Tag: La Manga Mexico

Meet the dogs – Dhalia

Dhalia – the third of our nine dogs.

There have been previous tales in this series of meeting our dogs.  Firstly, Paloma and then Lilly.  Now comes Jean’s story about how she found Dhalia.

ooOOoo

Dhalia

Dhalia - domesticated but still the wild dog shows through.
Dhalia – domesticated but still the wild dog shows through.

It was a Sunday around the middle of the month of September in the year 2005. My friend, Gwen, and I had set off for La Manga, a small fishing village three miles from San Carlos, Mexico.  As the trip would take us through areas of desolate desert and the day was forecast to be a sizzler, we left early. The purpose of the journey was to feed a pack of dogs that were living on the outskirts of La Manga. These wild dogs were gradually getting used to our presence and with the aid of a humane trap we had previously caught two of them, a small puppy and her mother. Those two dogs were at my home and were gradually becoming tame so that good homes could be found for them.

Half-way to our destination, we saw two dogs running by the side of the road.   It wasn’t unusual to see strays searching for road-kill. I stopped the car and prepared food and water for them. One dog took off almost immediately but the other just stood perfectly still looking intently at me. She was rail-thin and full of mange.  Her ears and chest were scabbed with blood, and I could see that previously she had had pups. Tentatively, I pushed the food towards her. She took a bite and sat on her haunches; her eyes never leaving mine. Then she lifted a paw and reached out to me. Immediately, I burst into tears and scooped her into my arms.  I carried her back to the car where she lay quietly in my lap whilst we went on to do our feeding.  She was bloody and very smelly. However, I didn’t care.

I named her Dhalia and after treatments for mange she became quite beautiful.  She was the pivotal part of a short story Paul wrote back in 2011. [Ed: see note]  Under her sweet exterior remains that same will to survive so evident when I rescued her all those years ago.  There has been more than one occasion that she has brought me a recently killed squirrel or an ancient bone.  We love our Dhalia: she still reaches out with her front paw when she seeks attention.  Dhalia will be ten-years-old this year.

Love and Trust - Grandson Morten hugging Dhalia.
Love and Trust – Grandson Morten hugging Dhalia, September 2013.

ooOOoo

NB: Tomorrow, I will publish the short story written three years ago Messages from the Night.  Next week another account from Jean about one of our family members.

The Tenacity of Dogs, part two.

More on how dogs adapt to challenges in their lives.

(As readers picked up from my closing comment in yesterday’s part of this story, technology has rather interfered with events.  ‘Touch wood’ things appear to be back to normal!)

Yesterday’s article (thanks to Paul Gilding for the link) was about the stray dogs in Moscow.  Before musing on the more general nature of how dogs survive as strays, there is a video on YouTube about these Muscovite dogs.  Just over 7 minutes long, it further underlines the amazing adaptability of the domesticated dog when thrust into self-survival.

As regular readers of Learning from Dogs will know, before Jean and I met, Jean had spent a large part of her life rescuing dogs in the San Carlos area of Mexico, much of that with Suzann (who was instrumental in Jean and me meeting!).  Indeed, when Jean and I moved up to Payson in February, 2010 we had with us, much to the amusement of the American border staff at the Nogales crossing, 12 dogs and 6 cats, all rescues except my German Shepherd dog, Pharaoh.

So Jean has lots of stories about how the far-too-many stray dogs in San Carlos developed strategies for staying alive.  Dhalia, see story below, shows her feral habits when we go out for a walk in the forest by constantly looking for food, despite the fact that she is a well-fed, happy and contented dog.  Jean recounts finding Dhalia,

It was in 2005, about three months after Ben died (Jean’s husband). I was driving out to the small Mexican fishing port of La Manga where there were many stray dogs.  The aim was to feed them on a regular basis and hope that they would become sufficiently comfortable with my presence so that they could be caught, so that they may be spayed or neutered and then offered for adoption.

On the way there, I drove past a couple of dogs running alongside the highway.  Dogs frequently did this looking for ‘road-kill’ that they could feed on.  I stopped the car wanting to put out some food and water.

One of the dogs was so feral that it immediately took off into the bush.  I turned around and the other dog was standing about ten feet away.  It was cadaverous and obviously suffering from mange but cautiously came up to the food, sniffed carefully and then started to eat.  That dog allowed me to pick it up and then sat quietly with me on the front seat of the car while I continued to La Manga.  It sense immediately that it was safe and from that day has remained with me.  I named her Dhalia.

Dhalia in Jean's arms, November 2008

Fast forward to today.  Dhalia is one of Pharaoh’s group of dogs and is a sweet and loving animal.

Finally, a couple of other stories to give you a feeling about these rescue dogs. One from August 2009 about a dog called Lucky Lucy.  The other about Corrie, both stories from Suzann.

Enjoy.