August 4, 2011

My Little Facundo

by Nicola Kopp

This is the story about Facundo, one of four newborn puppies who lived on the streets of Iquitos with his mother. He didn't have a home or a name, and no one cared about him – until he was rescued by Amazon CARES, and brought to live with his mother and brothers and sisters to CARES’ no-kill shelter in Cabo Lopez. When I arrived in Cabo Lopez, the puppy was still a new arrival and had not yet been named.

I named him Facundo after the beloved Argentinean songwriter, Facundo Cabral, who sang about love and peace on earth. It didn't take long to discover that Facundo was the runt of the litter, growing slower than his brothers and sisters. He always was hungry, and very weak, but his siblings would push him away from his mother when he was trying to nurse. We finally separated him from the rest of the litter to nurse; only then were able to see him eat and begin to grow.

One day as he was nursing, his mother stood up so quickly that Facundo fell down to the wood floor, his tongue still sticking out. His body was rigid; I quickly picked him up and he was unresponsive, his eyes rolling back into his head. I was frantic: Facundo, you cannot die here! He was so small, only the size of my hand, and had his whole life ahead of him. I tried to put his tongue back into his mouth but it wouldn’t work. I put him by his mother, thinking she would be able to revive him, but he remained unmoving, lifeless.

I shouted for Gustavo, my colleague in Cabo Lopez, to come, and gave him my little Facundo. I was praying, Please Gustavo rescue him, quick, quick, he will die! I then called Luis, the clinic veterinarian, who told me to bring the small puppy to the clinic. My heart sank - we both knew that if Gustavo was unable to revive him now, Facundo would be dead long before we got there.

Gustavo put water in the puppy's mouth and breathed, then more air and more water. Facundo began to show signs of life – I knew it! He wanted to live! I was overjoyed to see this sweet little dog’s eyes aware and alert. I hugged Gustavo, so thankful that he was able to revive our baby!

Facundo and I spent the whole weekend in town together. The vet examined Facundo and discovered he had a hole in his skull which could cause problems walking, seeing and hearing. Yet little Facundo showed no symptoms: he came when I called him, walking straight towards me with no hesitation. He was so adorable he would make my heart stop.

Facundo was stronger now, and able to play with his brothers and sisters, barking and defending himself when they are a bit too clumsy or rough. He slept snuggled with a plush toy turtle.

I became very attached to Facundo, and there was nothing I loved better than watching him play and grow. Even though I knew that he would soon have a lovely family of his own, I was sad to think of leaving him when my stay in Iquitos was at an end. When I left, I left a piece of my heart here with him, my own sweet special puppy Facundo.

Epilogue: After Nicola wrote this blog, her beloved Facundo passed away. The genetic defect was too great to overcome, and he leaves behind all of the clinic and volunteer workers who loved him, and admired his indomitable spirit. Vaya con Dios, Facundo; you will be missed.

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