This is the story of Little Perro. It shows the impact one act of kindness can have on so many lives, and how you can save a life by taking a moment to stop. It’s also a lesson that the more people are willing to put their heart’s on the line the more positive we can put in the world.
Story told by Karen Von Jagow:
After three vacations in Costa Rica and we were becoming accustomed to seeing skinny, stray dogs wandering the streets alone. Initially, we felt so sorry for them. We assumed they were unloved and undernourished.
Overtime, we came to realize that they were savvy survivors, and seemed content with their unfettered freedom. One day, however, we were biking down a dirt road on our way to spend some time volunteering at a Monkey Farm nearby. On our way, my daughter and I found a little terrier limping down the road. We had never come across a dog that was in such obvious distress. Most definitely, this little pup was.
The first act of kindness
We got off our bikes to approach him, and took him to the side of the road. He was unbelievably skinny, he couldn’t even bear weight on his hind left leg, and he was covered in ticks. When we looked at his leg further we realized why he was limping. His nails were so long they were curling around his paw and growing into the pad. Our hearts dropped.
While I stayed by the side of the road, cradling him and giving him some water, my daughter, Eva, cycled back to our villa and collected some cooked ground-meat and a blanket. When she returned, I spread the meat on my finger and let him lick. It must have been his first food in weeks. Knowing we couldn’t just leave him, we wrapped him in the blanket, put him in the basket of Eva’s bike, and cycled back to our villa to call a cab.
Our driver knew where the local clinic was. As we entered, I braced myself for the words I truly thought I would hear ”It’s best he is put down.” The vet, Dr. Jessica, looked at him and shook her head. She examined him more thoroughly and took blood samples and showed us vials of his blood. They were a pale pink and seemed to have the viscosity of water. She explained this was a result of the rampant tick infestation.
After a few minutes of close inspection, she surprised us by saying, “I think he will make it.”
Hope for recovery
“How do you know?” I asked.
She replied, “His eyes. Usually you will see the resignation in a dog’s eyes when it knows it is dying. But this little guy, well he doesn’t have that look – he’s a fighter.”
Although it didn’t sound too scientific to me, I was uplifted by her prognosis. She deduced that he had probably been tied up for many months. This was because of the condition of his nails. Usually, they would be filed down had he been allowed to walk naturally. His hip? Well, it was too soon to determine, but he may have been hit by a car.
Dr. Jessica laid out a plan. The next few days would be critical. After that, if he was going to survive it would probably take six weeks for a full recovery. At that time, she would do everything she could to find him an adoptive family. If we covered her basic costs, medicine and food, she agreed to keep him as long as necessary, promising to find him a home. If his hind leg needed amputating, she would cover that. She had hope for him.
Of course, we were elated. The cost? We had no idea. It could have been $100, it could have been $1000 – it could have been $5000. We didn’t even ask. All we knew was that no money was too much for the life this little pup was owed. We vowed to each other, my daughter and I, that we would find the money. We would forego eating out. His treatment would be our birthday presents. Even Eva’s roommate in Montreal offered to help out financially. We would do this. We would do without to help him. It was a given. We would make this work.
Little Perro’s road to healing
Each day we went to visit him. We’d bringing food and little stuffed animals so he wouldn’t feel alone. We chatted with him, called him Little Perro (not too original I know), and for five days he became a part of our daily life. We cycled the five kilometres to the clinic each day. Visiting him became a highlight of our trip.
The day after we found him, we went diving and snorkeling with a great dive shop in our little town. My daughter went diving with a lovely young instructor named Andrea. The rest of us went snorkeling. We had a fabulous day out on the water, but Eva and I were really anxious to get back to our Little Perro. Our days assumed a routine. We swam, read, and hiked. But the thing we looked most forward to was our daily visit to our little pup. He was becoming our link to Costa Rica, a country our entire family already adored.
But the day came when we had to leave. The last thing we did en route to the airport was drop in at the clinic, and say goodbye to Little Perro. Our hearts were heavy. But we trusted Dr. Jessica. She would look after him. She would make sure he found a good home – I made her promise. “Not any home, I whispered between sobs, “a GOOD home!” She promised.
As I hugged Dr. Jessica and said goodbye, my eyes strayed to a poster on her office wall. I will never forget those printed words that seemed to speak to me, “Not all beautiful women are models. Some are vets.” No truer words were ever said. At that moment, she was the most beautiful woman in the world to me.
A happy ending for Little Perro
I messaged Dr. Jessica two weeks after we returned to Canada. She returned my text letting me know that Little Perro was no longer at the clinic. My heart sank as I read her words. I knew it… he was just too sick. But then she continued. He has been adopted and was still in Costa Rica. Now, he belonged to one of the dive instructors in town. At Rich Coast Diving. What !!?? We know them! And sure enough, it was Andrea, Eva’s diving instructor. She was the one who adopted our little pup. Little Perro was now head mascot at the dive shop.
To this day, I am in touch with Andrea. She sends me videos of him running up and down the beach. His back leg is healed. His name is Nitrox (an oxygen-enriched air used by divers). She always thanks us for saving him. She is in love with him. We are in love with him. We send him Facebook hugs from Canada, and couldn’t be happier that he has a second lease on life, in his own country, only this time feeling loved.
- Karen Von Jagow
This story made our hearts swell when Karen told us – it’s so touching, and just goes to show that there are good people in the world. It also shows you that even stray dogs are willing to fight to live, and can show so much love if given the chance. We are so thankful to Karen and Eva for being the type of people who will stop and put the life of someone else above their own needs. We are so thankful they shared this story with us.