Today is a very special day for our family, today we celebrate one year with Luna, the dog that was given to us by an extremely dedicated group of volunteers all working with CANDi International, including local photographer Tracey Buyce. When Tracey was in Cancun volunteering for a spay and neuter clinic for CANDi International she saw Luna in a yard, dying. She was starving to death, and suffering from a treatable form of cancer. Tracey begged Luna's owner to give her up so she could be saved, and after much pleading they relented and handed Luna over. Luna was so weak Tracey carried her the two miles back to the clinic so she could be treated. The doctors there told her that if Luna had not been rescued, she would most likely have died within a week. It was this photo that made me want to adopt Luna, I just saw something in that face that made me want to help her, to want to make her feel safe and loved.
At the clinic, Luna was treated by veterinarian and humane partner, Arturo Di. Arturo donated his time and monetary donations covered Luna's 6 weeks of chemotherapy for the treatment of her TVT cancer. TVT is the sexually transmitted disease that also causes cancer in dogs. TVT is unfortunately very common in Mexico and is spread through over breeding, hence CANDi's spay and neuter clinic.
Before she could fly up north to us, she spent time with Hector Navarro, who is on the board of directors with CANDi International and his wife Carla Cabrera, both diehard animal lovers who have rescued many animals and understand the desperate need for spay and neuter clinics. It was difficult for Hector and Carla to say goodbye to Luna, and it was Hector who made the trip with her to NY.
Last year on March 18th was when we all traveled as a family to Albany Airport to meet Luna for the first time. I have to admit, I was nervous. I had seen a ton of photos, and I was 100% committed to making it work for Luna no matter what, but I still had my reservations. Would she get along well with the kids? Would she like living with us? She had been through so much, I just wanted her to feel loved. We put some plans in place though, just in case she didn't get along well with the kids, to make sure she would find a safe and loving home no matter what.
She was so quiet that day when we picked her up, sad no doubt to be leaving Hector, and it was emotional for all of us to see them say goodbye. We drove home that day with Luna sitting on my lap, sleeping quietly, all of us filled with excitement but also full of nervous thoughts, our fingers crossed that it would work out for her.
In the year that has passed Luna has changed dramatically. She put on a healthy amount of weight, and her blonde fur came in smoother and thicker than when she had arrived. She became more comfortable around Hunter, our chocolate lab, and now the two of them are best buddies. She waits for him when they go outside, and often during the day you can catch them playing with each other, Hunter lying on the floor while Luna hops around him. That's her favorite thing to do, hop. She hops around when she's happy, when she comes back inside from a walk or when she's getting ready for a walk. She hops around when we arrive back home and she hops around when you have a treat for her. Her happiness is contagious, and it's hard not to smile when you see this little dog boinging around the house with joy over the prospect of getting a Milk Bone.
She has definitely turned into a big food hound, and will sneak under the dining room table at all meals, patiently awaiting the inevitable scraps that fall on the floor when three kids are eating (and a few that I will slip to her on the sly). She loves finding patches of sunlight to snooze in, and is fond of naps, snoring away curled up into a little ball. She does have her quirks as well. She won't go up the staircase that goes to the second floor no matter what, it's just not her thing. And for mealtimes she does not like to leave the hallway rug that leads to the kitchen. She will wait right there on the edge of the rug till you push her dish close enough so she can eat it without going on the tile floor of the kitchen.
Mostly, she is just the most loving little dog. Her small face will fit right into your hand, and she will carefully snuggle up on your lap so you can pet her. She loves to give kisses, and she is working diligently at being able to catch her treats in her mouth like Hunter can. Although she feels very comfortable around all of us, she is more partial to the females in the family, and will usually perch herself on my lap while I work during the day, and by far Levy is her favorite member of our family. If the whole family is outside and you want to find Luna just find Levy and there Luna will be, hopping happily around her. Levy has decided she wants to be an "animal doctor" so she can help save animals like Luna that are in pain but can be saved with a little help.
She is part of our little clan now, and you can tell she feels like she belongs. She hikes with us, takes walks with us, snuggles up on the couch with us, eats with us and barks protectively at those pesky neighbors that dare to walk past the house walking other dogs.
Our part was easy. We got to welcome an awesome little doggie into our family and love her. The hard part is done by the volunteers and groups like CANDi. Every single day I am reminded that Luna is here because of the compassion of other people, and that means the world to me. Tracey doesn't like to take too much credit, but if it wasn't for her pleading with Luna's owner to let her go, she wouldn't be here right now, bringing so much joy to our family. If it wasn't for CANDi International countless animals would have to die and suffer needlessly. People like Hector and Carla and Arturo all see the value in one person helping to make a difference, they can see the power of compassion and the impact that it can have on people's lives. Luna is just one little dog, but she is one of so many that need homes, that need the compassion of one person, of one family.
To find out more about the great work that CANDi International does and how just a small donation can help save lives like Luna's, click here. Just $20 can spay or neuter a dog. To read more about adopting a rescue or shelter dog locally in the Saratoga area including tips on how to make it successful for everyone, click here. To follow Luna's story, click here.