All Hail the Bomberos
Just as it is in our own country, it’s the First Responders that come to the rescue here. The Bomberos (firemen) are a group of volunteers, dedicated to caring for the people, the animals and protecting the town. Through any means possible, they collect and distribute food to those in greatest need, sometimes going without themselves. Luckily, we’ve connected with a Facebook Group in town, a group of ex-pats, dedicating themselves to caring for the Bomberos during this time.
And it’s through them that we’ve found our own way to contribute.
While this group of heroes is out delivering food and supplies to the hardest-hit areas of town, they sometimes return and find themselves without food to eat themselves. Beyond volunteering their time for the fire station, they also hold down other jobs to bring home an income. Many of those jobs are now gone.
Thanks to the ex-pats community and other locals in town, a food chain has been set up, with people volunteering to cook for them or have food delivered from the few restaurants still open for take-out. That gave us a perfect way to help! However, it’s hard enough to cook a meal for three here at camp, let alone ten hungry men, so we’ve connected with some restaurants in town and are now able to help two different causes at the same time!
What About the Animals?
The one thing we noticed when we first explored town was the number of dogs that live along the streets. We saw it all over Mexico too. And if you’ve been to Mexico or anywhere south of Mexico, you’ve seen it yourselves.
It is a real problem.
First, dogs are not thought of as pets in this area of the world. They are either working dogs, protecting property or farmland, or they live on the street. And they multiply! It’s not that we are immune to this problem back home. There are plenty of animals in need of good homes there too. But here, where people are struggling just to feed their families, there is no extra money to care for these beautiful creatures or get them fixed.
Luckily, that story has been changing for the better over the years. I’ve spent enough time throughout Mexico to witness this change, and our recent time through Mexico painted a much more positive picture- dogs with collars, on leashes, out for a walk with their “local” owners; dogs still roaming freely, but with rounder bellies; and a much stronger initiative by the locals to control the population.
Now, if you know me well, you know I am a bleeding heart for animals, something I inherited from my mother, along with my forgetfulness and tendency to talk a lot. Well, the only thing that has kept my eyes dry here was the knowledge that these dogs were surviving just fine on all the scraps from the restaurants in town, which are plentiful. But, with these food sources now cut off, things were about to become a real problem for the pooches of Pana.
I found my purpose in Pana!
Animal Lovers Unite!
Luckily, there are a lot of other dog lovers here in town, and through that same Facebook site, we learned of a mission to feed the dogs!
First, we learned about “feeding stations,” throughout the town, where people could donate scoops of food. If you’ve read any of my past posts, you know that selling food ‘by-the-scoop’ is a thing here. So, of course, we planned to buy bags and bags, and start walking the streets ourselves.
And then the quarantine went into place. No longer were we supposed to be strolling through town, especially since we stick out like a sore thumb. Our outings were reduced to once per week, to the grocery store and back.
Fortunately, there were people living in town who made it their mission to feed all the town dogs, even being gifted bags of dog food by other locals. So, with that problem being taken care of, we ramped up our efforts back at camp.
Our campsite includes a decent amount of amenities: a beautiful view of the lake, a community building where we can eat and exercise, and a pool with swim-up bar (that has never once seen a bartender or even enough water to “swim up.” But in addition to all that great stuff, our accommodations also include our very own dog pack: One mama dog, her sweet 5ish-month-old puppy, and two males- one with three perfectly good legs out of four- and all of whom have missed a few meals.
Although several families in our group here have dogs of their own, we’ve all purchased extra bags of food to care for our new tribe. And somehow, crazy as it may seem, the Jakoby family has somehow taken ownership of the puppy.
“Pana,” named after Panajachel, is the sole puppy in the pack, and a real sweetheart! She is super playful and needs someone to love her, or she’s destined for a life here at camp, where, like her mom, she’ll be very popular on certain weeks.
Of course, we’d love to be able to rescue all of the dogs here at camp and in town, but there are two things we feel we CAN do:
1.) We’re going to take her mom into the vet to be spayed. Once her procedure is complete, her life at camp will improve greatly, without the aggressive male dogs paying her a visit” each month.
2.) We’re going to try and bring Pana back to the states in hopes of finding her a loving home and the chance at a better life.
Why don’t we adopt her ourselves, you ask?
Have you met Quito?
Let’s just say, he’s pretty used to being the “one and only,” and at age 15, we’d like to give him all the attention he deserves at this stage of his life. Plus, every time Pana comes around, she’s quickly herded away!
So, Hands Up!
Who’s ready to love this cute little nugget? She is as sweet as she is cute and loves kids and other dogs! Especially other dogs that like to have their ears chewed on! We’ll handle all of the arrangements to get her across the border-Shhhh!! Quito still doesn’t know about this little plan- if you can provide her a loving home.
Go ahead, take another peek at that face!