Our mission is to provide a home to animals that have been adandoned or abused, to show them what it is to live in a home where they are loved.

Canela was one of the dogs that I met the first time I went to Puntarenas to drop off Gato and Zafira. She was tied up in a trash heap on a short rope to some banana trees. Yesenia had acquired her in adoption since her owners were unable to handle her. Yesenia's solution was to tie her up.

Yesenia's reason for acquiring Gato and Zafira and then also Peter and Canela, was to reproduce them and sell their puppies. However what she didn't realise was that Gato and Zafira were already castrated and neither of the other 2 were. Yesenia also figured that if one of the parents was a pure breed that the puppies surely would be as well. She was told that Peter was a purebred pitbull (although there isn't really such a thing apparently) and her plan was to breed and sell pitbulls using Canela as the 'vehicle'.

Despite my efforts to convince Yesenia not to breed Canela, she did get pregnant according to Yesenia's plan. Surprisingly enough, Canela's original owners told Yesenia that they missed her and asked for her back. This lasted for about 2 weeks and they duly returned her, since she was still a handful.

Shortly after Canela's return Yesenia was complaining about her puppies having diarrhea. She also had a much smaller puppy, who we later named Paloma. This little pup pulled at Susan's heart strings and she was taken to hospital where she later died of parvo virus. This scare caused us to send Canela and Tracy to the vet for a parvo test (Princessa had been stolen). Irene, a local rescuer got involved to pay for the test, she tried to negotiate the puppies when they were born. Tracy was positive and Canela negative. This negotiation for the puppies caused a lot of additional negotiation between Yesenia and I where in the end she agreed to put the puppies up for adoption, asking a slightly higher adoption fee (as opposed to selling them) but sending them off vaccinated and dewormed.

Canela was soon moved from the banana tree area to the backyard where she was kept on a short chain. I tried to convince Yesenia to let me take her to the beach, just to get her out of there, and sometimes I would be allowed and sometimes not. Yesenia was very protective over Canela since she was supposed to be her puppy/income generating project and she believes that if a wave hits a pregnant woman, she will lose her baby. She believed it was the same for dogs and was scared I would take Canela into the ocean where she would lose her babies.

Part of the negotiation for Canela's pups was the resulting nursery project. Here she planned to set up a space for a mother dog to have pups and we would start rescuing pregnant dogs from the street. Yesenia built the enclosure a week before Canela's puppies were born but it was not conducive to living. The sun shone directly on her in the afternoons, the rain would come pouring in, she was not properly closed in so she was again tied on a short chain and forced to stay inside this make shift kennel.

Canela showed signs of not being well and Yesenia didn't seem to take the responsibility seriously. She didn't seem to take the overall concept of dog ownership seriously. Every time I went there the poop was never picked up and she would lie in bed until sometimes as late as 10am before getting up to deal with the dogs. Gato and Zafira were so bored that they were obsessing with an iguana on the other side of the fence.

The puppies were born on the 30th of April, 9 altogether. 8 boys and a girl.

The last time I went to see her at Yesenia's house, when her pups were only 3 days old, there was a lot of foul smelling diarrhea covered in flies that were buzzing between the poop and the babies and mom. I was horrified and gave Yesenia a hard time for not maintaining the hygiene.

Over the next week Canela's health got progressively worse and by Saturday, a week after I had first seen them, she had stopped nursing. I planned an intervention and thanks to Lisa we found a foster to take her to their home in Jaco after a visit to the vet in Puntarenas.

Canela had a temperature of 40', indicative of an infection. She was given antibiotics and pain killers and would be soon transferred to a vet in Quebrada Ganado near Punta Leona.

Foster with Zemaray

Canela's first days with Zemaray she seemed to be very unsure. Most dogs when taken from their familiar environments. despite how terrible their conditions may have been, are usually not relieved. She's launch at Zemaray and her husband in defensiveness but over the next days started to build up trust.

Vet Visit

At Canela's first vet visit she was found to have a temperature of 40' but at her second visit her temperature was normal. They did blood work and she is negative for erlichia and heart worm. She did however show a severe level of parasitosis and elevated levels of white blood cells, which again indicates an infection. At this stage the vet suspects that it is the parasitosis that is causing the immune response but he is doing a poop test to determine what the next steps will be.

Medical Emergency

This foster home was fraught with turmoil and difficulties with Zemaray leaving her already very busy husband to tend to the dogs and his inability to get Canela and her pups dewormed on time cost 3 puppies their lives. They were brought to Atenas where 3 pups died in the space of 48 hours. The tests showed that they had parasites including hookworm, tapeworm, round worms and coccidia.

Despite all the work that had been done to nurse these pups to health, it was clear that they were still not out of the woods with 2 babies sporting distended tummies and protruding ribs and hip bones despite eating well. Further tests revealed they had leptospirosis, a rare infection usually passed on via the urine of rats. They were successfully treated with antibiotics and products designed to support the liver and spleen.


Canela was adopted even before she was ready but when it came time to go to her new home her adopter had just moved to a home without a fenced yard. While she didn't think this was going to be a big issue it turned out to be. We learnt that Canela has a very high prey drive and an insatiable level of energy and she'd run off daily looking for cats and chickens to chase. This was Canela's 5th or 6th move in her short life when she was returned.


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