I cannot tell a sad story today. I need to dwell for a bit in happiness. So I will tell you a sweet story, a tale of two little dogs that found each other in this crazy megalopolis of winding streets, and traffic and thousands upon thousands of lost and homeless dogs.
About a year ago, I was driving on one of Mexican City’s major thoroughfares. It’s a monster of a road, with many lanes, speeding cars and way too much traffic. Luckily, on this day, the traffic was so heavy that commuters could only crawl along. This is the reason the little dog I saw ahead of me was still alive. The dog was clearly terrified, darting between cars to the center bus lane and back. She appeared lost, confused and most noticeably, very tiny. She was just a speck of a thing. I had in my car at that moment another dog I’d found not long before, an enormous German Shepherd. I was trying to find him a home but hadn’t yet. It wasn’t a good time to pick up yet another stray, but I knew this little dog in the road wasn’t going to make it much longer. And so I pulled over and plucked her out of the street. That is how Pipa arrived in our life.
It took Pipa about a day to settle in. But after a bath, some food and a night of sleep, this funny little chihuahua mix exploded into a ball of burning energy. Pipa was everywhere, bouncing off the sofa, off beds, off my children’s laps. She taunted our Pit Bull mix into wrestling with her on the dog bed. They’d play for hours, teeth clashing. It was hard to tell who was tougher. Pipa was a small dog with a very big ego. Nothing could stop her.
Now, I have a dog walker who helps me out with my pack. Her name is Jacqueline. Jackie loves dogs and they love her. Sometimes Jackie’s husband Manuel also lends a hand with the dog walks. On one of these occasions he told me that after their very old Doberman died there would be no more dogs in his house. “I’m tired of the dogs, ” he said firmly.
The day came, too soon, when their Doberman, Viyeka, passed away. I thought that would be it. No more dogs for Jackie and Manuel. But Pipa had different plans.
From the moment Pipa set eyes on Manuel, she declared him, hers. She would snuggle in his arms like a contented child, calm and endearing. She’d stare up at him adoringly with her large brown bug eyes. Jackie was already taken with Pipa and Pipa seemed to know this. It was Manuel she had to win over. And she did, with wily skill. Soon enough, Manuel agreed that Pipa could come home with them for “a prueba,” a test. That was it. Pipa never returned to my house. So much for “no more dogs!”
This should be the end of the story, but it isn’t. All was well in Pipa’s life but Jackie was discontent. She felt Pipa needed a companion. (“No way,” said Manuel, “No way, two dogs.”) Still, in private, Jackie said to me, ” If you ever see a dog like Pipa on the street, tell me.” Of course, I knew that wouldn’t happen. I might find a small dog, but Pipa was a one-of-a-kind mutt, an unknown mix of chihuahua and something else. I was right. I never saw a dog like Pipa. It was Jackie herself who did.
One day, as Jackie scrolled through dogs for adoption on an internet site, one caught her eye. The dog had been roaming the streets and a nice woman had picked her up. Now the dog needed a permanent home. This dog didn’t look like Pipa. She WAS Pipa. An identical match, down to the white spot on the chest, and the little white feet. It was as if Pipa had been cloned. It was every mutt owner’s secret dream—to get a second one, exactly like the first. Jackie got Lilo.
It’s hard to explain how unlikely a scenario this is in a place like Mexico City. This is a city so huge and so chaotic, it’s like a bad science experiment grown out of control in a petri dish. Besides the 20 plus million humans, there are an estimated 2 million homeless dogs roaming the streets. There is no system of registrations in this city, no lost and found call-in hotline. People, for the most part, reject identification tags. Microchips are practically nonexistent. Some groups post dogs for adoption, but it’s a random helter-skeleter process. So, for Jackie to find a site on the internet with Pipa’s long lost twin on it is simply miraculous. Jackie knew this, of course. As for Manuel, he didn’t stand a chance. Two days after Jackie saw Lilo’s photo, Lilo was home.
Like Pipa, Lilo knew how to play the game. Manuel was hers. She curled into him on the sofa, her body language clearly saying, “mine, mine, mine.”
A few days later, when I asked how Lilo was doing, Manuel told me, “Yes, Lilo is good, very good.” There was a note of pride in his voice.
I know good things come to good people. But I think life’s greatest rewards are reserved for good people who are good to the most vulnerable of this world—to the lost, the homeless, the abandoned—people like Jackie and Manuel. They took in Pipa, who led them, in a way, to Lilo. Together, these two little dogs gave them a story of coincidence and connection, a story that will stay with them always, and will always make them smile. And that’s more than enough. Really, is there anything better than a good story?