Heart on my sleeve

I’ve always prided myself on thinking with my head, and not with my heart. I’ve always tried to be pretty rational and think decisions all the way through.

Yesterday I came out of my Portugese class and crossed the road to the bus stop. There I found this tiny, tiny black and white puppy who was shivering at the base of a tree. A little man owns a kiosk and he sells candy, chips, soda, etc, and I asked him if he knew about the dog. He told me that earlier that day, people came by and dropped off 5 little puppies. All of them had already been taken (to be adopted) except for the little guy who was shivering. It was cold out, he just lost all of his brothers and sisters, and didn’t know where his mom was.

While I stood there with the little pup, the bus that I needed to go home went past three times. I just physically could not bring myself to walk away from the dog. I picked him up and he nestled his head in my scarf and finally stopped shaking. Some girls came by and bought some shortbread like cookies. They crumbled the cookies up and put them in a cardboard box on the ground… I put him in the box he scarfed them down. He was hungry. 

Time just kind of started to freeze then, as my mind was racing. I have to save him. I can’t take him. I have to travel for Rotary. I don’t even know if I can have dogs in my apartment. He’s so scared and alone. All his brothers and sisters are gone. No one else is going to take him because he looks sick. He’s going to die here tonight. I have to do something. This is crazy. I can’t have a dog. But I miss my dogs at home so much (shout-out to Roxie, Blitzen, and Twiggy!). But it’s going to be so hard to take him back to the US. I can’t do this. He’s going to die if I don’t take him. 

I asked the man working, “So I can take this dog?”

“Yes, of course.”

Just then a taxi drove past. I didn’t even think, I just put my arm out to hail it. He stopped.

“Can I take this dog.”

“Claaaaaro!” (of course)

The whole ride home he was shaking in my arms, terrified. I got to my apartment during siesta time so my doorman wasn’t working. Excellent. We got to my apartment and I put three little bowls out on my kitchen floor for him. Water, some broken up crackers, and milk. Not sure if puppies should drink normal milk but oh well. 

He started lapping up the milk so quickly. I found a fleece blanket that I had bought for like $8 here, and later realized it was far to small to even cover my legs. Perfect for a pup. 

I put the blanket in the corner of my kitchen and put a chair over it, so it would be a little more cozy and he would feel more protected. He immediately snuggled into the blanket and fell asleep. 

I frantically texted my mom, my sister, Brittany, and posted on Facbeook. What had I done? I had a dog in my apartment. 

I figured out how to block my dog in the kitchen (with my massive suitcases — I knew there was a reason I packed so much), and I headed out to find a vet. I had a vague memory of passing a vet near my apartment and sure enough, it was right where I thought it was, 1.5 blocks away from my apartment. I love my spatial memory. 

I went in and just frantically blurted out something in rapid Spanish. I don’t even know what I said to the guy. I just was desperate for someone here to look at this dog and help me. He said I could bring him in for a visit for 50 pesos (less than $10). Phew. I went home, got the dog, put him in my big vera bradley bag with the blanket, and set out. 

When I got back to the vet, a girl was there with her dad… their dog had gotten attacked by another dog. My mind started racing again. What if my dog gets attacked? What am I going to do? The girl came out to the waiting room and started petting my dog. How old is it? No idea. What’s its name? No idea. What kind of dog is it? No idea. 

Finally it was my turn. I went in and saw the vet’s diploma from vet school on the wall. At least he seems legit, right? 

He looked at my dog’s teeth, checked out his eyes, and felt the glands by his neck. He looked worried. “Your dog is sick. It might have ‘moquillo’.” 

WTF is moquillo? Ugh, damn Spanish words that I don’t know. 

I gave him a blank stare and he, without asking where I was from, said “In some places its called Distemper.” Ahhh. I had heard of Distemper. I didn’t know what it was though. He told me that if the dog has Distemper it is going to die. Woah. They don’t put things lightly here, do they? 

He talked about the prognosis and what I needed to do and honestly, I don’t know if I understood any of it. I was just hyped up on adrenaline or something and was freaking out. 

I bought a leash and a collar and took him home. Well, tried to. He was too terrified to walk on the sidewalk so back in my Vera Bradley bag he went. 

I stopped twice to try to get him to go potty but to no avail. Of course, the second we walk into my apartment he pees. And a minute later, he poops. Diharrea. 

What’s that… it looks like he has spaghetti in his poop.

Oh God, he must have worms. Is that what worms look like?

What’s Distemper? 

I started to Google (After putting the poop in a baggie of course… lots of trips to the vet in America taught me that’s always a good idea) Distemper.

It’s a horrible, horrible disease. 

I went back to the vet early this morning, again stealthily avoiding my doorman. He looked him over and said he still doesn’t know if he has Distemper or not, it might just be a parasite. 

On my way back into the building, I knew I had to say something to my doorman. I couldn’t keep it a secret much longer. 

I told him what happened. I told him he was sick. I asked if I could keep him in my apartment. He said no. No. 




I literally just burst into tears in the entryway to my apartment, in front of my doorman. This tiny precious dog was just abandoned, separated from his entire family, and is finally starting to be okay and potentially recover. 


My doorman agreed to let me keep the dog in my apartment for a few days, until I find a home and he gets better. 

Through tears, I sent messages to a couple of the animal rights groups here in Salta explaining my situation. I can’t keep him. I got a kind, kind response from one of the groups. 

She said:

I congratulate you on your courage for taking him in and taking him to the vet and not leaving him to his fate. As he’s already being treated for something we can’t offer him for adoption right now, he has to recuperate. But if you can bring him to Parque San Martin on Sunday we meet there to adopt dogs, if you come by the dog can be treated by the vet that we have in the park to give a second opinion. A hug and again my congrats on your solidarity with this little defenseless dog and remember that when goodwill exists, all of the resources and everything you need is put within reach.

Of course I started sobbing again. These days, I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve. This little pup needs a home where he can be cared for and recover. It just can’t be my home. 




  1. On your sleave is the best place for your heart to be. You did the right thing and the little dog is safe and hopefully will get better because of you! I am always so proud of your the wonderful woman you have become and prouder today for your act of kindness.

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