cats since she started the clinic a few years ago. Now she has the help of the pueblo president to promote responsible dog ownership. Villagers consider their animals as GUARD dogs, not pets, for the most part. They are MUTTS that roam the streets and fields in search of food and shelter. We see very few purebreds here.

A happy dog owner with Merry after spay procedure

Yet, they are both now eating out of my hand!

Our dogs are nocturnal day sleepers and have the opposite sleeping patterns from me. To get up several times a night to let them in and out of the patio when they bark and howl is not what I bargained for! Please forgive me.

View of Picacho, Teotitlan’s sacred mountain, from the trail

So, last night their bed went into the carport and I got a complete night’s sleep with ear plugs and the white noise of my fan. I think we are going to make it!

Macuil’s sacred mountain. Zapotec villages have shrines atop them.


19 responses to “Adopted Campo Dogs at the Casita, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico: Where are they now?

  1. Met Merry in Oaxaca a few years back. She had just moved down from Santa Fe, NM. She ended up being our upstairs next door neighbor in Teotitlan when we visited & she was searching out a place of her own. Talked chihuahua talk (Lynda & I have two) & got our dog fix from her Noki (?) When the door between our rooms was open he would visit & make himself at home on our bed. She does good work. Glad to hear she’s still at it. Time to send her a few more bucks for her spay work.

  2. What a wonderful love story ❤️

  3. This is a beautiful story. As I might have said previously I’m involved in a dog rescue charity in Canada. I’ve also donated to the spay/neuter clinic inTeotitlan, and hope to visit it next time I’m in Oaxaca.

  4. Norma, it was a saga and I was blessed to be a part of it. Humor, frustration, pride and fatigue. All the things that comprises. Lets’s do it again sometime. Some far off time! haha


    • Should have been “All the things that LIFE comprises. “

    • Yes, dear Sylvia. This all would not have been possible without your generous contribution of love and time. Thanks will never be enough for stepping in and up at the last moment to rescue these dogs and me! You are welcome back any time. I don’t plan on any more adoptions in my future! Besos.

      • Dearest Norma, thank you for the kind words. It was indeed my pleasure to be able to help out. I would do it anytime you need help. When I said let’s do it again in some far off time, It was because I’m sure you’re not ready to turn the casita into a puppy nursery again anytime soon. Hopefully no more sweet foundlings come knocking at your door right away. Somehow the animals have a communication line to inform each other of helpful Samaritans though, e.g. the chicken claiming to be related to Mamacita! It’s all a hoot and we had many laughs. For someone not acculturated to dogs, you were an angel to turn your home over to their care and upbringing. Many many thanks on behalf of the dogs and myself for the experience. Love you. Sylvia

        • Thanks, Syl. While we have hardly spent any time together in person, you are an important part of my life. I’m having a hard time with the doggie re-entry adjustment. Cita barked and yowled under my window last night and I had to get up twice, once at 2 a.m. and again at 4 a.m. to shoo her away. These are untrained campo dogs who run to their own rhythm, not mine. And I have no clue how to train a four-year-old animal. I don’t think they have obedience school here! My sister wrote yesterday and asked if I walk them on a leash! Hahahahahaha. And so it goes. Sleepless from Teotitlan del Valle.

  5. Your writings are invitations to be together in your world, in the quiet countryside, filled with rich, personalness of ordinary activities. Love to you and your animal/friend family.

  6. Thanks Norma. This is a great story. I am going to read it to my grandsons.

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