Save Cooka- An Abused Stray
We've all seen the hearbreaking videos on Facebook of abused strays abroad. We've also seen the heartwarming videos of some of the lucky ones who are rescued and rehabilitated. The transformative power of love and kindness to these animals is miraculous. Please join me in being part of one of those small miracles.
After a recent trip to Mexico we arrived, after dark, to find a precious little brown dog curled up on the doorstep of the casita we had rented. She cowered as we mounted the steps toward the door, clearly expecting to be chased away or kicked.
"Our house came with a dog!" my 8 year daughter shouted shouted, smiling.
When we spoke kindly to the dog, she politely stood and moved aside so that we could open the door to what would be our home for the week. As we unloaded our baggage and groceries, we looked up to see that she had poked her head in the door, carefully keeping her body outside. Head down and tail gently wagging, she was very shyly asking if we were friend or foe, and if we might be able to part with a piece or two of that roasted chicken we had set on the counter.
We could see every one of her ribs and it was obvious that she had recently weaned a litter of puppies. Of course we shared our chicken with her. She was covered in fleas and ticks and starving, but so obviously desperate for kindness that we couldn't resist her.
She was very timid at first. I began getting close to her by having my morning coffee on our front steps (her hangout; our housekeeper told us that the house stays mostly empty so it must have been a safe place for her) and slowly but surely, she inched closer and closer to me. Before long, she was laying next to me, leaning in and enjoying scratches on her belly and behind her ears.
She was kind and gentle with my daughter and would delicately take treats from our hands like a little princesa.
By the end of the week, she was finding us on the beach, ecstatic to see us in that full butt-wag way only dogs can express. She'd lay down in the sand, careful to stay off of our beach blankets (again, so polite!) and enjoy the shade of our umbrella with us.
I have travelled the world and have seen many stray dogs, but never have I felt this kind of connection with an animal. It was like the universe was sending me a message.
Seeing the way the villagers kicked at her as she trotted around town broke my heart. This dog deserves so much better than the hand she's been dealt. I cried my eyes out the morning we had to leave her.
As soon as we were back in the US, I contacted the owner of the casita we rented to find out if she knew the dog's story. She was thrilled that I had taken an interest. Get your tissues ready. This is a direct quote from a message I recieved from her:
"Now...about the dog...I
KNOW!!!!!!!! I am often locked away involved in animal clinics, fund
raisers, etc. around the area, so it is close to my heart. The
dog to which you are referring breaks my heart every time I come up to
town. Her name is COOKA. and is so mistreated by the neighbours next
door. They think they are treating her ok...I guess. but it is so awful. I
bring her food when I come..she tried to jump in my car and come home with
me and my dog. My wish is that someone would just take her. They let her
father come and rape her every time she comes into heat and she suffers
pregnancy and litters which dissappear within days for $.
If you have any ideas, we can share and maybe do something? "
So. I plan to bring Cooka to Portland to live the life she deserves, come hell or high water. It will be quite the process, but I have befriended the casita owner and we are in cahoots to get Cooka the hell out of there.
Cooka will need medical care that may possibly be extensive, the least of which will be vaccinations, wormer, spay surgery, and insecticides. She will require documentation to get to the US, and there is a very good chance that I will have to fly back to Puerto Vallarta and back at least once to pick her up and arrange transport. There is also a chance that I will need to make a cash offer to the family who is abusing her in order to facilitate the adoption. Time is of the essence, since Cooka isn't spayed and I'd like to get her out of her situation before she becomes pregnant again. Here is my current, very rough estimated breakdown:
Round trip from PDX to Puerto Vallarta the weekend of April 21st, including the cost to transport Cooka home in the climate-controlled cargo hold: $800. This date may be subject to change depending on space availability. It may take a few more weeks for me to get there. It will also be doubled if I have to fly down once to get her to the vet, get her well, and then board her for 30 days to meet US requirements before I fly back AGAIN to pick her up. I think I found a loophole for that, so cross your fingers that it will only take one round-trip flight. I may even be able to work with a rescue agency that can put her on a plane without me escorting her, which would be a huge savings.
If I do have to board her, it will be close to $350 for the month.
Rental car and/or taxis to drive this damn dog around while I get her to the veterinarian and airport will be close to $300.
I'd like to get as much medical care done in Mexico as I can for her; it will be much less expensive than doing the bare minimum there and then doing the rest in the states. When I fly down, I won't have a ton of time, though. I've been in touch with some veterinarians and I'm guessing it will be $200-300 to get her dialed in if she doesn't have any major issues. I'm hoping that will also cover a traveling crate, or that an animal rescue can help provide me with one. The good news is that other than too many premature pregancies, Cooka seems young and in ok health.
Aside from being beaten and starving, that is.
I'll also need somewhere to stay while I get this whole show sorted out, but I'm cheap. I'm perfectly fine with somewhere for less than $80 a night, and I'm only suggesting that much because it will have to be a place that lets me keep the dog there with me. There is every chance that my cheap-skate self will find a far cheaper place than that.
Here's a break-down that's a little less wordy:
Round-trip flight to rescue Cooka: $800-900
Rental car/taxis: $300
4 nights in a flea-bag hotel: $320
Veterinary costs: $300
30 days of boarding: $350
Cost to have Cooka shipped to me in a climate controlled cargo hold: $100
Obviously, I realize that coming anywhere close to fundraising these costs is a long shot. I'm doing all I can to find people on the ground there who can help get Cooka to me for far less, but I believe in this dog so deeply that I want to put VIP treatment for her out in the universe for you all to share with people who care.
I am rescuing Cooka on a wing and a prayer. There is a slim chance that she won't make it through customs for some random reason, or a multitude of things that could go wrong along the way. No matter what, it may be a process that could take a couple of months or more. I'm hoping that the force is with me (and her) and she's laying comfortably in a cushy doggie bed in our house some time in April.
I am freakishly tenacious and will stop at almost nothing to save Cooka. I've also teamed up with another animal rescuer who lives in the area so I have every reason to believe that Cooka will find her way to us, but I still feel responsible for providing this disclaimer:
IF IT DOESN'T WORK OUT and you have donated money to Cooka's cause or if rescuing Cooka costs less than I anticipate, all funds raised will be donated to one of several carefully vetted animal rescue organizations in Cooka's area.
I undertstand that not everyone is able to help financialy, but please find it in your heart to share the link to this page on any and all social media platforms you use. If 750 people each give the cost of a latte, Cooka's home free.
During a harrowing flight home, our flight's baggage was delayed (including Cooka) during our two hour layover at SFO. What should have been plenty of time to get through customs/agriculture and board our flight to PDX wasn't. We missed our flight, which was the last of the day. Since Cooka had already been checked and I wasn't on the plane, they took her off, sent her "somewhere" and she was basically lost in the airport. I was literally sprinting from terminal to terminal trying to find her. We were eventually reunited, spent the night in San Francisco, and made it home on the first flight to PDX early this morning. I think I can speak for Cooka when I say that we are both very tired and very, very glad to be home.
We kept Cooka separated from Rosie until they could meet & greet on common ground at the park a bit ago. They got along better than I could have wished and even played together, although Cooka is still keeping her distance when we are inside the house and is stuck to me like glue. I expect that with time they will become polite housemates. Cooka is still protective of her food, which I expected. After all, she's had to fight for every scrap she's ever had.
Josie is in love with Cooka and soooo excited to have a new dog. They are both very loving and gentle with each other. It is sweet to watch.
Cooka still needs some healthcare; her bloodwork in Mexico came back suggestive of a couple of easily treatable tick-born diseases and she will need to head to the vet to be tested for them ASAP, as we did not have time to take care of that in Mexico. Rosie and the rest of the neighborhood dogs aren't at risk because Cooka is flea and tick-free thanks to Bravecto (a wonder drug. seriously. Rosie takes it also). She will also need to be spayed as soon as possible, but I would like a couple of weeks for her health and weight to improve before she has surgery.
All in all, things are going very well. Thank you all so very much for helping make this happen. You've all been amazing.
Cooka comes out of her shell more every day. We are in an armpit city that is far bigger and different than anything she was used to in her rural beach town, but she already leads me back to our house when we go out for long walks during the day. It has been a long trip, I miss my family and friends and we are ready to go home to Cooka's new life.
I am still amazed by everyone's generosity. Thank you all so very much. This dog has a golden heart and is like a sponge who soaks up love and attention. It is heart-wrenching to see all of the other dogs here who are in the same condition, but my heart is full knowing that we're saving one tiny little soul from her nightmare. Big love.
We are so happy for you. What you are doing is beyond kind. Bruce and Tami
Oh!!! Thank you for doing this!!! I pray for a positive outcome, and will be waiting for updates. Thank you, thank you.