Last night I stood on a balcony overlooking the tarmac at the Arequipa airport and watched as Adam and our new dog Sincola (Cinco) boarded a plane for SFO, via Lima. I was crying uncontrollably for a few reasons. One being that I was very proud to have successfully weeded through all of the paperwork and confusion of international pet travel in order to give this sweet street dog from Cabanaconde a new life. Another being that I realized I’d now have to buy my own dinners for the rest of my trip.
We first met Sincola (sin = without; cola = tail) at the base of the Colca Canyon, in a place called the Oasis/Sangalle. He was far too thin, with protruding rib and hip bones, but yet did not blatantly beg for food. Adam and I both fell head over heels after playing with him in the dark after dinner. He was so gentle, yet playful, and when he laid down to let me rub his belly, he closed his eyes and soaked it in as if no one had ever touched him like that before. We had to dognap him.
My use of the word dognap is not entirely accurate given that Cinco clearly did not have a home. We asked various guides and locals if he had a family, and they all responded “no,” that he was “free.” This would be fine and dandy if it weren’t for the fact that he was underfed and the condition of most of the “free” dogs in Cabanaconde left a lot to be desired. We even encountered a severed dog’s head sitting in the middle of a road through town, proving just how harsh the streets could be for the 4-legged population. We were also told that some locals believe that by cutting of a puppy’s tail the dog will not contract rabies. News flash: false. Poor buddy.
The road to dognapping Cinco was not simple. We had to leave him in Cabanaconde in order to sort out paperwork details back in Arequipa. As we researched researched researched, we found dozens of conflicting “official” websites and documents, each making the international dog adoption process seem even more out of reach. Ultimately, however, we decided that Cinco was worth the money, time (I may have to stay in Peru for a few weeks until he’s able to leave the country), and energy that it would take to bring him back to the US. So, after completing the Inca Trail, we rented a car in Cusco, drove 11.5 hours of mostly dirt roads to the Colca Canyon, hiked 2 hours straight down, FOUND HIM, hiked 3 hours straight up, threw him in a car for the 5 hour return journey to Arequipa (where he threw up twice), dropped him off a reputable vet that didn’t speak a word of English, bought an extremely overpriced crate (550 soles), found a hostel that would let us have a dog, made arrangements with the airlines, were sent on a wild goose document chase at Peru’s agricultural department (he threw up in the taxi on the way there, too… shh!), got all 50,000 documents in place, and placed him on two planes to a better life. Never before has my career/skillset as a production manager been so helpful in my personal life. I’m exhausted.
Cinco and Adam will be arriving at SFO in the next hour. From there, he will spend countless hours gaining weight, being socialized, learning to not scavenge the garbage for food, attending doggie daycare, NOT chasing my dear Dixie cat around the house, taking obedience and agility classes, and being loved on like he has always deserved. I cannot wait for our reunion in December.