I was driving down the street to my next dog sitting appointment, when I noticed something a little strange. Three teenaged boys were pushing an object across the road with their feet, and for some reason, I was compelled to stop. “Que pasa?”, I asked the one boy as I pulled alongside. He told me there was a dead puppy in the road and they were moving it so it wouldn’t get run over. I could just see the tiny shape out my window and for a split second, I was certain I saw it move. “Are you sure it’s dead?”, I asked. “Si”, the boy replied. I put the car in Park, got out and walked over to the puppy. It did indeed look dead. There was no hair left, the skin was bright pink and swollen from the sun, and it was covered in ticks. My eyes welled up with tears and I turned to walk away, glancing back at the lifeless animal. All of a sudden, the pup opened its eyes and so began the life of Miracle Millie.”
My dog sitter Vikki loves animals as much as she loves people—sometimes more, she admits. Her own home is a testament to her random acts of compassion and when she came upon Millie in the street that day, she knew it was meant to be. “I picked her up and placed her on a blanket I keep in my car,” Vikki told me. “When Millie looked up at me with those big eyes, I was pretty sure all I’d be able to do was give her a more gentle death than what she would have on that street. I took her to my next appointment and while I waited, gave her water from a syringe I keep in my car. I started to pluck the ticks from her skin and at 140, I quit counting.” Vikki was silent for a minute, the image now as visible in my mind as I’m sure it was in hers. “I took her to Dr. Fidel, a wonderful vet in Merida who has helped me many times with distressed animals. He shook his head sadly when he saw Millie, and I willed her to open her eyes. When she did, Dr. Fidel looked up at me and said, “We are going to save this dog.”
There are many stories in Mexico like this one, with and without the fairy tale ending. For me, Vikki’s act of compassion went beyond the obvious lesson that kindness begets kindness. This story was a lesson to me that things are often not what they seem. That I should pay more attention to the subtleties of life around me. That hope can be cloaked in pain and suffering. And that just a few steps away, I might discover something that could change my life, if only I allow myself to look.
Footnote: Named for her fighting spirit, Miracle Millie survived her ordeal and is now awaiting adoption. There are dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals and volunteers in the Yucatan dedicated to easing the suffering of animals like Millie. The larger organizations are well known, so here is a list of dedicated groups who are just a little under the radar.