How I Adopted a Dog

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    I did it! I adopted a dog, one week ago!

    It’s a shoe chewing, golden, playful, approximately 6 months old, happy, almost a grown-up, female, 10 kg weighing — dog. And a chucho, a mongrel straight from the streets.

    The Decision

    For quite some time I was longing for a faithful four-legged friend. Back in my homeland taking care of one was simply impossible due to work and the lack of space. Sadly I had to put it on the bucket list. But once in Costa Rica, as we all know, possibilities are endless. And so is the list of stray dogs, unfortunately. Since buying a dog would be a shame with all these fellows walking around eating garbage, I figured out it just had to adopt a stray one.

    In Puerto Limón there isn’t an asylum or anything of the like. Thus I was wondering: once you’ve decided to adopt a stray dog, how do you actually get one? You just drive around in your car, hoping one magically ends up in your trunk? Or you corner one and catch it with a net, risking a bite or two? You think I did that, now don’t you? Eh – eh. Thankfully, Limón offers desperate dog detectives like myself other prospects too.

    Life Savers of Limon

    Four years ago a group of volunteers set up a very lively Facebook-page. “Asociación Salvando Vidas Limón” tries to act as a matchmaker between street dogs and potential owners, in and around town. Next to that they organize large low-cost spay and neuter programs, in order to slow down the growing dog and cats population.

    As I was obsessively scrolling their homepage, an awful lot of cute, fluffy puppies were displayed. Tempting, but no. It seemed better to pay attention to a slightly older dog. After all, you don’t have to worry about the puppies getting adopted. When I met my online match a couple of days later I contacted its owner, where the dog temporarily stayed. Glad as the guy was to hear somebody was interested, he agreed to meet with my boyfriend and me an hour later the same day. Just to introduce ourselves to the dog, we thought.

    The Pick-up

    Next to the main road in front of a steak house on the other side of town we waited for him. As he walked toward us we saw he didn’t want to waste any time: he had already brought the dog! As it goes with dating, in real life she looked slightly different. Smaller and shyer than we thought she would be. Nonetheless, she wasn’t in a bad mood and thus we agreed to give it a try for a week. That is, after we caught her. Not used to people taking care of her, straight from the beginning the dog had a habit of escaping. It is why we named her ‘Chapo’, after the infamous Mexican drug lord.

    And that’s how it’s done: within an hour we became the owners of a dog. Surrounded by trucks and transport cafes, it felt like we had made some dodgy deal, but we were super excited about our new baby nonetheless. She thought differently. All the changes and the bends in the road appeared to be a bit too much for her. Vomiting might not be the greatest way to introduce oneself to new hosts, but hey, what can you do about it.

    Once home, Chapo was still shivering. It seemed best to leave her in the car with the door wide open for a moment. From the kitchen we observed her stepping out of the car, cautiously and curiously at the same time. Bit by bit, the garden was discovered. As I was later cleaning up our new baby’s puke I thought, well, that one’s of the bucket list. At least, if she doesn’t escape… Let’s see how it goes.

    [quote_box_center]Kristel Segeren is an editor and photographer with a background in International Relations and Eastern European Studies. Though originally from the Netherlands, she traveled over 50 countries before unexpectedly settling here in Costa Rica. As they say, life happens when you’re making other plans.[/quote_box_center]

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