“You wait here,” he said. I’m going to go get her.” Jack took off running. I sat on the concrete stoop of the veterinarian’s office, taking in the scenes of life in a small town just outside of Guadalajara. My son had flown from California and I from Nebraska to savor three precious days enjoying the palm trees, plazas, and pico de gallo of Mexico. We got more than we came for.
In less than a half hour, Jack returned, dripping in sweat and cradling the little listless pup he’d wrapped in my sweater. He laid her on the glass case that would serve as the exam table. The vet shaved a spot of her soft brown hair and poked a needle into her tiny stick of a leg to start an IV. The pup’s eyes did not open.
We were strolling down a quiet tree lined street when we first saw the small dog lying on her side in the burning midday sun, panting heavily. Heat stroke? Injured? She was too weak to drink the water we poured for her.
A group of workmen with wheel barrows stood nearby. With our limited Spanish we got directions to the nearest vet. She had been lying there since ayer —yesterday. We got help. Jack moved her off the hot concrete to a cool place on the ground in the shade.
We were mindful of being seen as arrogant Americans thinking we could or should swoop in and try to rescue every poor perro on the street. That seemed an insufficient excuse for walking away.
Now it was time to make a decision. It would be hours before we would know her condition. “Are you sure you don’t want a puppy?” he asked, looking up at me with his big brown eyes begging. I shook my head slowly.
Should we try to sneak her into our AirBNB back in the city and then try to find another vet to treat her? Then what? Her temperature was slowly moving toward normal–perhaps our driver could find someone on Facebook who would take her?
No matter what we did, she would be back on the streets even if she survived. How could we give her a chance at making it? Relieve her suffering? We concluded that her odds in the small town were better than in a city of four million.
We persuaded the vet to care for her until noon the next day. He promised he would call to let us know how she was doing.
The call came. The message left was in Spanish too fast for our ears. A Columbian man touring the same cathedral as us interpreted. He held the phone to his ear, looking down. “It’s bad news…We did everything we could….She didn’t make it.”
The tears rolled quietly down my face. I was without the courage to look at my tender-hearted child. Knowing we had done what we could did not take away the loss.
“How was your vacation?” people ask.
“Meaningful and memorable,” I reply.
- How does your heart of compassion guide your choices?
- How do you honor the limits of what you can give?
- Can you hold compassion for yourself when you’ve done what you could?