Seriously Epic

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


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.


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


Doggie Party

Cocoa (#2….a popular name for a dog, I suppose)

Cocoa (#2….a popular name for a dog, I suppose)

Lots of dogs here in Mexico are Rescue Dogs.  Cute cuddly creatures that turn out to be more bother than expected so they are left out on the streets to scavenge, beg, and create packs.  Litters are perpetual unless people step in.

We’ve met plenty of expats that step in, besides Gudrun who cares for 80+ dogs at the Rescue where Gaelyn is back volunteering.  Gudrun also has about 18 dogs (and some birds, too) at her own residence.  Some people LOVE their pets. 

Kudos to those that do.

Here at Perico we are surrounded with dogs and their owners.  Cats (& owners) hit the road a few months ago!!

In spite of seeing dogs wandering the premises all the time (note: the grounds are kept clean) I was surprised when on Saturday afternoon I walked into the Reception Hall to find…..a Doggie Party happening!

I had got wind of it, the kids helping prepare;  talking about biscuit recipes and treats.  But I just didn’t realize it would look like…..a real party!!  A third of attendants were the children, a third of the attendants were dogs, and a third were the adult owners.  All watching the movie “Under Dog” while snacking on munchies.

Collage DoggieAll in celebration, actually, of Emmy being rescued 3 years ago by Tina.  They are the two in the upper right corner of the collage.

‘Twas a First for many of us!!

Dog Rescue & Leaving

DSCF1049Maret’s 6 days a week of volunteering at the dog rescue is coming to an end, as is the other kids’ dog walking.  And before we left town sweet Gudrun Jones wanted to honour the kids by having a picnic/bbq on Easter Sunday complete with an Easter Hunt.

Appropriate 'tables' at a dog ranch!

Appropriate ‘tables’ at a dog ranch!

Corinne, Elaine, Leigh and our girls with puppy Katrina.

Corinne, Elaine, Leigh and our girls with puppy Katrina.

People were comment how much we look alike, Toveli and Mom.  So we had a picture taken of us, but neither of us thought we looked that much alike!

People were commenting how much we look alike, Toveli and Mom. So we had a picture taken of us, but neither of us thought we looked that much alike!

Dyed eggs hiding high and low.

Dyed eggs hiding high and low.

Found Treasure

Found Treasure

Gudrun and Dryden

Gudrun and Dryden Jones



Earlier in the day we had brought ‘home’ one of the rescued dogs for a few hours because of a request of Maret’s.  It was a dog walking day, when she has time enough to spend one-on-one with a dog of her choice.  The last few weeks she has focused on Katrina, a puppy who liked to pull constantly on the leash, and gnaw anything in site.

Maret spends time during the week watching dog training videos so she has a better idea of what to do with Katrina in the limited time she has to commit to her training and development.  She’s managed to have Katrina pulling less on the leash, got her to stop chewing on her fingers, and progressed to simple tricks.

There is no doubt in my mind that it will be difficult for Maret to adjust to not working at the dog ranch six days a week.  It’s what she’s been living for for the last 2 months.  She knows that great adventures still lie ahead.  But that doesn’t make the leaving easier for her.

PS News is out that some people have started up dog fighting in Chapala.  Last night there was an attempt to break in and steal dogs from the ranch.  Gudrun was told about it via a neighbour, and reported it to the policia just this morning on her way up to the ranch.  After delivering dog food and the day worker (Martin) Gudrun was heading out when the policia surprisingly showed up.  Very quick response, in a society where dogs aren’t respected at all.  Three trucks with about 8 officers mostly in street clothes but with weapons strapped on their thighs or semi-automatic weapons in their hands, they walked around the ranch taking pictures, collecting information from Gudrun and Martin.

There were no dogs missing from the ranch, but supposedly 1 or 2 roaming dogs were snatched from just down the road.  Killed and used as bait.  Not a pretty thought.

PPS  I’m currently reading Gudrun’s book she gave me.  Fascinating historical fiction of one family’s experiences of life during WW2, including those who supported the Third Reich and those who hid Jews.  If you purchase her book the proceeds all go to running the dog ranch.

Good Happiness Turns 12

Toveli means “Good Happiness” and today she turned a whopping 12 years old.  She can hardly believe it herself!!

She didn’t have any ideas of how she wanted to spend it, so we took it upon ourselves to plan the day out for her. DSCF1479

So she woke up to the morning newspaper delivered outside the (bathroom) door where she spotted a coupon good for Today Only!  and she was off with her mom (that’s me!) for a coffee drink and muffin.DSCF1485

Tuesdays are normally our Dog Rescue days and she was still wanting to do that so off we went to pick a new dog for the day.  ‘Pirate’ was new and Toveli and him had a great time running around and cuddling.DSCF1490

Nearing lunch time we headed home for a surprise lunch of spaghetti, something we haven’t had in a very long time.  Simple can still be fantastic, and her smiles showed that.  While the kids were waiting for the pasta to boil that played in the sprinklers and played with the soccer ball and burned off some of the energy they were storing up.

DSCF1508After lunch Gaelyn had organized a treasure hunt which ended with a treasure of ice cream in the freezer and a stash of toppings for us to make Not-Quite-Banana-Splits to our own liking.  Tov loves sprinkles, so that was the crowning glory on her sundae.DSCF1519

To burn off some of that sugar we had a pool party, goggles and snorkels and whatever was their fancy.  Then a lull before a night of watching Thor on the big screen with bowls of popcorn.  Such a fun filled giggly birthday celebration full of Good Happiness.

The way each day should be!DSCF1522