The Dogs (and cats) of Ojochal

Reprint:  Originally published October, 2012

From time to time I reprint blogs originally written for a limited audience.  This episode is reprinted as part of the “On Being Human,” series.  Hope you enjoy!


Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Sunday, October 21, 2012

He followed the car up our road – some would call it a driveway – to the casa.

We had been invited by our neighbor, Karine, to come up and see their view.  They run a true Indonesian Restaurant which includes an outdoor dining area serving both as their living room and the restaurant.

Going up their driveway – yes, they have a real driveway – their large, part golden retriever walked by Karine’s side keeping Mona and I in his sight. “He’s a really good dog,” Karine offered, then quickly added, “but he’s also a guard dog.  We moved here from Belgium five years ago and he showed up in the first week.  He adopted us immediately,”  she said, affectionately scratching his ear.  “Happens a lot around here.”

When we got up to the house, the dog approached Mona allowing her to scratch his neck.  He didn’t bother with me.  Just as well.  He barks at night and I can’t stand barking dogs, except for our dog, Charlie, of course.

Before walking up with Karine, Mona and I had seen seen a laborer, Ricardo,who was doing some work for us, go by in his car, turn left and head up our road.  He was working to  redo a part of our steps to create better traction for us.  Both Mona and I had slipped and fallen going down these tile steps when it was raining and we’ve had enough of that.  We were anxious to get back and see his progress, so we bid adieu to Karine and her husband, Mac, and headed back home.


“He just followed me up the driveway,” Ricardo laughed.  Ricardo has great control of the English language, having helped the neighbor above us build two houses in the area.  Ronald, our neighbor, whom we have never met, and his wife live directly above us in a huge house that Ronald and Ricardo built.  He and his wife live alone in this 6000 sq. foot home along with their three dogs – but that’s another story.

“Ah, who followed you here”?  I asked Ricardo.  “Shoo, shoo, off the porch,” Ricardo yelled and a black blur ran off the porch.  “That perro,” Ricardo laughed.  “He likes it here!”  “Well,” I said, in my sternest voice,  “when you leave, he’d better leave with you!”  Ricardo laughed again, “Si Señor!”


At the end of the day Ricardo and his apprentice left.  Much to my delight, the dog followed his car down our road.  I went into the house to make myself a drink and started to carry my drink to the porch.  It was time to watch the sunset.  I stopped because I thought I heard Mona talking to someone.

“It’s OK, boy.  I’ll just go get some water for you! ”

The dog had returned.

“Mona, I screamed, don’t!”

“Don’t what,” she replied.  “I’m just getting the poor creature some water,”

“You can’t do that!”  I was pleading now.  You give that dog water and he’s not going to leave.”

“I’m not going to stand by and watch an animal suffer,”  she hissed.

For the first time I looked at the dog.  He was pitiful.  Like many of the dogs we have seen on the road, he was skeletal thin, his eyes clearly showing the pain of his existence.  His body was filled with sores and he smelled worse than anything I have ever experienced.  We would later discover why.

“We’re not going to have that dog here,” I stated emphatically.

“OK, but I am going to feed and water him.  There’s some kind of pet protectors group in Uvita.  We can check there to see if they will take him, Mona said, firmly.

I hate it when I know I’ve lost!  I hate it even more when I know Mona’s doing the right thing.  I hate it even more when I remember I had just written in my blog how important it is to respect all living things.

So, the next morning, off to Uvita we go, me hoping that when we return the dog’s gone.  Turns out that pet protectors is headed by the local veterinarian.  She voluntarily accepts strays, treats their maladies, and helps locate new homes for them.

“She’s not here this week,”  the volunteer told Mona.  I was sitting in the car moping.  “Would you be willing to care for him and feed him for a week and we’ll check to see if she has some space open.”

“We’d be glad to,” Mona replied.

Soon, we’re at the super marketo, buying food for our friends the  Tennison’s s visit next week – and, of course, buying dog food.

We return to our casa, me hoping against hope, the dog has gone on.  Perro came off the porch to greet us delighted to welcome us back home.


It is Sunday.  Mona is napping, I’m writing in my blog.  Perro is asleep on the porch.

“Nuff for now.”

Que La Paz Prevalezca en la Tierra! May Peace Prevail on Earth!


Ojochal OSA Puntarenas Costa Rica

Ojochal OSA