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 ….
….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.
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.
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.
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.
We thought we could adopt out Tia, who was a young, beautiful teenager.
Count: FOUR dogs at the casita.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!