Juno

Juno is my dog, a mexican street dog. I thought I was saving her when I coaxed her into my car two years ago. But I was wrong.

Juno was the saddest, thinnest dog I have ever laid eyes on. Thin isn’t the right word. She was emaciated, so weak from starvation she wobbled, a walking skeleton with some skin stretched on top. I first saw Juno on a rainy, cold summer day in the mountains outside Mexico city. She was standing along the side of road, nose to the ground, looking for garbage to eat. I noticed her because she is a dalmation and her spots were hard to miss. Dalmations are popular in Mexico. People sell dalmation pups by the bucketful, along the sides of roads, in lines of traffic at toll booths. Dalmations are popular until they grow up. Then they get tossed. I’d see them all the time, wandering the streets, lost, hungry, ill-equipped for the scavenger life. Juno was just another abandoned dog, but somehow worse. The word that comes to mind is desolate. She seemed like a dog that had just about given up on the world. And she was a mama. Her full teats hung low off her bony frame. That first time I saw her, I pulled over and tried to get her to come to me but she wouldn’t approach. So I left her a pile of dog food and drove on.

Every few weeks, I’d see her again. Thinner, sadder, wasted. I thought of her often. I gave her a name. Once, I tried to follow her and find her pups. She wouldn’t move while my eyes were on her. Then one day, I’d had enough. I figured her pups, wherever they were, must be grown or dead. I needed to end Juno’s suffering. I went looking and found her, wandering along the road, searching, once again, for scraps of garbage. I made a path of hot dogs that led to my car. I shoved her into the backseat as she tried to grab the food inside. That’s how Juno arrived in my life.

For weeks Juno huddled in our laundry room, snarling at anyone who approached except me. She was paralyzed by fear and tortured by stomach problems as a result of her advanced starvation. She’d cringe when I lifted a hand to touch her. She had endured many beatings, I could tell. But Juno seemed to understand that I was her friend. I was the only one who could get near her. It was a beginning. A place to start to heal.

This past summer, I left México and moved to a small farm in Maryland. I live on a hill, surrounded by trees and pasture. It is quiet. In the summer, the air smells of grass and leaf. At night, the stars shine strong in the sky. I have horses and take long morning walks in the woods. Juno has been with me for two years now and she cannot get enough of this new life. She is young and strong again, and often, I see happiness move through her body like a wave, as she runs through the woods, or rolls in the creek like a pup.

Juno’s joy is my antidote to the sadness of this world. When I read of the Taliban shooting a girl in the head because she desired an education, or of deadly hurricanes spawned from climate change, or any of the other endless atrocities of this world, it feels like there will never be an end to the darkness, the bad news. The problems seem insurmountable. But then I look at Juno and feel better. This is the gift that street dogs give us, that Juno gave me. They forgive. They heal. They respond to love. They let us help them. That’s it, more than anything. She allowed me, in some small way, to make a difference, to change a life for the better. Of course, I wish for more, I want a kinder world for my children, for all the children. But when I look down at my dog, curled at my feet, and she looks up at me with her big brown eyes and gives a thump or two with her tail, I think, I’ve done this at least. I’ve made this dog happy. It feels good.

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10 Responses to Juno

  1. Jim says:

    A beautiful story, one shared by all who have taken a dog from the streets. Thank you.

  2. Jo Anne Assini says:

    as always, beautiful, meaningful, filled with your soul. Thank you!

  3. Gloria F Conde says:

    Beautiful . She is full of Love

  4. Helene says:

    I feel good after reading that. Last year, we were living in Guanajuato (Mexico) in the mountain as well. We found two puppies alone near their dead mother. They seemed friendly but a little anxious. It was the evening at it was cold. I took off my coat and wrap the two little things inside to warm them up. We went back home by car. They were quiet and quickly they fell asleep in my arms.
    They were very thin, dehydrated with sparse fur full of fleas. We gave them milk because we did not know what to give them at this age and because we were afraid to make them sicker.
    The next day, we went to a veteriarian who told us they were about two months old, they were “ladies” and, overall, they were in good shape. They received all the vaccines, worming, flea stuff available… and of course, we decided to keep them both.
    We named them Luna (moon) and Arena (sand). We now have two little friends full of life and happy. They have the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen for a dog.
    However, I felt a little sad when we got back to Canada thinking about all the abandoned dogs we have here also. I was importing two little friends but at the same time, there were so many of them left alone and euthanized here in Montreal. But, our little “ladies” deserved a chance to live too. By saving them in the mountain because they would probably not survived, we had a reponsability toward them.
    While I’m writing this, they are both sleeping close to me. My little friends…

  5. Holly Hoag says:

    Beautiful!
    Thanks for sharing –

  6. Cat Morgan says:

    Hello! I found your blog and linked it on one of my town websties. The town of San Pancho on the Riviera Nayarit in Mexico is having an annual spay and neuter clinic, and upon reading your blog I just had to share your story!
    Thank you so much for writing and posting it. Truly bringing tears to my eyes. I have lived here on the Riv Nayarit for 2 years now, and do as much as I can to help the street dogs and cats….its so muy triste indeed. But the spay and neuter programs going on throughout the Jaltemba Bay and Banderas Bay areas are doing amazing work, and the packs of dogs are very minimal. It is the summer time that is the hardest for these amimals, as people that care for them during the winter just leave them back out on the street.
    Thanks again for your undying love for Juno…amazing. Visit allSanPancho.com to view the article if you like. I am sorry for not asking for permission in advance..but needed to get the post out, and if there is any problem please let me know.
    Blessings of love,
    Cat Morgan

  7. jenniferavis says:

    Wow. This immediately reminds me of Athens (Greece)…The homeless dogs just roaming the streets, hungry, sunken. Broke my heart. I couldn’t get them off my mind for a long, long time.

  8. lks says:

    Best blog I’ve ever read

  9. Julie Dunn says:

    Thanks for the beautiful story telling about Juno and how she saved you!

    I have left Mexico broken hearted and haunted by the dogs I didn’t rescue there. I vowed to never let it happen again.

    I didn’t anticipate what would happen in Fiji, where on a 5 hour layover (on the way to my father in law’s funeral), I took a taxi ride to pass the time and discovered a horrible problem with hungry homeless dogs around every corner. The taxi driver eventually let me stop and lure a scrounging puppy with my fig newtons. The puppy was fearful, but gave in to the trail of cookies, and into the taxi.

    LONG story short, and dozens of phone calls, monetary donations and emails later, the taxi driver kept him until I could arrange for a shelter (animalsfiji) to take him in. He was adopted a couple of weeks later. Though I didn’t get to take this hungry puppy home, I did action it this time and feel a tiny bit better knowing there is one less suffering dog in the world.

    I would like to partner with the author sometime… Jennifer, if you want to rescue dogs in Mexico sometime, let me know. Yo hablo espanol y me gustaria hacer mas a ayudar los perros de Mexico (y Fiji, India, etc…) en mi vida. God Bless you for helping and your husband who supports your efforts!

  10. I’m in Mexico now and found this dog how and who can I contact to help me bring him back to the U.S.

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