My love of Colombian fur babies, all began on my grand adventure to Cartagena, Colombia to go salsa dancing with my college friend.
Our first day as tourists, 12/20/13, in the charming historic walled city of Cartagena, we came across a poor homeless, sick raggamuffin dog. I immediately ran and bought this boy a hamburger. We ran into the little fella for the next 4 days and would immediately go and buy him food. That 4th day changed my life forever! The little boy recognized me and started crying. My heart broke in a million pieces and I didn’t want to leave him to fight the streets on his own.
I could not get that little Colombiano, who I named Nikko, out of my mind. I knew at that point, I wasn’t going to give up and was determined to find him and bring him back to USA, despite having two Great Pyrenees rescues. With the help of a wonderful volunteer, Paola Marrugo, the search began, February 2014. It went viral on FB and my dream came true. Nikko was found 5 days later, sleeping on the church steps. I made two more trips to Colombia to bring my boy home, October 2014. My lovely, beautiful soul passed away on 5/25/17, absolutely devastating and excruciatingly painful after everything he went through to come to Arizona. My heart was broken!
In honor of my brave soldier boy, I wanted to open my heart and help rescue another Colombiano street dog and provide a forever home. Nikko was my angel in heaven, searching for that special someone to join me, Teddy and Zoe in Arizona.
Early January, I started looking at the rescue site of Cartagena Paws. I was shocked, there was a poor skinny, sick little Wombat, a street dog they called Beni. He had been rescued by an American tourist and with the help of Cartagena Paws, this baby was getting the medical attention he needed. I immediately inquired about him as he looked so much like my Nikko.
I was in heaven after speaking with Maureen Cauttieu, director of Cartagena Paws, when she told me I could adopt the little fella once he was well. Beni spent 4 months in the vet clinic going through Chemo and getting healthy from various illnesses.
I was so impressed with Maureen and the team at Cartagena Paws. Their diligence, tenacity and love for these homeless babies is endless. Their dedication in finding loving forever homes is inspiring and they even help volunteer their time to escort your chosen baby to USA.
As the time was getting closer for Beni to be ready to come to Arizona, I knew I craved another adventure! I wanted the honor of meeting Beni first hand in beautiful Cartagena. I wanted to walk within the walled city, be a tourist with my new baby, eat Colombian food, hear the Latin beat while Beni laps up a gelato and me a margarita. These everlasting memories with Beni would also give me alone bonding time, prior to him meeting his new siblings in Arizona.
With my carryon luggage in tow, off I went on my new journey, that again would change my life. Arriving April 20th to Cartagena, I started my trip visiting FRAD. FRAD is a sanctuary, where Dra. Ingrid dedicates her life helping over 300 homeless dogs, cats, donkeys. Then apart from me meeting Beni, the second most exciting event of my trip was meeting Maureen, Luis and Stephanie of Cartagena Paws. Their warmth and love for animals shines through and I now have new lifelong friends!
As I had never flown before with a dog sitting at my feet, I must admit, I was very anxious about it. Maureen was awesome in walking me through the steps and preparing me for what was needed to fly home.
My mini vacation of 4 nights was awesome! First 2 nights gave me time to explore Cartagena, meet my old friends that helped me with Nikko and meet my new lifelong friends that were helping me with Beni. Rooftop bars, delicious Colombian food, shopping and salsa dancing definitely was absolutely wonderful. My last 2 nights, Beni stayed with me in the hotel, preparing for our exciting adventure ahead. He was doing laps on the king sized bed, running down the hallways like a bullet and jumping in my suitcase, saying mama, “I’m ready to go home”!
Off we go, April 24th, my lovely “Benito Diego Dante” landed in USA. He did extremely well on the flights. I was certainly more nervous than Benito! Once getting home, I wanted to make sure I did a slow introduction with Benito and my two Pyrenees. It was midnight when we got home and my friend helped with the intro, in which we all went on a long walk. As Benito is 30lbs, Teddy 85lbs and Zoe 100lbs wanted to make sure the little fella was comfortable as I could see on our walks in Cartagena, he was a littke afraid of large dogs. I crated him at night and made sure I kept him on a leash wherever he went. On our 3rd morning walk, Teddy started getting excited jumping like a chili pepper so I let go of the leashes. Holding my breath and praying, success, they were all ecstatic to play, jump and run. I was thrilled and so happy as it showed me they accepted the new little fella Benito into the pack.
Anyone who is thinking of adopting a new family member, I truly encourage you to look at the dogs and cats of Cartagena Paws and FRAD. Many are sick and need your help in giving them a second chance at life and a forever home. Make it an adventure that will melt your heart! Go and get your Colombiano, they will be forever grateful and give you their endless unconditional love!