May 10, 2015
Posted By: Shaunescy
Stacey Tompkins, MA, CIC
Today is Mother’s Day. The grumble of the great-tailed grackle wakes me, a throaty screaming cacophony that’s an affront to my ears. The Mexican sun heats our bedroom and I stare at the mosquito net and it’s white filtering brilliance. My daughters, Lucy and Mia come trotting down the hallway and scramble under the net to snuggle me, “Happy Mama Day!” they squeal. I squeeze them and smell their necks and look at their wild hair and the brightness of their eyes. “What would you two like to do today?”
Mia, our 7 year old, lights up, pulling her knees under her chin. With her arms around her thighs, she exclaims “Oh! Let’s go find a dog to rescue, can we?” I look at Lucy and she shrugs her shoulders, saying “I’m in.” “OK, let’s get the gear,” I say, and we move as a team with purpose. Each of us pulls on not-best clothing and heads to the kitchen. Together we scramble eggs and heat up tortillas and pour salsa over everything. We agree nothing is a better gastronomic start to the day than breakfast burritos. We set aside some egg and sausage, for the soon to be rescued pooch we haven’t yet discovered.
Living in Guanajuato has been a powerful experience for us. We love a million things about this place. The corn tortillas, colorful alleyways, buganvilla, the welcoming, friendly nature of the people we meet and the sunshine. We’ve been here for a year, and the list keeps growing. There are, however, two stark downsides: the trash and the street dogs.
Eventually all gringo conversation will veer toward trash and street dogs. Instead of talking about these problems, the girls and I agree to work to make it better. Our efforts make a difference in the lives of the dogs we rescue, and that’s enough. Lucy and Mia love animals, yet it’s Mia who has the gigantic tender heart.
We gather supplies; dog leash, kennel, water, bowl, kibbles, blanket. We climb into our Vanagon and drive to the Panoramica, a road between the city and the hills where many of the feral dog-packs manage to survive. It never takes long to find one. We stop at the giant green dumpster and sit patiently while the hesitant pups trot forward to eat sausage and eggs. Mia has perfected the magic soothing sounds and easily compels one pup to approach. She gathers her up carefully, wraps her in the blanket and we hop in the van and head home. First treatment for our guest, a bath.
The fleas appear on her white spots once she is submerged in the tub. Tiny black creatures crawl all over her little body. I see now that she is emaciated, and suffering from malnutrition. This pup might not make it to a forever home, she’s not well.
Mia is reconciled to the reality of death. She is only 7 years old, but she has an old soul that understands suffering, and her sad green eyes look up at me as she resigns herself to hard truths; everything dies, beauty doesn’t last, suffering happens. When we walk in the city, she pulls me into cathedrals, and asks me to sit while she experiences the icons, incense and ancient grief that is present. I don’t pretend to understand, but I honor her need to be in this sacred space. “Can we go now?” I ask. “Not yet,” she says, gazing at La Virgen de Guadalupe. I wait, wishing I could crawl into her brain, or heart, or whatever place it is that emits this siren call to spirit.
“We will call him Lucky.” Mia says. “It’s time to take him to the vet.” I respond. I have a dreadful feeling. Maru and Miguel will only spay or neuter a dog that has a great chance of being adopted. This pup has a great chance of expiring during the car ride. Mia is unfazed. Lucy is stoic and helpful. They each rest a hand on the sleeping pup between them.
“You want to treat all her illnesses?” Maru asks. I nod and look into her kind eyes. She bows her head and laughs. Another project for the gringas. She fires off something in Spanish toward her husband and they both laugh. Everyone knows we are fighting a losing battle, trying to save street dogs. But, for this pup, the battle will be won. It’s enough.
We leave the clinic and the girls hang on me, loving me up. It feels like they are thinking of the puppy and I am the recipient of their affection, but I don’t care. All I know is that today we are a great team, and that is the best mother’s day gift there is.
Stacey Tompkins lives in downtown Bozeman with her elderly mutt, two teenage daughters and one energetic husband. She is an irrepressible writer and loves working with individuals and couples as a life coach through her business, Sungate Integral Coaching (406-570-1304 or firstname.lastname@example.org).