This time last week I was sitting at my desk, checking items off a mental list running in my head. Leash? Check. Winter dog coat? Check. Treats? Check. I texted Sean to make sure he would be home in time to get to the airport, I chatted with Tracey to make sure we would meet her on time, I was as prepared as we could possibly be. But I was still nervous. Running alongside all of those items on my mental checklist were numerous concerns and anxieties, they would pop up and push aside all the planning and excitement and cast a little dark cloud on everything. What if Luna didn't like the kids? What if Jack was too rough with her, pulling her ears and tail? What if Hunter (our chocolate Lab) didn't get along with her? It was hard to imagine since Hunter is the biggest sweetheart, but I was still worried. It was all of these worries and concerns that had kept me from getting another dog since my beloved Lucy passed away last year. All of these reasons, and excuses, made me wait. But when I saw that photo of Luna that local photographer Tracey Buyce took, for some reason I knew she belonged here, with us.
Tracey was in Cancun, Mexico volunteering for CANDi, Cats and Dogs International, at a spay and neuter clinic when she found Luna. CANDi is a nonprofit organization in both the US and Canada whose mission is to promote the humane treatment of animals through tourism and they aim to bring together the might of the tourism industry with compassionate travelers and locals who to help animals through free spay/neuter, medical care, and direct animal rescue in cases of extreme need. CANDi's efforts to date have been focused in the communities surrounding Cancun Mexico, where they have provided nine free spay/neuter clinics, which have sterilized nearly 10,000 animals, both owned and stray. During one of these clinics Tracey found Luna in someone's yard, starving and sick, and begged Luna's owners to give her up so she could get treatment. Through some humane partners on the ground there they found a vet that was willing to take her. Arturo, the vet, diagnosed Luna with cancer and starvation. He said if she had not been rescued, Luna would have been dead within a week. Tracey reached out through facebook asking for donations for Luna's care and she raised about $700 for her treatment, and Luna stayed at Arturo's clinic for about six weeks. Tracey also reached out to Hector Navarro, who fostered Luna in Cancun for three weeks with his wife Carla Cabrera, who then brought Luna from Cancun to New York.
The weeks leading up to Luna's arrival seemed to fly by, and then all of a sudden there we were at Albany Airport, holding up "Welcome Home Luna" signs and waiting for her to be brought out. Before Luna came out we got to finally meet Hector in person. Hector and Luna shared a quiet moment together, with Hector knowing that this was the end of his part of Luna's journey. To see her go from that sick, starving little doggie to this happy, healthier girl, I can't imagine how hard it was for him to let her go. We all cried as he kissed her head, Luna not wanting to leave his side.
It was an emotional reunion for Tracey and Luna. The last time Tracey had seen her Luna was skin and bones, dirty, starving, and ill. Tracey wondered if Luna would remember her, and she was the one to open Luna's crate and take her out, we all cried when she got to hold her again for the first time, and Luna clearly remembered her.
Luna had quite the welcome committee at the airport, in addition to Tracey and Hector and my family, she also had some new friends, Ashley and Kelly, two dog lovers who had been following her story on facebook. Check out their Putt for Pups page, a golf tournament and dinner to raise money for CANDi International and Homeward Bound Dog Rescue happening in June (Luna will be there!).
Finally, it was time to head home, and I carried Luna out in my arms and got her settled on my lap for the drive home. I wanted more than anything for her to feel comfortable and safe, and she quickly fell asleep in my arms with her little face cradled in my hand.
That night she was glued to my side, following me around the house. If I got up to go into the kitchen, Luna got up and followed me. She followed me into the bathroom when I took a shower and fell asleep on my sweater on the floor. We bonded. She slept next to me in bed that night, and has every night since. She's still attached to me, she likes sitting on my lap while I work, but she is definitely more comfortable now with everyone in the family. Levy, in particular, is fully in love with Luna. She is her first thought in the morning, she takes her out on the leash in our backyard and gets her little meals ready for her. She loves giving her treats and sitting next to her on the couch, bringing her little blankies and toys. Finn loves playing with Luna and Hunter, getting them going throwing tennis balls in the snow in the backyard, running around with the two of them till all three are tired out. We have successfully taught baby Jack to be gentle with Luna and he'll go over and carefully stroke her little back, and she, in turn, is very gentle with all three kids.
Luna and Hunter, our chocolate Lab, have gotten along great as well. At first Luna wasn't sure about Hunter, and if he got too close she would growl and bare her little teeth, and Hunter heard her loud and clear and gave her plenty of space. On Day Two though she started to warm up, and she took over his dog bed for a few days. They've become good pals now though, and will regularly line up together whenever food is around, and they seem to be in it together whenever there is a possibility for a treat. Their food bowls are right next to each other and they eat their meals together, no growling at all anymore. Luna has given Hunter his bed back and has instead made her daytime nap place the top of our couch, which has a nice dose of sunshine coming through the window. She spends her days going for walks, barking at the garbage truck, snagging the last bits of sandwiches, getting plenty of rubs and pettings and more than enough kisses.
We as a family are so grateful for CANDi, Tracey, Arturo, Hector and everyone else that has helped to bring Luna here to our family. I want to make Luna a voice for animals that are in need, and to help bring awareness for the great work that CANDi does. CANDi operates with extremely low overhead, and it costs only $25 to spay or neuter an animal (compared with many US-based clinics requiring $50-100 per animal). Each clinic costs $15,000 which allows us to sterilize over 1000 animals. Individuals who are interested in helping can make a donation online, contribute in-kind items such as blankets and medical supplies, become a volunteer, and tell others, click right here to see how you can get involved.
Follow Luna's journey here on facebook, and here on the site as well, where I will be posting regular updates of Luna's progress as part of our family. Thank you to everyone for all of your kind words and support of Luna already, it is so touching to see how much everyone cares for this little doggie. Tracey and I are going to be putting together some fundraising opportunities where Luna will get out and meet everyone. I can't tell you how sweet this little doggie is, we just love her so much already and I know you will too. xoxo