If you have ever been to Puerto Rico, The Caribbean islands, or South America, you have seen first hand how Paradise is tarnished with homeless dogs and cats. They live in the sage brush at the head of the beach; they raise their kittens and their puppies in garbage dumps; they hide under cars; they beg for food at every corner. Tropical heat and hurricanes are only the beginning of the conflicts these animals face. Hunger, fleas, mange, other dogs, people -- after a year in the wild like this, who could imagine that they could possibly be good pets?
Eleven years ago, my lover and I went to an animal shelter in Massachusetts. There was a small dog, a female: one - year old and twenty-seven pounds. Her cage was immaculate, with her water bowl in one corner, a toy in another, and her blankets spread out evenly. The people in the shelter told us that she, along with her eight puppies, had been picked up from a beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She had been hit by a car, and her bone had healed, but one leg was shorter than the other. We named her Zooey, and we soon discovered that we had a feisty dog on our hands: she was not afraid. She would tell any dog, big or small, that she was, and would always be, the alpha female.
Six years later, we adopted a second Puerto Rican dog, a year old, thirty-seven pound yellow lab / golden retriever mix. According to the people at the shelter, he had haunted the strip of outdoor kitchens and grills on the road between the tropical forest of Yunque and San Juan. He had been begging for a scrap or two of food. His fur was full of mange and fleas and, when his hip was shattered by a passing car, the rescuers of All Sato Rescue picked him up. He was limp, near death, but they got him surgery, cleaned his fur, and within a few months, put him on an airplane to Boston, MA. We named him Winston, a brave name for a nervous little dog.
Winston and Zooey soon became Oricito and Rico, the heroes of my book, Rescuing Oricito: The Almost True Story of a South American Street Dog. Along with their friend, Valiente, these three dogs tackle the constant dangers of sea lions, big dogs, rain, hunger, and the most evil of all evil forces, the Man in New Shoes.
I am certainly not alone in being inspired by these dogs. The rescuers of All Sato Rescue have brought literally thousands of these dogs to northeastern United States: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. Every year the shelters in the area celebrate the rescue of these dogs, and hundreds of people come by to say hello, to thank them for their work, and to tell the story again of how their dog was rescued. And the rescuers remember every dog, every rescue, every story, and they are thrilled by every transformation that every family gives to every dog.
Zooey has settled down and Winston has found his courage. They love the snow of New England; they know the trails of the woods near our house; they show their generosity and loyalty every day. The streets of Puerto Rico are part of their shadowy past and English is their language. Under those wounds there are two sweet, funny, feisty, charming dogs, so thankful to be in a family.
Author of "Rescuing Oricito"
Marty Kingsbury is a poet, playwright and English instructor at Urban College of Boston. Her stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S. and Canada and her plays produced throughout the world. Kingsbury earned her Master of Fine Arts in playwriting from Brandeis University, Master of Arts in English from University of Massachusetts Boston and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Heidelberg University. A lifelong animal lover, she and her partner live in Cambridge, Mass. where they share their two rescue dogs.
"Rescuing Oricito: The Almost True Story of a South American Street Dog"
By: Marty Kingsbury
Hardcover retail price: $33.99
Softcover retail price: $14.99
E-book retail price: $3.99