We want to introduce you to the newest member of the Mytanfeet team, Patacon. This happy pup came into our lives at the end of February 2018 and since then he has brought us so much happiness, joy and fun.
We’re planning to expand the blog to include more dog friendly activities, itineraries and tips now that we have Patacon. We have met quite a few people who are in Costa Rica for a few months of the year with their dogs and want more information traveling with their dog in Costa Rica.
But first, let me share with you Patacon’s story. I kind of hate saying we “rescued” Patacon because really, he rescued us.
The First Encounter
It was January 2018 and Yeison and I were driving out of Tamarindo via El Jobo, the unpaved road. We were arguing. I honestly can’t remember about what but we were frustrated and annoyed with each other in the car.
As we sped off towards home in a huff, Yeison all of a sudden slammed the brakes. What now?! I fumed. He got out of the car and started looking around. Help me he said. I glanced at what he was pointing at and saw two dirty pups laying down right smack dab in the middle of the road, not moving at all. All my frustrations disappeared as Yeison and I worked together the next 20 minutes to approach the dogs and get them in the car.
Both pups were very sweet and had no problem with us scooping them up, it was as if they knew we were there to help. I sat with them as we rode home, checking out their fur, teeth and ears. They had absolutely no care whatsoever and looked like street dogs.
As soon as we got back to our apartment, we bathed them with flea and tick shampoo, cleaned their ears, checked for ticks (and killed several), put flea powder on them and fed them a nice big hearty meal. We also cut the nails on the black female. They were so long, some of them were curling back into her paws.
As we cleaned up the dogs, Yeison starting thinking of names. The black one is called chifrijo and the brown one is patacón he announced. (Chifrijo is a Costa Rican bar snack with fried pork, rice, chimichurri and beans. Patacón is a fried smashed plantain). I doubled over in laughter, it was like naming a dog potato chip and fries! But it was kind of cute I have to admit. As we focused on the pups who were being so docile and sweet, all hints of our previous fight were completely gone
We decided to keep Chifrijo and Patacón for the night so we could take them to the clinic tomorrow. They were very calm the whole time so I untied them to put them inside. But as soon as I untied them, they ran off! I don’t know if it’s because they felt so happy with clean fur and full tummies but they sprinted away into the night. I helplessly ran after them but lost them when they got out of the gate.
The next morning, Yeison and I drove back to where we found them in El Jobo but we didn’t see a sign of the dogs at all. All we could do is keep our eyes out and hope they were alright.
Fast forward almost two months…
There’s a Dog Under the Car!
Yeison and I were watching TV one night when all of a sudden he said, there’s a dog under our car. I peered out the door and lo and behold, there was indeed a dog sleeping under the car!
He looks familiar I noticed. That brown fur, pointy ears and long tail. It looked just like the brown dog we helped back in January. But much skinnier. He heard me as I opened the door, wandered over to the yard and plopped down. Sure enough, it was the same dog.
Somehow, he remembered and found us again! We hadn’t seen him at all since that one day and I couldn’t believe he remembered where we lived. I walked over to him, gently stroking his tummy and he was indeed much skinnier than last time.
We fed and bathed him and made a nice bed for him . He wagged his tail and smiled at us and I had a feeling that this time he was going to stay. We kept the name Patacón because he definitely looked like a smashed plantain that night, all skinny flat on the ground and tan!
On the Road to Recovery
We took Patacón to the vet a few days later to find out how his health was. Sadly, despite his happy attitude, smiling face and sweet demeanor, this guy was very anemic and had tick fever. His blood test showed that he had an extremely low white cell blood count, so low the vet was even surprised he still had the stamina he had. He also had a bad hip and left leg, the vet said he might have been hit by a car when he was younger. Patacón had to take antibiotics for 1 month, plus other medicines to help his liver and anemia. He weighed just 12 kilos (26 pounds) for a medium size dog.
And so we began diligently watching him and giving his medicine every single day. Poor guy had to take 3 pills every morning and night and this gross brown liquid stuff. But gradually over the next few weeks, we saw him getting stronger, gaining weight and having more stamina.
I was a bit nervous as I’d never properly fostered a dog 24/7 at home before (I volunteered and worked at veterinarian clinics many times as I was pre-vet in college but never fostered). Luckily, we didn’t have to adjust our lives too much. He is an extremely fast learner. He never peed or pooed in the house, he only ate a couple of my flip flops (and a pair of earbuds) and after that, never again. We found out he has an addiction to running, he absolutely loves it and I have never seen another dog love running like him!
At the end of the month, we took him in for another blood test and all stats came back with flying colors. He gained a few kilos too!
Next, we got him neutered and talked about putting him up for adoption. Our job is to travel and it would be incredibly difficult to have a dog since we are gone for long periods of time. In my heart, I wanted to keep Patacón but when it came to our lifestyle, it just wasn’t the best option for us. So I reluctantly agreed to start looking for a home for him.
But Really, Patacón Stayed in Our Lives
Well, as you know, Patacón never left us. Although Yeison and I both agreed to find him a home, we actually never did. Neither of us reached out to the local vets, neither of us asked around for someone looking to adopt a dog. It was like a silent agreement between the both of us. We consciously cut down our travels immensely last year and found a good doggy day care for when we did need to leave.
Honestly, when I look back, I’m pretty sure we both knew from the day he appeared under our car that this dog dug his way into our hearts and was going to stay. He found a home in us and we found a home in him.
It’s been exactly one year since Patacón came into our lives. He’s now 22 kilos (48 pounds), completely tick fever free, very healthy and happy (and super spoiled). He is still addicted to running and his leg has healed very well. It’s hard to believe that this dog used to limp all the time and had a hard time getting on the couch!
Ever since then, Patacón has been on many adventures with us. We call him our adventure pup because he is seriously down for anything! He’s been on a boat, ATV, stand up paddle board and even a plane as I took him to the US for a couple months (I wrote a helpful guide on how to bring your dog to the US from Costa Rica and vice versa). Everyone, especially my dad, fell in love with the Patacón since they are both love to run.
We watched him learn how to love car rides, learn how to jump on the couch (and now bed), get over his fear of heights and be the very happy dog that he is. It was truly an incredible experience to see him go from a very sick dog to a healthy and happy one. It was pretty funny watching him walk on the sand and play in the waves the first time we took him to the beach.
The love this dog brings is indescribable. He is seriously just so full of love for every person and dog (cats ehhh). He greets everyone with a wagging tail and big smile and he has to say hi to every person and dog. It’s been a ton of fun with this happy pup and he’s been one of the best things that’s ever happened to us in Costa Rica.
We couldn’t be more grateful for Patacón. He has shown us what it’s like to live life to the fullest and to give love to as many people as possible, even if they don’t like you. I’m pretty sure his motto in life is to love everyone! And he loves running so much that we always say to love what you do as much as Patacón loves running!
He has also brought Yeison and I closer together in our home lives. We have been on the road so much the past five years and working so much that we forgot what it’s like to have a normal home life and Patacón has brought us exactly that. I honestly can not imagine our lives in Costa Rica without him! That’s why we tell people that we didn’t rescue Patacón, he rescued us.
And like any good dog owner in this day and age, we started an Instagram for him!
If You Want to Help the Street Dogs of Costa Rica
Sadly, many locals look down on street dogs in Costa Rica (zaguates, as they are called here) because they’re not pure bred, the “super cute fluffy small” dog and not seen as pets. Whenever we take Patacón for walks, a lot of locals throw him looks of disgust and even run away from him but we don’t care. To us, he is an incredibly beautiful soul that’s full of love and joy and all it takes is ten seconds to fall in love with him. And even though we joke he is ugly, he is adorable! Every dog, no matter what they look like or where they came from, deserve a good loving home and many organizations in Costa Rica are trying to teach this to the locals. Patacón is a prime example that street dogs make amazing pets and we will also adopt from now on.
We know that not everyone can adopt a dog but if you’d like to help the street dogs of Costa Rica, there are many ways to. You may have heard of Territorio de Zaguates, the largest no kill dog shelter in the world. You can send donations and supplies to their dog sanctuary to help them out as they have over 1000 dogs at a time.
There are also smaller dog rescue centers owned and operated privately. The Costa Rica Dog Rescue & Adoption in La Fortuna and Barbara’s Animal Rescue Center in Potrero/Brasilito are two of them. You can visit the Costa Rica Dog Rescue & Adoption to volunteer.
You can also find your local shelter to volunteer, adopt or donate. There are stray dogs everywhere in this world who need a good home.