When we first moved to Costa Rica, we promised our children we would get a dog. It was a promise we did not make lightly and we just needed to get settled in before making our “purchase”. To be honest, we had not given much thought to the fact that owning household animals (cats and dogs) was not a “thing” in Costa Rica. Most people who had dogs had them for guarding, never inside. While I wouldn’t say the dogs were mistreated, I would certainly never say they were treated like family or royalty. My point here is that there were virtually no pet stores where one could take a look at the inventory and choose a companion.
For about 15 years, our family hosted a large Xmas party, complete with a choir! It was mostly a family affair and we managed to have a wonderful time year after year because we did not serve any alcohol. That was a brilliant move as I have noticed that the minute you start dispensing the booze, old memories of difficult events make their appearance and before you know it, Xmas gifts (and insults) are being thrown around the room, making another horrible memory. I learned my lesson from my own childhood! But that’s not the point of this blog.
I talked about this situation with my new friends from our children’s school since I felt terrible that we might have to disappoint them. We were told about an animal shelter close by and decided to visit. What a disaster. It was a rescue center that had been set up with the best of intentions but without any important financial backing or really trained volunteers. The aromas and condition of the animals were shocking and although we could see that the few people there cared about what they were doing, they could not do much with the resources available to them. We made a contribution and made our way outside.
Prior to leaving we stopped off in one of the little cubicles where we saw a woman making tiny outfits for dogs that she was preparing for a future retail section. As we were headed out, she ran behind us and asked if we could talk to her for a minute. She told us that she had a puppy at home and that she needed to move soon because her lease was up. She could not keep the puppy and wanted us to go to her house to see it. We agreed on a convenient time and did go see the puppy. She was a mix breed: cocker spaniel and golden retriever. It was mutual love at first sight. Winnie lived with us for almost 17 years. I miss her every day, but it is especially hard around this time since she came to us for Christmas!