I’ve seen lots of beaten down dogs in Mexico City. Dogs whose spirits couldn’t withstand the lack of food, the nasty kicks, the ugliness of their lives. I think of them as hollow dogs. Alive but not really.

Mara should have been like this, but she wasn’t.

I found Mara on a little strip of grass between Mexico City’s busiest highway and a four-lane road also jammed with speeding cars and peseros, the broken down buses most working class people use to commute. Mara was just standing there, tail between her legs but head high as if she were deciding if she were in a crisis or an adventure.

I pulled over, grabbed a leash and threaded my way through the cars to Mara. She came right up to me. She was filthy but beautiful and I could see that between her legs, her tail was wagging.  She was terrified of the leash but let me carry her to my car. She huddled on the floor for the drive home.

Mara was a street dog, born and bred. The first time I tried to coax her into the house, she looked at me like I was asking her to step on hot coals. The first time we went for a walk on the leash, she ran back and forth across my path, thinking that might make the lead go away. But Mara accepted her first bath with noble humility. And she soon discovered that the best place for sleeping was our  big bed. From then on it was a battle of the wills…I say off, she says on.

Within a few days, Mara was one of the happiest, most self-confident dogs I’ve ever know. As my husband put it, “She’s an optimist.” Nothing was going to keep her down. She expressed her joy in life constantly, digging holes with abandon in the garden, playing with our other dogs like a pup. On jogs through the neighborhood, she didn’t so much walk as bound. Her happiness revealed itself in every movement on her body.

I usually worry that no one will want the dogs I’ve picked up off the streets. So many of them have damaged souls or wounded bodies. But not Mara. I think she let me know there was nothing to worry about. Mara’s glass wasn’t half empty, it was brimming over.

When I posted Mara for adoption, a friend of a friend saw the ad. She was interested but lived in Colorado. When she heard Mara lived in Mexico City she thought there would be no way to make it work. But it just so happens I was soon headed to Colorado. It was a done deal.

This is what I can tell you about Mara’s life now. She is deeply loved. She is safe. She is fed. That should be enough, but not for Mara. Mara also takes regular road trips into the wilderness because her owners are rock collectors. She gets to bound through meadows and chase the birds. As I write this, Mara is in Montana, on a summer camping trip. Just as it should be for an optimist like Mara. I can see her, flopped out by a fire, bathed by starlight and the sweet fragrance of pines, exhausted after a day of  adventuring. Mara wasn’t meant to die alongside a Mexico City highway. She knew it, right from the beginning.

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7 Responses to Happiness

  1. Annie says:

    That is such a wonderful story and look how Happy she looks. Congrats on another save! I wish all dogs had that chance

  2. Karen McKown-Arano says:

    Really nice. I have a big dog and two cats here in Mexico and had planned on adopting another from DF but luckily was not able to get a ride. I had to move and lost the small house I was renting and am now sharing the downstairs of a gentleman who is not thrilled about my animals. I so wish I could have gotten the other but am glad I didn’t since I am sure it would have been too tramatic for her. I am hoping to find a place with more room for the dog I have since he won’t let me have her in the house and has put so much construction junk out back that I can hardly walk though and she needs more space. I only meant to ask you if you were acquainted with another young man in ecatepec who rescues strays and mistreated pets. I am not sure if he speaks English or not but he has many he feeds and many he brings home. Maybe working together he could get more English speaking folks involved with his work.

  3. Karen McKown-Arano says:

    I’m sorry. I wanted to give you his info but my computer is being contrary. I said he was in ecatepec but I guess it is zacatepec. His name is David and his facebook is : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Adopcion-de-Perritos-y-Gatos-el-zacatecano-david/257284700956476
    Please take a look. It would be great if nothing else he got more people who take a look and I am sure he would appreciate a call out.

  4. Lorraine Bond says:

    “I second that emotion”

  5. Danielle Mileham says:

    Wow, what a great story. Im from Canada and have resentley moved to Mexico and have already rescued one little stray pup, the sweetest, humblest, happiest thing in the world. She was abandoned to the street at just the tender age of 2 months and had a terrible burn on her back and an aweful skin condition. One trip to the vet and shes all fixed up now. It only took her a few hours to realized how much love we have for her and she is such a grateful little mutt. She walks right by my side…. like look at my human, I have an owner and I am so proud. It brings a tear to my eye. Shes snuggled up beside me now as I type this.
    I have been doing some research and am very motivated to start an organization here to help control the over population of dogs and take care of the street dogs existining. So my plight will contiune.
    I dont know if you have seen the movie title Companion to No One. Its a documentary on the over population of dogs and the politics surrounding this issue. A horrific yet very eyeopening movie. You can find a trailer on Youtube of it.
    My mission is to save these animals even if its just a small number, its a start.
    Thanks for the great story about Mara, she is a beautiful soul, loved it and wish there were more people like yourself

  6. Michelle says:

    Hi. I will be flying out of Mexico City on Nov 4 2012. The rescue organization I know of is Mexipup but they do not have dogs coming from Mexico City. I would be very happy to transport a dog to Canada to find a loving forever home. Or if you know of an organization in Mexico City could you send me their information.

    • Karen McKown says:

      I would suggest you contact the young man I mentioned before. He has very limited space and spends his days feeding and helping rescue dogs (and recently a horse and a turkey) on the streets. He always has lots of dogs and cats for adoption that he is keeping. He gets them all vet care, etc. Please if you can adopt one let him know. https://www.facebook.com/elzacatecano.david

      Anyone else in DF who wants a pet, please, please contact him. If some want to donate money or food I am sure he will put it to good use too.

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