One day in September 2012, an adorable, sweet little street dog living in the cloud forest of Costa Rica found us sitting outside our hostel in Santa Elena. Over the next few days, the little dude followed us everywhere we went. We were especially amazed when he came with us on a super long walk we took around the area, trying to find a big old hollowed-out tree in the middle of the forest. More than just company, he was actually kind of a guide dog. He nudged our ankles when we didn't hear cars coming around the bend, he tugged at our pant legs when we were about to take the wrong road and get totally lost, and he led us directly to the hollowed out tree, as if he knew where we wanted to go. Obviously, we gave him treats, because that's one adorable dog right there. But he pretty soon stopped accepting them, as if to try and convey that he wasn't in it for food, just for us.
Poncho Wigglesworth, as we have since called him, was loved by everyone in town. They told us his story. Already once, this little dog had been adopted by a family. After caring for him for awhile, they returned to their home country, and left him out on the streets, where he had been sleeping for the last 6 months. When we asked the folks in town what they thought about him getting adopted a second time, this one for good, everyone was incredibly supportive. Even though he was doing relatively well, in that he had food from kind hostel owners and a safe place to hang around, they said that street dogs in Costa Rica don't last long. They get hit by cars or beaten or poisoned by black hearted people. It would've just been a matter of time for Pancho.
So, we took him back to San Jose, got him the last seat on his plane, and scheduled him to see a vet. That's when the bad news started coming in. The vet took one look at his leg and said he'd already been hit by a car. His hip and his knee had been knocked out of place, and never got back in. He had nothing between his knee bones and they constantly popped out of joint, as did his hip that never healed. Because of that, his back was getting weak and bent. He needed life-saving surgery on his leg in two places. If he didn't get it, his back would eventually snap because of the nature of the injury. He had been, the vet said, undeniably in constant pain. We were surprised to hear it, because although he had a limp, he never let on that he was in pain, and never whined, ever. To make matters worse, the vet diagnosed Pancho with lyme disease a few days later. His platet count was so low he couldn't proceed with the surgery.
Of course, the cost of the surgery is not cheap. It's $850 to take care of his knee and hip and ensure that instead of becoming paralyzed, he has a chance to live a full, happy, and healthy life. It's another $250 to take care of his medications for the lyme disease and his exams. We balked at the price tag, because we are living on a tight budget these days. But, after everything we had done to remove him from his life in Monteverde, we decided we couldn't let this stop us. In part, it's because we know we have so many amazing creature-loving people in our lives. We knew that collectively, we could help give Pancho a second chance, and we were right. In just a few days, our awesome friends and family donated almost half of the cost of Pancho's surgery! Johnny got a second job to cover the rest.
As of today (Nov. 26) Pancho is doing well. He's gone through the worst of the lyme disease treatment like the champ that he is. His operation is scheduled for October 3rd, and we are anxiously waiting for the moment we can bring him back to Florida in full health.
Thank you to everyone who has helped out so far! We are incredibly grateful.
UPDATE ****** OCTOBER 3
Pancho's surgery is delayed because of an emergency with the doctor. We are keeping fingers crossed.
UPDATE****** OCTOBER 4
Pancho's surgery was a great success!! Apparently, the vet had to do more work than anticipated but Pancho is expected to make a full recovery!!
UPDATE****** OCTOBER 17
Check out the new picture that we just got today! Pancho is scheduled to coming to Florida on Friday with Johnny's aunt. We are super super stoked. Milo will have a new brother and Pancho will be the coolest dog around!
UPDATE***** NOVEMBER 4
Pancho is loving his new home in Florida. He and Milo are best buds and spends most of the day laying on comfortable couches, playing in the yard, and finding new ways to get treats from us. His leg is healing up nicely. We went to the vet with him last week and he got some pain killers, which really seemed to help. He's now using his leg more every day and we do physical therapy exercises to help get him back to normal. He doesn't seem too bothered by his three-legged status though, and has quickly set himself up as the head pup in the house. It's absolutely adorable and we are so beyond thankful to everyone who helped us get him to his new forever home!