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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | April 2007 

Amuelto - Lucky Charm
email this pageprint this pageemail usJudy Parks - PVNN


God willing, she has a very special place in heaven and knows that in her last days on earth as a Mexican beach dog many people loved her...
It's another beautiful day in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on the Coast of Bahia de Banderas. Vacationers arrive by land, sea and air to enjoy time away from their daily routines and most of them are blown away by the idyllic surroundings they view from their hotel or condo windows.

The Bay before them is all that they dreamed it would be from the photos on line and in the travel brochures, and the Sierra Madres are a spectacular backdrop to the shoreline and beach-front hotels and condos.

Lynnell, Steve and their three sons were staying at an upscale resort inside the exclusive gates of Costa Banderas, north of Puerto Vallarta. It was their fifth day and they had two more days to go before returning to the chilly Montana temperatures.

Steve left early that morning to go fly fishing out of Sayulita (a fishing village a little farther north.) When I arrived to have a play date with my grandsons, and visit with Lynnell, I expected to find them playing on the white sand beach or in their infinity pool adjacent to the beach. Instead I found my daughter-in-law and the boys inside the house awaiting my arrival, and beside themselves with grief.

They had just witnessed a man prodding an injured dog with a stick, directing it toward the bob wire fence and off the beach. The dog was only able to move it's front legs and was dragging its rear. When they had gone down on to the beach to try to communicate (unsuccessfully) with the maintenance man, they watched helplessly as the medium sized black dog managed to pull herself under the fence with her front feet as the man continued to poke her with a stick.

They were stunned that the dog was left there to die. There was no way they could resume their day as though nothing had happened knowing that less than 100 yards from them a living being was left to die in the weeds next to the white sandy shoreline. They retreated to the house, Lynnell in tears, the 12 year old frustrated and angry and the two little ones confused about why they were not playing on the beach and in the pool.

"Dupee" (that's what my grandchildren call me) to the rescue! I arrived just in time to help take control and save the day! We marched down to the cabana and out on to the beach to see first hand what this was all about, the younger boys were left with a nanny.

The black dog lying on the other side of the fence lifted its head to look at us, it's brown eyes filled with pain. "Can't you do something Dupee?" Jordan asked. "Well, I'll try." I walked back up to the pool area and found a maid and an employee working in the garden - in my 'Spanglish' I explained to them that I needed their help to put the injured dog in my car so I could take it to the 'Veterinario' in Bucerias. They looked at me like I was crazy, and why would I want to do a thing like that. I convinced them that this was the right thing to do - it was not humane to leave the dog there to die.

Together we managed to get the dog back under the fence, taking care that the dog didn't bite any of us because chances were this young beach dog had not had a rabies shot. It was obvious that she had had at least one litter of pups.

We made a hammock out of my beach towel and carried the dog to my car. Jordan and I left for the 15 minute ride to Bucerias. The Vet at Animalitos was with a patient, we waited our turn outside by the car. We lifted the rear door to give the dog fresh air and gave it a bowl of water (actually 3 bowls of water.)

Jordan was upset about the whole scene, unsure that this Vet could handle the situation, it just wasn't the visual image he was use to. He couldn't get over the fact that someone would leave a dog to die without trying to help it... WHY?

I was also upset and feeling helpless, and was trying to figure out how I was going to justify the actions of a culture that I've grown to know and love to my 12 year old grandson, this was an experience that he may long remember and I didn't want to blow it. I said a silent prayer, a plea that God would help me out. Just then I looked across the driveway and the image I saw gave me some sense of WHY!

On the sidewalk in front of the parts store was a man sitting on the ground with his legs folded under him; when he scooted his body along the pavement and up the small step into the store I realized he was unable to walk. To me the timing of his presence was a sign, the question was did I get the right message from what I was seeing?

I tried to explain to Jordan that life is very difficult for most people in the world; they do not have the resources we have available to us in the United States, Europe and Canada; most people in the world do not have enough food or money to live comfortably.

We are truly blessed and sometimes it takes an experience like this for us to understand how blessed we are and question our responsibility in this life. We have to understand that the Mexican people might not want to leave an animal to die, but sometimes they have no choice; there is no animal shelter to call and most of them have no financial resources to provide care for an injured animal; they barely earn enough to provide for themselves and their families.

Over the next hour and a half we carried the dog into the clinic and placed her up on the table; we held the dog while the Vet sedated her, and then carried the dog in our 'beach blanket hammock' a half block up the street to the x-ray technician, (passing by the man sitting back on the sidewalk,) and up onto the x-ray table; carried the dog back to the clinic and reviewed the x-ray. It was apparent that the right rear hip-bone was out of its' socket; the Vet explained that surgery was possible but the dog would have a recovery time where she would need personal care.

It would take her three days to a week to walk on three legs and maybe 3 to 4 weeks, or longer before she could walk on all 4 legs. Jordan looked up at me - "We're going to do it, aren't we Dupee? We can't let the dog die! I'll take her home." Of course I realized he couldn't take her home, he was leaving in 2 days and this dog wouldn't be able to travel for weeks.

"Yes, we're going to have the Vet do the surgery - we're going to give this dog a chance, and God willing we'll find a home for her." At that moment in time I felt I was making the right decision for the dog.

When we left the 'Veterinario' we were feeling rather proud of our efforts, as Jordan said - "I feel pretty good about this, we saved a dog today!" I must have had a premonition because I responded with, "Yes, we did something to help her and with God's help it will all work out for the best.

But I couldn't help thinking about all the people living here in Mexico, just the other side of the road from where his family was staying, and the other side of the security gates from the posh homes on the Bay. "We need to be mindful of the needs within the communities that have welcomed us. The maids, nannies, cooks and gardeners that work inside the gates go home to a much different life style than we're use to, and although they may be blessed with many good things in life we need to be understanding of their struggles and why they may not react the way we do to what's going on around them."

Jordan and the rest of the family left a couple of days later. The dog, he named "Suerte" (Luck, or as he said, Lucky) had her surgery and when we checked on her she appeared to be recovering in the care of the Vet.

Our housekeeper, Seve offered to take Suerte when she was ready for a home. Seve decided to name the dog "Amuelto," which means lucky charm. Someone else offered to care for her the first couple of weeks until she was walking better. It all seemed to be coming together.

We agreed to set up a budget to pay for the dog's food, we picked up the first sack at Commercial Mexicana, along with a dog dish and a leash. We arrived in Bucerias with our borrowed dog kennel, just before Siesta.

In my 'Spanglish' I asked the doctor if he would write down in Spanish the instructions to care for the dog just to be sure Seve understood what was required. In addition to the hip surgery we had requested that the dog be spayed. The plan was to bring her back in a week to get the stitches out and to administer the rabies shot.

Things had been going so well that we were not expecting what came next - he explained that in addition to the injury to the right leg there was a break in the pelvic bone, this meant the dog would not be able to get along on three legs for maybe a month and then there was concern that the pelvis may not heal properly because she may keep lunging to try to stand.

This put a whole new perspective on the situation that we did not expect. We asked to have the dog remain one more day while we discussed the prognosis and how we were going to handle this unexpected news.

It's difficult enough to take in an injured dog that will get along on three legs in 3 days to a week and four legs later on, but a dog that cannot even stand up to go to the bathroom for a month or longer, and risks the chance of never having the pelvis mend properly because she keeps trying to stand is a huge responsibility for anyone. Not to mention the pain the animal is going through during this potential recovery period.

That night we were with friends for dinner, and seated at our table was a Vet from the States, as well two women from Bucerias. Molly Fisher works with the Canadian Vets that come to Mexico every year to Spay Clinics setup by her organization - "PEACE" - Protection & Education Re: Animals, Culture and Environment - a non profit located in Punta de Mita. Their presence at our table and their professional input was an answer to prayer.

One of the young women agreed to meet us the next morning at Animalitos as she was fluent in Spanish and we could discuss the diagnosis with the Vet in more detail and be sure we understood everything. If the 'pelvico' bone was broken they recommended putting the dog down because the suffering during recovery would be difficult at best and the prognosis for the dog to have any quality of life was slim.

Amuelto closed her eyes and went to sleep yesterday. God willing, she has a very special place in heaven and knows that in her last days on earth as a Mexican beach dog many people loved her, something she had probably never experienced.

We are sad she is gone but we believe she is in a better place. Her suffering prompted our family to look beyond the recreational shoreline and into the hearts and minds of the Mexican people. And, although we may not completely understand the 'master plan' we've all been touched by the whole experience.



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