Seriously Epic

That’s the dog’s full name.  Seriously Epic, but we call her Epic(a) for short.

Rescue-Dog-Mexico-Epic

Epic, our awesome dog.

Maret informed me that I hadn’t actually done a post about our new dog so here it is!

For decades our kids have asked for a family dog.  Back when we had just Layne and Rauchelle we did the dog thing for awhile.  We dog sat Banjo {that was a sorry excuse for a dog.  However, I give him more credit than I naturally do for chihuahuas that are more like overgrown rats than dogs (sorry to chihuahua lovers, but I’m free to have that opinion ….and I know I’m not alone!)} but Banjo was in a sorry state: old, nearly blind and deaf.  Before his owners had even left our acreage I thought that dog was going to die either from heat stroke or a seizure, especially when he rolled into a pot hole in the drive way and he couldn’t get up!  Like a turtle on its back Banjo yelped and yelped, and snapped ornery-like to anybody who offered help.

About the same time that we were dog-sitting Banjo we rescued Keisha from the SPCA. A beautiful Alaskan Malamute who easily fit Banjo’s head in her jaw.  Keisha thought we didn’t notice her slowly climbing on to our lap; first her chin, then a paw, then another one.  We would chuckle, knowing the back paw would claw at our lap, at which we put a stop to this 75 pound lug climbing right atop of us.

Keisha wasn’t with us for all that long.  But during the winter Everette created a harness to connect her to a sled to take the girls for a ride.  She LOVED to crouch down and pull….malamutes are made for that.  She was a wanderer, a chicken-stealer, a howl-er clearly related to wolves.  Eerily, she disappeared from our lives that summer.

We had better luck with our kittens, Gemana and Charlie (Chaplin) that lived long cat lives for about 18 years each, quite an accomplishment for outdoor cats on acreage with hungry bald eagles and such.

Traveling just doesn’t seem conducive to having a dog.  Maybe taking the four-legged family member with you when you Hit the Road, that’s understandable (and expected?).  But seriously, why get a dog when we’re already traveling?  Packing 9 of us in a 15- passenger van is bad enough, then to add a dog-breath creature?  Crazy.

Well, some people see a dog as protection (like a gun)…but still legal to cross international borders.  Sure, Epic might be a good guard-dog, alerting us to people approaching our abode.  But that isn’t the reason we got an intimidating black dog with a good bark (that jumps from fright if I toss an empty cookie box within earshot).

The real reason we got let Maret get a dog was because honestly…dogs are her forte.

Forte: a person’s strong suit, or most highly developed characteristic, talent, or skill; something that one excels in.

We weren’t absolutely positive this was going to be a smart move, to take on not only a dog for our big traveling family…but getting a BIG dog!!  Crazy!!  But we did.

“Dixie” was a rescue dog.  About the time that snowbirds headed north before Easter she showed up, abandoned at a construction site in a wealthier expat part of the Lakeside Community here at Ajijic-Chapala, Jalisco state, Mexico. The racquetball community of people took it upon themselves to make sure she had food and water every day while they posted pics online and FB to try and find her a home.  She was looking like she had been taken care of, so she wasn’t an actual street dog out supporting herself.  But two weeks passed; she was unsheltered and chilly in the unexpected heavy rains of early April (rainy season doesn’t start until about June 15th).  When it was apparent that “Dixie” had sustained a gash on her left back leg that needed attending, John coaxed her with food and she willingly hopped in his car for a ride down to the vet’s office.

Dr Louis stitched up “Dixie”s leg and housed her at the clinic for a few days while a notice went out for somebody to be able to foster her until a permanent home could be found for her.

In stepped Maret.  She had been monitoring the needs for fostering pets here in the Lakeside Community, had even offered to do some of the fostering but none of it had worked out for her.  Yet.

After spending usually 6 days a week last winter volunteering at the dog ranch, she was wanting something more hands on, so me-thinks, something she could have more positive effect on rather than just washing bowls and taking dogs for short walks.  Some entity to pour her love and knowledge into on a 24 hour basis.

Over the years Maret has invested hundreds of hours researching dog training and behavior mostly via YouTube.  Her and I often end up in discussion about the different philosophies behind dog training (Dominance Training  vs Positive Reinforcement) very much like the differences in child training of which I can totally relate.  So although I am typically not interested in dogs (and even afraid of them!  Yes, a slight phobia) this was something that united us.

We agreed to take “Dixie” as a foster dog, to help her mend back to health, put some weight on while we waited for her fur-ever family to show up.

"Dixie" the first day

“Dixie” the first day

She was somewhat timid, wary of her new place, the tight quarters to share with 9 humans.  She bonded with Maret almost instantly, following her throughout our suite.  Every time Maret got up to move “Dixie” was there immediately.  And of course, Maret was the one to feed her consistently so her attachment increased exponentially with just that gesture.

I didn’t feel (much) intimidation from this large black dog in our home.  She accepted petting and quickly revealed her silly bum-in-the-air-for-an-intense-rub idiocyncrosy.  At least half of her body sways in each excited wiggle, adding weight to that moving thick tail (ask Laars how that feels at his 8yo height!)

The vet figured she was about 1-1.5 yrs old, still very much puppy.  She showed her good side to us enough that we decided within 24 hours to change her name to Epic and make her ours.

Well, really she’s Maret’s.  She is responsible for all things pertaining to the dog (except paying the bill…she puts in what she earns but not being able to work here in Mexico is a bit limiting to a 15yo…but keep your eyes peeled regarding her incredible digital art for your 4-legged friends….coming soon).  And in just the 3 months we’ve had Epic Maret has done fantastic work with her.  Epic is quite a quick learner, and Maret has taught her many things (Gracias, Victoria Stilwell & your Youtube videos) in a short period of time.  They appear to have a great relationship.

I know there are times when Epic seems to go backwards in her training and Maret gets frustrated, but I equate it pretty much to parenting and homeschooling.  You think your kids have learned a new lesson in life only to discover a (temporary) set-back.  Such is life!

The hotel is full of dog owners, and many comment about the natural relationship and intuitiveness Maret seems to display with all the dogs.  No wonder she’s been getting dog-sitting jobs frequently now!  She picked up some ideas at the dog agility that was held here at Hotel Perico, and even received some individual training by some of the event organizers.  And she’s considering developing a career with dogs (possibly) in the future.  We didn’t let Maret get a dog just because she asked….we felt there was something erupting from within her, some talent trying to spring forth.  Seems like we were right.

 

Dog Agility and Puppy Love

Hotel Perico was the site for the Agility Jalisco dog event last weekend in which famed Ian Dunbar was in attendance (he was our neighbour for most of the week!).

Our kids LOVE dogs, and especially puppies.  So to have the hotel grounds littered (!) with canines was a little bit of heaven for our kiddos.  At the same time it was a bit of a challenge for the resident dogs here who naturally wanted to protect their own turf from all those intruders.

Epic, still in major training-mode as we’ve (Maret, really) had her less than 2 months, did amazingly well.  She barked at the new vehicles and new four-legged potential playmates that paraded past our suites, but for the most part we passed the weekend with little incident.  Was helpful, I think, that I parked our big van in front of the patio doors so she could see less…but she still heard and smelled tons of attractive things.  Walks on leash were undoubtedly tiring for Maret as Epic had a kazillion new aromas to sniff out!!

Collage Dog staffBack to the Agility event…..our kiddos joined the Staff and had their ‘jobs’ for the weekend. Danaka and Toveli (along with Colleen {left} and E, another traveling homeschooler) were helping with the drinks/snacks and got to enjoy the shade of the terraza (terrace/patio) for the weekend.  Gaelyn & Toveli made posters to advertise the concession.  Gaelyn was in charge of Missy, a rescued dog we’ve had at the hotel for a month+  and Anders helped her parade Missy amidst the attendees in hopes of being adopted (its sounding like she might have found her fur-ever home!!)  Anders put flyers under the wipers on vehicles.  Maret was to keep an eye on garbage, but alas the visitors are so used to picking up dog poop none of them bothered to litter!!  So Maret visited, showing herself hospitable, and took photos/videos.  Laars also cuddled with puppies….a non-official job.  Me?…..I wandered (no staff shirt!), kept my kids fed, and Epic quiet.

Puppy Love.  One of the pups was adopted by a resident here at Hotel Perico so Gaelyn gets to puppy sit India now.

Puppy Love. One of the pups was adopted by a resident here at Hotel Perico so Gaelyn gets to puppy sit India now.

Spectators.  Missy watching, too.  And Tina.

Spectators. Missy watching, too. And Tina.

The official event was Saturday and Sunday.  Contestants came from all over Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain and the USA.  Some of the dogs were taking in their first agility event ever.  Some were so distracted by other scents in the course they just couldn’t stay focused.  There were handlers that totally lost it, their frustration and anger resulting in their own public temper tantrums!!  Pure entertainment, I would say.  Others pushed thru, trying to regain their dog’s attention and finish the course in good sportsmanship even though they were eliminated early in the course.  And some recognized the futility of asking their dog to respond when there was this fascinating new world out there for them to explore, and the handler quit and walked off the course….not tantrum-like but just in total acceptance of that which was out of their control!

It sounded like most people/dogs had a wonderful time over the weekend, in spite of being under direct sun in the heat of the day.  I heard that one dog said, “Forget it…it’s too hot!!” and laid down in the shade of one of the tunnels mid-course.  Smart doggie!!

Collage Dog Jump Collage Dogs jump

Sure, there were winners!  I think the top prize went to the handler/dog in the video I shared above.  But it’s more about the Experience than about the Outcome.  I’d say, the Experience was pretty awesome for all.  They’ve already booked to come back in the winter!

Collage Dog winnersTina & Maret are talking seriously about making some jumps and getting their own dogs trained….potentially for a competition, but more so for the fun of it.  Maybe they’ll be able to participate when they come back in November??

 

Fostering: Bones and Dixie

Abandoned dogs is a major problem in Mexico, one that gringos are often greatly involved in rectifying through various means.

Many of you are aware that the kids (particularly Maret) volunteered at a local dog rescue last year.  And a little bit this year, too.  But now Maret’s been much busier staying home and looking after rescued dogs….right here at Hotel Perico.

Tina found Bones outside a gringo-frequented grocery store and brought him home after a vet visit, and he’s been hanging around the hotel for a few weeks now, being fattened up and socializing with the dogs and humans here.  When he needs dog sitting he hangs out at our place.  Or he knows this is a safe place to come get attention and cuddles from the kids, and some fresh water and shade.

Collage Bones

Dixie’s story goes:  her family (snowbirds heading north??) dropped her off in the neighborhood of the Racquet Club a couple of weeks ago…back when it was raining and cold still.  She hung out at a construction site where friendly ‘neighbors’ brought food and water every day.  When it was spotted that she had a bad injury an ‘angel’ lured her in a vehicle and took her to a local vet for stitches.  She hung out there at the vet’s office for a few days until Maret made connections with the Lakeside Advocates for Animal.  Now she’s fitting in nicely at our place.  She’s obviously been house trained.  She is well-mannered, still puppy-ish (about 2yrs old) and quiet.  She’s been introduced to all the other dogs at the Hotel and everything seems to have gone well.  Dixie is good on a leash and gets plenty of walks with Maret around the grounds.  She’s a beautiful dog, in good health and spirits.  At ‘home’ she gets lots of attention and loving, and after the first day of nervousness (who wouldn’t be a tad nervous coming into a big-family’s home?) Dixie has adjusted amazingly.

Collage Dixie

 

Fire Fighters Equipment $3M Worth!

3 MILLION Canadian dollars worth of fire fighting gear arrived here at Ajijic-Chapala from the far north.  Organized by firefighters from afar: collected, organized, packaged and shipped.  Received here at Hotel Perico where organizations like The Royal Canadian Legion, The Red Cross & Lake Chapala Shrine Club came to divi it up, to deliver to communities around the lake who need basic equipment like this.Collage Clothes

There are basics missing from each of the local fire departments situated around the lake.  Without appropriate jackets, helmets, even fire hoses and jaws-of-life, men and women commit to helping and protecting their community.  They hop in pick-up trucks armed with fire extinguishers if that’s all they have.

The department might own old fire trucks but engines don’t work or water pumps are out-of-order.  Total disarray in some situations, but the commitment to serve is there.

Fire fighters and Paramedics will be thrilled to have some of this equipment at their stations.  Gas masks/tanks, footwear, insulated pants, jackets, suspenders, even sleeping bags (donated by Coleman).  All of it precious to those who have done without, who make-do.  Canada’s cast-offs put to good use.

Collage Equipment

Supplies have just arrived, but more will be needed in the future.  Maybe you could help?

We met several of the great men (& women) who came to organize & distribute this equipment, and there’s no way I can remember all the stories and organizations we heard about.  But I know John Kelly (left in pic,president of The Royal Canadian Legion Branch #1) could put you in touch with the powers-that-be who help make this sort of thing happen.  If you think you or someone you know could help in a similar manner those around the Lake who are in service to others by donating equipment that is past its use north of the border why not contact John rclchapala@gmail.com or jkelly203@gmail.com

Collage Personnel

Birdie Rescued and Died

The kids tried again.  After last springs commitment to saving a dove ended with a burial, and their experience at Hamilton Hobby Farm and the frequent death of chicks,  the kids were more prepared for the demise of this bird they saved from the teeth of Coco, a resident dog.  But still, burials are sad…it never gets easy.

The kids figured this was an Inca Dove, most likely an adult.  It lasted only a day with us.  There were no visible injuries but its feathers were falling out on its back and belly, probably from Coco toying with it.

The kids had taken it to a secluded area to see if it would fly away but the first attempts it could only flutter about a foot away, they think because it was startled by them.  The second attempt it walked a bit more, but shortly after that they found it drowned in its water dish.