Now before reading about my dogs, yet knowing that I have nine dogs, you might have asked yourself, How in the world does one acquire nine dogs?!? It is a process, dear reader, that does not happen overnight. You start out with one dog as a companion for another, then see another dog being abused, and then another that is starving, and then... before long, you have nine dogs. Actually friends of mine here have something like 14 dogs, plus horses, parrots, cats, etc. etc. that they've rescued. Of course they also have a big farm in La Guacima, and I don't, so I think we're stopping at the current number of dogs we have for the time being. It is really hard here to turn away, when you see street dogs every single day that you just know, in your heart of hearts, would make someone a wonderful companion. But reality sets in, and you have to, at some point, realize you can't save them all. I'm still learning this lesson. Every day. You can't save them all. One of my favorite quotes that I see on a lot of animal rescue e-mail signatures is, "You can't save every animal in the world, but you can change the world for every animal you save." Or something like that. In other words, you do what you can. Even if it's one cat. Or one parrot. Props to you.
Now, where were we? Ah, yes, number six. Number six lived with the crack family across the street. She used to be called Lechita (or Milky? I think), and was so very, very sweet that every time we came home, she would run up to greet our car. This really pissed off the crack children. Once I saw them hitting her with a stick, and I told esposo, that's it, the next time she comes over I'm keeping her. She did, and I did, and thus we had Liz. Now, it was hard to keep Lizzie in hiding and keep her from going back to the crack family (you might think I was horrible for keeping their dog, but believe me when I say she was not in good shape -- covered in ticks and fleas, malnourished, etc. -- and was not only not being taken care of but was being abused, so I really feel she was liberated!), and around this time my dear Lucy girl passed away, and I became pregnant, and we decided the house was not child-friendly in any way, shape or form, so we moved soon after. Much to the delight of La Familia Crack (whom we had alternatively christened the Hillbilly Bears; remember them?). Liz is best of friends with Bonnie (dog number 9), and a very sweet girl. And yes, we do have two dogs at the same with some variation of the name "Elizabeth," which I obviously like a lot (Isabella and Lizzy), but honestly did not do on purpose! Counting Liz, that was three dogs that somehow came from the crack family to ours. I am sure they still have plenty of dogs hanging around their "house."
So then we moved from San Antonio de Escazu to Ciudad Colon, in an attempt to find a house that was more suitable for a child. Unfortunately, the one we were in was built on a landfill, and every time it rained, broken bottles and cans and all sorts of miscellaneous crap would wash up into the yard. So we moved again, closer to downtown Ciudad Colon, and started a cafe in town. This would be the source of two more dogs (and Kiki cat, and Olivia, who showed up at that house just before we moved out of it).
The first dog to show up at the cafe was this cute little tan puppy, whom we called Caramela. There was a couple who stopped in just about every day, and they insisted that they knew the perfect people who would love to have the puppy, they had a little boy, etc. etc. So we gave the puppy to them. And I'll get back to her story later.
The next dog to show up at the cafe was a big black Lab mix. She was very friendly, and soon made herself at home. She'd sit on the back patio every day, but soon was barking at customers (much to esposo's chagrin!). He called me up one day and said, Do something with your dog, she's scaring the customers! So I did. I took her home. I actually did try to find a home for her, but this dog was bat-crap crazy and no one would take her. She chased my chickens; she later killed both of my rabbits. Yet she could be so sweet, and honestly I was torn on what to do about her. At one point I was ready to have her euthanized, because I just could not deal with her, and a baby, and trying to keep her from the other dogs (she nearly killed poor Liz once, who had to be rushed to emergency surgery). But then I couldn't bring myself to do it. Esposo was ready to shoot her himself. I somehow talked him out of it. I guess that most black Labs do go through this extremely horrible puppy stage, that, wonderfully, lasts longer than any other dog breed! (Have you read Marley and Me? Numaya was at least that bad, if not worse.) Oh, and I had at some point named her Numaya. It came to me in a dream, in which I was also told she was once a buffalo spirit who was here to protect me and had done so in a past life. How could I not keep her after that? Numi has since settled down somewhat, but I still don't trust her around chickens or rabbits, which is why I won't have any more until Numi has crossed over the rainbow bridge, whenever that day may come. Of course, I love her dearly. She can still work my nerves, though!
The next dog to come into our lives was Tiny. She actually was the dog of friends of ours for many, many years (which is why she is named Tiny, and not something like Elizabeth in French), and she is now 13 years old. The problem was, they had a young son (a year younger than ours) who was basically torturing the poor old dog, causing her to bite him. You can't really blame her. But, they couldn't manage to stop their son from hurting Tiny, and G. was at her wit's end about what to do with her. We were over one day visiting, and Tiny was in a pen out back. I felt so bad, and G. related the story about what had been going on. We offered to take her home, and did so that night. She nipped quite a bit when we first brought her, but now she's so sweet that even our son can hug and kiss her and she won't nip at him. She usually sleeps in bed with us, and mostly just lives out the rest of her life in a pretty relaxed state. Though she is totally the boss of the other dogs! So I have to keep her away from Numi, thus we have the "big dogs" in the front (Chloe, Cheska, Numi and Pooh) and the "littles" in the back (Liz, Bonnie, Maddie, Roxanne and Tiny, although the last two spend most of their day and night in the house). She has pretty much lost most of her sight and hearing, and I don't know how much longer she'll be with us. She was quite depressed when she first came to live with us, but she's much happier now and is Roxy's constant companion.
One day, esposo and son and I happened to be at our friends' house in Colon, who happened to live across the street from the couple who used to come into the cafe almost every day and who took Caramela to be adopted. I noticed the dog next door looked a lot like Caramela, and lo and behold, her it was! I wasn't really thrilled that they kept her tied up, and was considering taking her back that night, except that she was really the little boy's dog, and I didn't want to take a dog away from a boy who loved her. But we did ask our friends to tell the boy's mother that we were the original "owners" of that dog, and that if anything at all came up and they couldn't keep her, to please let us know first. Fast forward about six months, and we get a call from our friends, saying that the kid was diagnosed with athsma and they had to give away the dog. So we took Bonita home (bleh, they renamed her; I would never call a dog something like "Pretty" or "Precious" -- bleh bleh bleh!), renamed her Bonnie, esposo made the mistake of telling son it was "his" dog, and thus we ended up keeping her (though I was sure, due to her small size and playful, loving personality, it would have been easy to rehome her). Son adores his dog to no end, and after getting moved around a few times her her life, she's for sure in her forever home now.
And I think she'll be the last dog for a while... But then again, I never say never...