Passing Through

Marisol in the mountains near Mexico City

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:

“I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.”
 Marisol is just one dog. One dog a few of us, Indra most of all, could help. She will carry her story with her. She will be an emissary. And hers is a story not just of one dog, but of millions who still live as she did, without love or food or shelter. They are all Marisol. She will help, I know, to keep them from being forgotten.

Marisol and me near San Miguel de Allende

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5 Responses to Passing Through

  1. I felt as if I was right there as I read this post. Your writing is so crisp and clean, yet filled with emotion and love.

  2. Jen says:


  3. Reyna Paniagua says:

    Dear Jenny: Thank you for your thoughts, I need them ´cause I try now and again to save just one dog. I am happy for Marisol and for Indra. But still for you and the effort to love.


  4. Austin Gates says:

    I’m writing through tears after reading the wonderful story of Marisol. I’m so happy for the special little dog. Thank you for sharing her story.

  5. cate says:

    I found your blog yesterday & it’s taken me this long to get myself together. You are an awesome writer ! Have you considered publishing your stories as a way of raising money to help , and also to raise awareness of the horrors . If more people knew what really goes on , there could be a lot more people like yourself willing to come forward to help. Thank you so much for doing what you do & caring so much. It takes a special person . The world needs more people like you.

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