This is the story of Little Perro. It shows the impact one act of kindness can have on so many lives, and how stopping for a moment in time can save a life. 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:
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, assuming they were unloved and undernourished.
Overtime, we came to realize that they were savvy survivors, seemingly content with their unfettered freedom. One day, however, biking down a dirt road to spend some time volunteering at a nearby Monkey Farm, 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.
We got off our bikes, approached him, and took him to the side of the road. He was unbelievably skinny. He was unable to bear weight on his hind left leg and covered in ticks. When we examined his leg, we realized why – his nails were so long they were curling around the 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 what must have been his first food in weeks. 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 is 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. She showed us vials of his blood that were pale pink and seemed to have the viscosity of water, a result of the rampant tick infestation she explained.
But after a few minutes of close inspection, she surprised us by saying, “I think he will make it.”
“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 given the condition of his nails which would have been 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.
She laid out a plan. The next few days would be critical. After that, if he was going to make it, it would probably take six weeks for a full recovery. At that time she would do her utmost to find him an adoptive family. If we were to cover her basic costs, medicine and food, she agreed to keep him as long as necessary and promised 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 that. It was a given. We would make this work.
We went each day to visit him, bringing food and little stuffed animals so he wouldn’t feel alone. We chatted with him. We called him Little Perro – not too original I know – but he was our Little Perro and for five days he became a part of our daily life. We cycled the five kilometres to the clinic each day and 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 and 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 adores.
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 t o 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.
Two weeks after we returned to Canada, I messaged Dr. Jessica. She returned my text letting me know that Little Perro was no longer there at the clinic. My heart sank as I read her words. I knew it …he was just too sick. But she continued…He has been adopted. He is in Costa Rica. He belongs 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, who had 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 (which is oxygen-enriched air used by divers). She thanks us always 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.