Marisol Esperanza was a little dog from Acapulco on a journey north. An Acapulco vet drove her to our house in Mexico City. A week later, I drove Marisol to San Miguel de Allende. From there, my friend Kelly, who runs the group “Save A Mexican Mutt” drove her another 10 hours north, to the border and on to San Antonio. In Texas, Marisol boarded a plane for the east coast. Her destination was a beautiful farm in the Pennsylvania mountains. The farm is an animal sanctuary (Indraloka Animal Sanctuary) and home to Indra, the woman who spotted Marisol on an Acapulco beach six months ago.
When Indra found Marisol, the little black and white dog had just a wisp of life in her. She was starving, infested with parasites, lactating (though the pups could not be located) and both her back legs were broken. She’d survived, barely, by dragging herself along on her two front legs. Indra and Marisol exchanged a look and that was it. Indra connected to this little spirit in a deep and profound way. So she picked up the broken dog and carried her to a vet. Indra left Marisol in the care of the Acapulco vet, Dr. Gomez Duque, when her vacation was over. As the months passed, the bills for Marisol’s care and surgeries grew bigger and bigger. Somehow, Indra managed to find a way to pay for it all. Marisol had become Indra’s dog and Indra wanted to bring her home.
Six months later, Marisol was ready. She could walk now. Her walk isn’t perfect but it works for Marisol. However, flying a dog out of Mexico is complicated and expensive. And so Indra searched for people to help. She approached an animal rescue group in the U.S. They found her Kelly. Kelly found me. Dr. Gomez, the vet, agreed to drive the first six-hour leg, from Acapulco to Mexico City. And so, ride by ride, Marisol headed north.
Marisol arrived at our house on a rainy, wet Sunday. She was scared and shivering when she was brought from her carrier. I took her in my arms to bring her inside. Right away, I saw what Indra must have seen. Marisol’s eyes seem to carry in them an understanding of life. They are sad eyes and show the suffering she’s been through, but they are gentle, too, as if she knows the value of love. In the week she was with us, my young boys cuddled with her every morning, my female dogs played with her, but softly, as if they knew she’d been put back together piece by piece. Marisol fit right into our routine. In the evenings, she’d run through the garden with pure, brilliant happiness on her face. We were sad to let her go. But on she went.
Marisol finally made it to Pennsylvania. Now, she is learning the ways of her new farm, adjusting to the smells of sheep and horses and thick summer grass. She is surrounded by people who love her. She is a long way from Acapulco.
I ask myself, “Why, why do we try so hard for just one dog when so many others suffer without help? Wouldn’t it be better to put the money spent on Marisol into sterilization programs or into education?” Perhaps. But perhaps not. We need Marisol. We need her story. Of survival. Of love. Of people working together. It helps us remember why life is important, why compassion makes us strong. I read a beautiful quote the other day, by Helen Keller. This is what she said: