Some dogs get more than a second chance

This is certainly the time of year for being thankful, and thoughtful, and so grateful for having unconditional love (especially of the four-legged variety). For that reason I want to share this story from Erika Flores and Joaquin de la Torre at IFAW’s project in Cozumel, Mexico.  This story -  of a little brown dog named Pistache -  truly reminded me of what gratitude means this time of year.

Pistache was found this past July under a taxi in the southern part of Cozumel Island. Dirty and skinny and trying to escape the blazing summer heat, she was found by a volunteer of the IFAW-supported Humane Society of Cozumel (HSC).  After talking to the Taxi drivers, the volunteer discovered Pistache had been huddling under cars for three full days. No one had been feeding her or paying any attention to her, and it was clear that no one had really cared about her at all.

Pistache seemed happy to finally see a friendly face and was slowly coaxed out from under the car with some bits of kibble and a few kind words.  She was taken to the HSC where she was given plenty of food and love.  She was spayed and vaccinated and during the several months she was there, she made friends with some of the other dogs and cats.  Many of these animals had stories similar to little Pistache -  like Juanita, who had a long scar around her neck because someone had tied her so tight with a rope that it had torn into her flesh. The rope wound had caused an infection, but HSC had also offered her a place to recover. 

Two months after Pistache arrived, a group of American women on vacation in Cozumel were moved by the plight of the animals there and wanted to help the dogs and cats in some special way. They decided to visit the local shelter and when one of these ladies, Natalie Garcia, met little Pistache, she offered to take her home to Los Angeles and foster her until a permanent home could be found.

Natalie flew home and Pistache took her own flight ( with several other Cozumel dogs) a few days later.  She was certainly happy to see Natalie again and was finally able to meet Natalie’s other dog, a blue heeler/sheltie mix named Maggie. The two dogs loved each other and spent their time sharing everything - from beach walks to sofa naps. They became a little family.

But this past November 2nd , Natalie, Pistache, and Maggie were enjoying a car ride on San Clemente’s I-5 when everything changed. A terrible car accident left Natalie’s silver VW Bug turned completely upside down in the middle of the highway, the front end smashed and all of the windows knocked out.  Terrified, with cars still whizzing past, Pistache and Maggie jumped from the car and ran from the scene.  Injured from the accident, Natalie was helpless to run after her dogs and they were soon gone.  

Natalie did everything she could do find Maggie and Pistache. Posters went up everywhere and even the local newspaper picked up their story.  As if the tragedy of the accident weren’t enough, Pistache and Maggie were no where to be found.

But several days later, a Good Samaritan in Natalie’s community was driving home when she saw something that looked like a little fox dart through a grocery store parking lot.  She remembered reading about Maggie and Pistache and called Natalie right away. Natalie rushed to the location and as she was setting up traps and scented clothing, little Pistache came climbing up the hill of a nearby park.  Other than some wear and tear on her paws, the lucky pup was in good shape. A local newspaper, The Orange County Register, reported that when  Natalie’s partner picked up Pistache she was almost in shock at the good fortune. “I’ve got her?” She said. It truly seemed miraculous.

So when Natalie received another tip a few days later about Maggie being near a set of train tracks, it seemed like good fortune was in store yet again.  But when Natalie arrived at the location described by the caller, she found only remains. Maggie, her dog of seven years, had been hit by a passing train and killed.  

The loss has, without a doubt, been difficult for Natalie.  As she told The Orange County Register, “She was here for the seven years in my life to bring me closer to people.  Maggie was just a little angel who was supposed to be here for that short time.”

Natalie wasted no time in officially adopting Pistache, promising to offer her a home forever. Though there is nothing that can replace the loss of a beloved friend, I know Pistache is lucky to have Natalie and I hope they’ve found solace in each other through this difficult time. This little dog from Cozumel has certainly proven herself to be a survivor and  proof that there truly are second ( and even third!) chances in this world.

 “Tell your dogs you appreciate them, every day,” Natalie told a local newspaper.  And that is certainly the sentiment I take away from this story.  Animals like Pistache have been so fortunate to receive the care and compassion of organizations like IFAW and the Humane Society of Cozumel, and certainly of people like Natalie.  But we, without a doubt, are lucky to have them too.

More details and photos are available through the following articles published by The Orange County Register :

For more information about IFAW’s work to save companion animals around the world, or to donate to projects like the one which gave Pistache her second chance, please visit

Comments: 1

7 years ago

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joaquin de la Torre, Humane Cozumel. Humane Cozumel said: You must read this story from @action4ifaw about what happened to our little Pistache who was adopted by Natalie [...]

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