He had no name. He was just a dog. Dying alone while humans, oblivious to his pain and fright, walked around him. A few stared and pointed at his skeletal body that could not move except to twitch. But they kept moving, on their way to wherever the vision of suffering was out of their reach.

When our gentle hands found him, they gave him what he needed then. Warm relief. Somehow he knew what we knew: Do not expect anything more. His fate was already sealed. We had only just met this sweet being, but now we needed to surrender to what must come next.

We would end his suffering by taking his life before his starving organs could cause more agony in his wracked body. No one would miss him….but then, no one would ever again stomp on his spirits or deliver unwarranted pain to his body. He would be free of a life of Hell.

We carried the broken body to my truck while workmen who had watched him wither cell by cell for the past weeks stared at us. Perhaps they were a bit ashamed for not having taken even a step of prevention for the dying dog. None wished him well. He was merely garbage being taken to the dump.

At our clinic, Casa Lupita, we watched as our veterinarian administered the injection that would end the pain and blot out memories of a brutal life. We stayed until the last breath was taken. I hoped that he somehow felt our love and compassion during his last moments on our Earth.

I tried to transcend my love to him as I watched him slip away, hoping that somehow he knew if things were different, he would be mine and be loved for many more years.

Instead, I can only share the end of his sad life with you. I hope that his memory will be a force to keep us going in our drive to better the lives of every homeless animal within our reach. Remember him. He is nameless. But he is precious.



I am not an advocate of Nicaraguan dog adoptions when it involves taking them to the States. U.S. shelters are bursting with dogs needing a loving home too. Best to rescue one there.

But then, I don’t interfere with what is in one’s heart. And I’m glad that I didn’t discourage Mike and Katelyn Hinkens, two young teachers here in Nicaragua,  when they decided to adopt Pita and take her home to the States with them.

Pita had paid her dues in life, having been abandoned, starved, impregnated, and living in a drain pipe here in Granada along with her newborn puppies. She and her litter were coaxed out of the pipe (with the help of a very long-handled mop) and taken to Casa Lupita for treatment and good food.

When the Hinkens came to the clinic in search of a dog to take back to the U.S. with them, I certainly didn’t argue. I was elated that Pita was going to live “the good life.”

And that life has continued ever since she has hit U.S. soil. I have received a plethora of Pita photos to fill a few albums — including her nap in her own hammock, riding Mike’s motorcycle, and the photo below — Pita  reuniting with Mike as he returns from a month away from home.

Pita gets a big hug from Dad!

The photo was taken by Pam Reusch, Mike’s Mom/Pita’s doting Grandmother,  who cries when she has to leave Pita after a visit. After all, she lives a long 15-minute drive from her.

(Grandma Pam also admits that her cell phone holds over 200 photos of Pita the Beautiful but only a few of her own children. You didn’t hear it from me….)

See “A Nicaraguan Souvenir” post for the beginning of Pita’s story.

A Nicaraguan Souvenir

When Katelyn Lucas and Mike Hinkens, teachers at the American-Nicaraguan School in  Managua, took off for home in Milwaukee, Mi,. this morning, they took extra special  baggage with them…..one of Nicaragua’s finest souvenirs!

Her name is Lupita, a Nicaraguan street dog in every sense of the word.  Back then, she was nameless, homeless, helpless when our volunteer Diane Meyboom noticed her crawling in and out of a drain pipe on a side street in Granada.

Neighbors informed Diane that the dog had moved her litter of puppies into the pipe, no doubt to keep them safe, and crawled inside to nurse them.  Diane and others then maintained her with food until the time was right to move Mama and her family to Casa Lupita where we could care for them.

It was no easy job to remove the family from the pipe.  After Mama dog was sequestered in my truck,  a special long-handled ceiling duster was used to drag out the babies.  Sadly several had died, but two had survived .

At the clinic, the three thrived, and soon after the two pups were adopted.

Then along came Katelyn and Mike, teachers at the American Nicaragua School in Managua, wanting to adopt a dog that they would eventually take home when they left Nicaragua.  The non-descript Mama dog, now without her pups, got the nod.  She was immediately named Lupita by her new family.

To any casual observer, Lupita looked like a hundred other street dogs…. medium sized, thin and bony, tan colored. But for Katelyn and Mike, they had chosen the most beautiful dog in the world!

Is it my imagination, or it this dog actually smiling?

As I write this blog post, Lupita and her “parents” are somewhere in the wild blue yonder, winging their way to a new life in for Lupita. Before they left, they sent this photo.
See “Welcome Home, Dad” post for followup story.

The Kaiser Report

Kaiser has settled in up there in Winnipeg, living a royal Canadian life and enjoying the coddling that comes with living in Marny and Chris Hohl’s household.  After his tiring two-day flight from Nicaragua, he was treated to his own room and BED (!), a laundry basket of toys, and an array of doggie treats.

If it were possible, I’d say that “Better days are coming.”  But what more can a once near-dead Siberian Husky now living that proverbial Life Of Riley really want or need?  Okay try this one:  This winter, Kaiser will have Dog Sledding Lessons!   Yes, Kaiser will have a job. He will learn to be of use to society instead of just lookin’ good! You KNOW you’ll hear more about this after the first couple of Canadian snowfalls.

What's for dinner?

In the meantime, Kaiser will continue to do what he does best: watch his dinner being prepared.

Soup's on!

Godspeed, Kaiser!

If all goes according to plan (and we’re always ready for a “detour” here), Kaiser will be winging it to Winnipeg, Manitoba,  in cool Canada. He’s scheduled for a Tuesday  morning flight (May 18)  that will lead to a wonderful, caring beautiful couple. His first home there will be with Dr. Chris and Marny Hohl. THey seem to have a line-up of friends who would like to adopt our Kaiser. But once the Hohls met him…..well….there may be a different ending to this story…

For those of us who watched Kaiser suffer through an unnamed disease for many months, this is the best news of the year. When he was finally diagnosed with scarcoptic mange, we then were able to treat him successfully. Thanks to the vets at Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine for helping with the diagnosis.

For the newcomers to the Kaiser story, I will again post his photo in his “bad days” when we first rescued him from an uncaring owner and brought him to Casa Lupita.   Dr. Jasson Figueroa took over his medical care and he had the loving attention of many of us, most of all Lucy Bartlett and Diane M. who cared for him in their homes.

The photo below was taken just days ago when Dr. Jasson and I took Kaiser to the vet for his health check vaccinations.

Thanks to all who had a part in helping Kaiser to recover, for being part of the massive effort to send him off to a new and wonderful life.  And thanks to the many Kaiser fans who kept in touch from afar, asking about him and wishing him a speedy recovery.  You got your wish!


The first time I saw the dog she was darting with the grace of a laughing ballerina between headlight beams of cars, trucks and buses.  Claudio and Jasson were darting too, trying not to be struck by one of the vehicles while attempting to lasso the dog with a rope leash.

But she kept up her game, moving fast for having only three working legs. Her left front leg was actually a handicap…broken and dangling and dragging.  Still, it didn’t slow her down.

Finally the dog was ours. Claudio carried her to the back of the truck. truck. She didn’t seem to mind a bit. She’d had enough of her game and was ready to give it up. She even went willingly into the kennel that we brought for her trip to the clinic.

Jasson’s conversation with the dog’s owners, calmly watching the drama from their doorway, wasn’t surprising: the whole family was disinterested in the dog or its safety.  It was disturbing to hear that her leg had been broken for about six months and left untreated. Yet she was permitted to go back to playing in traffic …..this time with a handicap of a useless limb.

Now I wanted to move on and out of there…with the dog.  No matter what: This dog was not coming back here.

Last week her useless leg was amputated at our clinic, Casa Lupita.  It didn’t take long for her to become the sweetheart of the family of abandonados living here. Jasson and Claudio named her Bambi. That fits her. Endearing, full of personality, friendly…..just like the legendary forest fawn.  But this Bambi is real. And adoptable.

Bambi - Loves People and Moving Cars!


One flight on a Continental Cargo to San Diego, California took Bambi to her forever home with Alexa Diez and her husband who own SniffCare, a respite center for pets.  Our frequent reports from Alexa tell us that Bambi is one happy dog! After seeing the above photo, it was one of those “love at first sight” kind of things!

Name of the Game

Casa Lupita was in full swing. Nicas were lined up in our reception area, waiting for their turn to report the tics, fleas, parasites and other maladies brought in by their dogs and cats.  Others were turning their little charges over for sterilization.

I spotted one puppy sitting on his master’s lap, waiting his turn at the table. He was a cute little fellow…aren’t they all?…and quite obedient too.  But what held my attention was that the owner, an ample-bodied man that could pass for a professional wrestler, was not what one would expect to be petting a precious little pup.

The bruiser was holding  what appeared to be a baby pit bull.  I wasn’t sure . But I decided to ask.  I knelt down to pet the puppy, then tried to be non chalant in asking if it was indeed a pit bull.

He muttered, “Si, un PEET boo.” Then he looked off into another direction.

I went for it. “You aren’t going to allow it to fight when it’s grown, are you?”

The man assured me that he was NOT going to use the puppy for pit bull fights.

I smiled and kissed the puppy on its head.  “Good!”  I continued with my maternal attitude. “This is a precious being. A gift from God.”  I was watching for any sign that would suggest agreement. He shook his head affirmatively, as though he couldn’t agree more.

“What’s your puppy”s name?”  I asked.

“HEET-ler,” he said, then turned his head away.


I never was totally clear on what one’s “mojo”  actually is.  But whatever its significance, I think that Kaiser’s right in line for getting his back real soon.

Kaiser Gets His Mojo Back

If you read my previous blog about this Siberian Husky pup who somehow ended up in the wrong part of our planet, you already understand the physical Hell that he has suffered for the past few months.

A  miraculous team-effort of volunteers worked to bring Kaiser to his present stage of health.  By no means is he out of the woods.  But we’re  confident that he’s really going to make it.

It wasn’t too long ago that euthanasia seemed to be our only humane option for Kaiser.  But with a move out of our Casa Lupita Clinic and into a specially-made kennel area at Lucy Bartlett’s Hotel “Bohemia Paradise”, he charted his own course as he began to thrive and heal.

He enjoys his own space, apart from hotel guests,  with a fan that offers a continual breeze. There’s also space where he can play with his squeaky toys. And there’s solitude for him to nap and dream. Volunteer “walkers”  take him on short jaunts every day in his special T-Shirt to keep his raw skin from sun burn.  It’s uplifting to hear the positive comments from people in the ‘hood who do notice the changes in Kaiser’s demeanor and appearance. What was once skepticism and perhaps a bit of disgust has now turned to smiles and nods of approval.
We may never know what helped Kaiser to turn that mysterious corner from death to life. Whether it was Dr. Jasson’s natural treatment of swathing Kaiser in a home-made paste of the indigenous jicaro fruit and alcohol… or the prescribed medicines for scabies….or those tablets that we purchased after learning that his breed  had a propensity for a zinc deficiency.  The answer is up for grabs.

For now we’re simply thankful that Kaiser has survived and is healing. We enjoy watching him improve, both in body and spirit. And though he’ll be missed so very much,  the day is close when he’ll travel to Canada to live in a climate that will serve him well and with people that will love him as much as we do.


It was 6 a.m. and Claudio Mayorga, our Casa Lupita vet tech, was nearly at the end of his morning run near Lake Nicaragua when he spotted the dog.

He called on his cell phone. “There’s a dog here in VERY bad shape,” he said. “We have to get it to the clinic. Fast.”  He rattled off directions to the road while I pulled on a T Shirt with one hand.

I rallied Oscar who was just a few houses away. He would be extra hands if there were a problem gettng the dog into the truck. We headed toward the lake.  Along the deserted road we saw them ahead in the dewy grass.  Claudio was kneeling next  to what was left of dirty white fur, his T shirt under its girth serving as a leash should it try to crawl away in fear.

Oscar helped Claudio lift the dog like a broken piece of fine china and placed it in the back of the truck bed.with great care.  I drove us back to Casa Lupita, hoping the dog would hang on, wishing that she understood how much we wanted her to live.

Claudio wasted no time preparing the saline solution that could bring some life back to her. He injected Vitamin B into the plastic bag , then started the steady drip that would hopefully rally her back to life again.

Now, three hours later, it seems that there is even more hope. The dog crumbled on a mat after eating a light meal of dog kibble. Eating seemed to have sapped whatever strength she had in reserve, but now she was looking more “dog” than “corpse.”

We tried to imagine what she must have endured: did she live alone in the brush for weeks on end.?  Where did she find food?  Did anyone take pity and did they feed her?  Did she at least hear a kind human voice?

I bring you this story not to disturb your day but rather to share what so many have helped to accomplish here in Granada.  It’s through all of you, here in Nicaragua, there in the U.S., in Canada, everywhere, that Casa Lupita has saved animals from agonizing injuries, lonely existences, or as a last resort,  helped them to die without further pain.. This is just one more.

In her new beginning she promises to brighten our days.

And so we call her Dawn.

We Spay! We Don’t Litter!

Last Friday at our community animal health clinic, Casa Lupita, we provided 3 and 1/2 days of treatments for Granada’s dogs and cats, working with a World Vet Organization team from the U.S., their second visit with us in just 3 months.

Our focus: Sterilization to reduce the number of unwanted homeless animals in our streets.

I don't want to be here!


60 dogs spayed
25 dogs neutered
38 cats spayed
11 cats neutered
59 consultations & treatments
1 bird treatment!
TOTAL  134    (WE ROCK!)

Dr. Tom Parker spent a final day at Granada’s coach drivers’ cooperative where he treated 20 horses (parasite treatments and floating teeth) and castrated two horses.  Ouch.

A professional dog groomer Annabelle with the World Vet group added a special service to our clinic this time. During this tick and flea season, her grooming was a special benefit to many unkempt dogs whose furs were infested with the disease-carrying insects.  Free flea and tick treatments were offered for the animals in need.

Annabelle sheared enough hair from this pooch to cover three large dogs. Imagine wearing this flea-infested fur coat in hot, steamy Nicaraguan weather!

Bertina, a new Casa Lupita volunteer, arrived to help at the clinic, then left with this starving,  homeless dog to shelter in her home. (Actually she left with TWO!).   Since she will be leaving the country in a few months, we will be searching for a permanent home for this beautiful creature (the dog, not Bertina!).

On behalf of Casa Lupita volunteers, the city of Granada, and all of its four-legged creatures, we thank the WORLD VET ORGANIZATION for its immeasurable contribution to our community. Its veterinary expertise coupled with an immense compassion for animals the world over is changing our world to be a better place for all who inhabit it and those who will inherit it.

We’re proud to have been a part of World Vet Organization’s mission here in Nicaragua.

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Donna and Friend

Donna Tabor blogs about life in Nicaragua.