A Tropical Cinderella Story

Dear Isabela,

We all hope that a New Year brings a better life. On New Year’s Eve in 2002, you were abandoned in a dumpster in Rinc, Puerto Rico. A kind lady from the Animal Rescue Foundation of Rinc, found you there. She wrapped you in a towel and brought you to her home that evening.

Eleven days later, I was sitting at a beach restaurant in Rinc, watching the waves and surfers. A golden retriever came by and put his head in my lap. He didn’t want anything, just to be petted. The waiter told me that he was a stray. I already had a dog back home in Seattle, a puppy that I had rescued from Belize years before. There was something about this dog that made me decide to take him home with me. I still had weeks of travel around the island scheduled. The waiter promised that he would look after the dog; that people in the local dive shop would keep him until I returned to San Juan. Someone from ARF would arrange to bring this dog to San Juan so that I could take him to Seattle.

The dog never came back to the restaurant. I never saw him again. As I looked for him, a lady from ARF told me the story of how you were found, and that you had been given the name Eve. I kept in touch with ARF by email as I continued on to Vieques. One email had your photograph. When I saw your eyes, I knew that you were going with me to Seattle.

A kind man from ARF drove two hours to bring you to the San Juan Airport. You were skinny, without much fur, and very frightened. You looked at me with those eyes I already knew from the photo. I knew then that you were a very special girl, and that all I wanted to do was to take care of you and love you. I decided to call you Isabela Eve.

You adapted to your life in Seattle, learned Czech and English and grew into the most beautiful, happy dog. You don’t walk, you prance! Everywhere we walk, people notice you and want to pet you. You let them and just smile back. You gave me the idea to visit people in nursing homes. You excelled in the canine pet partner training program and we became a team. Your gentleness and calm demeanor make people feel good. I am always amazed at how much difference your presence makes in a room of old people. How people with dementia, who don’t talk much, open up to you and tell you stories about their childhood, their families and things they don’t tell people. How your 96-year old friend calls: Isabela, come to mama, when you enter her room, wagging your magnificent tail. How you sit on her bed, curled up next to her so she can feel you, since she cannot see you anymore. How you always know which side of the wheelchair is better for the person to touch you. You know how it makes people happy to give you treats that you take ever so gently from their hands.

You make me laugh when I put your rain coat on you. You just freeze and look at me with this very disgusted look, like you were saying: ‘you do NOT expect me to go out in THIS outfit!’ How you like to wade in the water in hot weather but would not go deeper than your stomach! How you lick my face every time I brush you! How you love running on the beach playing with your brother Domingo and before then with Cayes and Diego! How you come to my studio precisely at 7:00 PM, to remind me that it’s time to go down and feed you, now! How you let me know that you don’t like ‘that’ dry dog food we take on our out of town trips! How you insist that I feed you with a fork to make your point at those times!

In the almost nine years, you have brought so much unconditional love to so many people! You brought smiles and laughs to everyone you meet. You grew from a frightened, skinny, hairless pup into the most beautiful, loving, funny, wise and thoughtful best friend! People often try to figure out your breed. They ask: ‘What kind of dog is she?’ You know my answer always is: ‘The BEST!’

I love you Isabela Eve, and always will!
Your partner Vita


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