By Indra Lahiri on
This Dish Is
Morning sunlight streamed through the fog as it lifted, revealing my own personal paradise– Indraloka on a summer morning. The creek burbled and Majja the Fabu, our resident peacock, called an exotic good morning. Tom and Jake (the Turkeys) added their voices to the choir, while Magdie and Nunzi just grumbled and turned over in their sleep. They are not morning pigs.
I wake up smiling most mornings, but this day was even better than most. Señorita Marisol Esperanza de Acapulco was finally coming home! (Part I of Marisol’s story) I savored a cup of hot tea as I got ready to embark on my new and prized morning ritual, a meditative walk over the hillside before feeding and cleaning up after my beloveds. Three-thousand miles away, Marisol was also taking her morning walk. Just a few months ago she had to drag her two broken back legs behind her and scrounge what nutrition she could on the streets of Acapulco. Today, she is fed plentiful nutritious food and offered daily therapy to help her use her now-rebuilt back legs. Thanks to the diligent work of her vet, Dr. Eusebio Gomez Duque, Marisol now walks and even runs with only a slight limp.
When I left Señorita Marisol Esperanza de Acapulco with the Dr. Gomez Duque in March, we had agreed that he would hire someone to get her to the Texas border when she was healthy enough to travel. I had planned to bring her home from there. Unfortunately, he had no luck finding a trustworthy person for the job. Commercial airlines flying out of Mexico don’t have the best reputation for gentle handling of dogs and also require a prohibitively expensive customs process.
We kept running into brick walls when we tried to find a safe and affordable way to transport her. What now? I had to bring her home. She was counting on me. I couldn’t leave her future to chance. But how does one woman with limited resources safely move a 35 pound dog more than three-thousand miles across a dangerous, crime-ridden border? Add to that my obligations to care for my other 150 animals here, and my need to work at my paying job in order to feed them (and hence my limited time and ability to travel). I was stymied, but I refused to give up. My mother raised me never to say, “I can’t." My best friend, who has accomplished many impressive things against great odds and who never gives up on doing the right thing (even when it is not easy), likes to say, ”Solvitur Ambulando.” It is solved by walking.
So I walked. As I walked, I meditated. I sang the Cherokee morning prayer. I chanted the Buddhist Green Tara mantra. I prayed the Prayer of Saint Francis. Let me be an instrument of your Peace. Let me bring her home. I was blessed with a simple answer: “Ask for help.” Ask for help. Don’t try to do it alone. Don’t try to solve it alone. So, one of the sanctuary’s wonderful volunteers, Janice Preston, began asking bigger rescue groups for help and advice. Some never returned her calls, and we were stricken again by how overwhelmed and overworked so many animal rescuers are.
Many more made time to respond, and offered love and support but did not have an answer for us. Best Friends Animal Society, a huge rescue in Utah, has a whole department dedicated to helping grass roots animal welfare groups. They gave us a list of dog rescues who work on an international level. Janice, who never ceases to inspire me with her passion, resourcefulness and dedication, contacted all of them. Kelly Karger of Save a Mexican Mutt responded immediately, “We have to make this happen!” As I read her email, tears of joy streamed down my face. What a beautiful person. I could hear her warmth and strength as if she were sitting next to me, instead of sending me emails from thousands of miles away.
Kelly immediately offered to bring Marisol from San Miguel de Allende to Dallas, if only we could get her there from Acapulco. I looked up a map of Mexico and found that Acapulco is far from San Miguel de Allende, across dangerous territory and less than ideal roads. I asked for help yet again. Marisol’s vet, Dr. Eusebio Gomez Duque, readily agreed to drive the 12 hour round trip himself.
Here we were then, with the most difficult part of Marisol’s journey arranged by loving, generous people willing to help simply because they love dogs and wish to improve the lot of Mexico’s countless, suffering street animals one life at a time. Janice then turned her attention to how we could transport Marisol from Dallas, Texas to northeastern Pennsylvania. She contacted PilotsnPaws to coordinate a series of flights on small planes that will bring Marisol home, but found out it would require coordinating five separate flights on small planes, all of which would depend heavily on favorable weather conditions and, of course, willing and available pilots. How could we make this work?
Janice called some commercial airlines to get information on safety, comfort, and pricing when transporting dogs from Texas to Pennsylvania. We double-checked the information on safety and comfort by having volunteers with relatives who work in the airlines do some additional investigating, and were satisfied that this is a viable option. But where would we find the funds to buy her ticket and the large, expensive travel crate? Janice and I hardly had time to discuss the dilemma before a solution emerged. A supporter of the sanctuary who is dedicated to helping animals in need contacted us and offered to pay for Marisol’s flight. Another stepped forward to pay for the travel crate we will need to purchase for her.
The list of kind and generous people who have volunteered to help this little dog goes on. For example, the owner and employees of Char & Company Salon and Spa worked diligently to help us raise funds to pay Marisol’s vet bills, going so far as to donate all of their proceeds from a whole spa day dedicated to Marisol’s rescue. We had an international network of animal lovers involved in helping us bring Marisol home. The beauty of it staggers me. This world is an astounding place, full of grace and love and hope. “Be silent, my heart, until Dawn comes, for he who patiently awaits the morn will meet him surely, and he who loves the light will be loved by the light,” (from Between Night and Morn, Kahlil Gibran). All I had to do was ask, and look what happened. Another life is saved, and my little canine angel would soon be smiling herself awake every morning, right by my side on a morning walk through paradise.
Indra Lahiri is the founder of Indraloka Animal Sanctuary, an all-species safe haven for animals that would otherwise have been euthanized or slaughtered. Indraloka is founded on two principles: 1) the earth itself and all life are sacred and 2) we are all related. Indraloka supports animal rescue groups by providing a lifetime home for animals that are otherwise unadoptable, and also rescues farm animals from cruelty. Indra has dedicated her life to helping previously traumatized animals heal and rediscover joy, love, and trust. In the process, the animals she set out to help have become her greatest healers and teachers.