My life in the Dominican Republic had a major change in March 2020.  My husband and love of my life passed away.  I was also extremely ill with a Lupus flare and COVID at the time he died.  I was in hospital and wasn’t with him.  Doctors were trying their best to save me and in hindsight, realized that I also had COVID.  Testing wasn’t available at that time as this was very early in the pandemic.

So, with the help of family who came from Canada, and friends, I had to circumnavigate my way through the death process in this country.  Customs and traditions are much different when dealing with death.  Burials must happen quickly as there is no embalming or proper cold storage of the body.

To say that I was grieving would be a massive understatement.  I was in a very, very deep, and dark depression and struggling with “Widow Fog”.  Yes, widow fog is a very real thing.  It took weeks before I could manage everyday tasks like walking, showering, reading, cooking food.  I was so grateful to have the help of my youngest daughter who was my primary caregiver.

This is Rose’s story of how a little dog changed my life.

Rose came into my life in March 2021.  I had dogs, I didn’t want more dogs nor need more dogs.  I was still reeling from having to part with so many (especially Ebony) of my dogs when Ross died. It was a terribly hard decision to make, and I still regret rehoming Ebony.  Every. Single. Day.

I was severely depressed.  I was in a very, very dark place.  So much had happened that was beyond my control.  I was struggling to cope with even getting dressed and eating.  I was on auto-pilot; working, sleeping was about all I could manage and not very well at that.  My oomph was gone.  Completely.

I had borrowed a car from a friend to drive myself to Puerto Plata for a doctor appointment.  This was my first time driving in well over a year.  I was pretty pleased with myself:  doctor, shopping.  I was out, alone for the first time in over a year, and it felt good.

On my way home with my shopping, I was driving up our community road and saw a very small dog running on the road.  My first thought was “Gosh that dog is small and it’s going to get hit by a car.  It must have gotten out of someone’s yard, and they will be missing the dog.”  I carried on, took my shopping home and then proceeded to return my friend’s car.  Coming back down the road, I saw the little dog again, closer to home but still running on the road.

When I returned home, my daughter and I were putting everything away and my dogs were going crazy barking.  I was sure there was someone doing something in the neighbour’s yard.  We went to investigate.  Wow, this little dog had found her way into the yard and was cowering in a corner – terrified.  I went and grabbed a towel so we could pick this little, dirty, covered in poop girl and bring her in the house.  She promptly got a bath and was fed.  We put her in the bathroom with soft towels and let her rest and calm down.

Next day, we discovered that she had absolutely no bladder control or bowel control.  We took her to the vet and discovered Rose’s horrifying truth.  She had been severely abused – her tail had been broken in at least four places at some point.  She had some of her teeth knocked out.  She had some spine damage (she hops like a rabbit when she runs as her hips aren’t quite right).  I was just sick that someone could be so vicious to a 9 lb dog.  She had been tossed out like a piece of trash.

Rose wears diapers.  She will never regain her bladder control or bowel control because of the damage to her spine.  She gets her bum washed to keep her clean.  She goes out with the other dogs, and when she comes in, she waits for her doggy diaper to be put on.

My original intent was to get Rose healthy and find her a good and safe home.  Obviously, once I knew how fragile she was and what she had been through in her past, she wasn’t going anywhere.  I promised her that no matter what, she was safe and would be loved whether she lived a month, a year or longer.  I would not part with her.  I needed her just as much as she needed me.  She brought me out of that very dark place I was in and I started to see the sunshine again.

Rose has personality plus.  She sleeps with me under the blankets like a bug in a rug.  She rules the other dogs and puts them in their places.  She is my constant companion and gives me such joy and purpose every day.

She saved me and I saved her.

This is a rather long and sad tale but it is my road to recovery and living my best life on my adopted island.  I’m certain that every island has a huge abundance of homeless and abused animals.  I encourage everyone to support local animal welfare groups – volunteer your time and resources to those that can’t speak for themselves.

Adopt – don’t shop.

Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:

Dominican Republic

Island Girl Since:

December 2010

Originally Hails From:

British Columbia, Canada

Colleen is originally from British Columbia, Canada and worked as an Accountant/Administrator for a massage therapy college. She and her husband moved to the Dominican Republic in December 2010. They moved here with six suitcases containing their remaining worldly treasures and two dogs. Since moving here, they have accumulated another six dogs. Jack is a Collie cross that is 11 years old, Shelby is a Lhaso Apso cross that is 10 years old, Boss is a Belgium Malinois cross that is six years old, Ebony is a Belgium Malinois cross that is five years old, Titch is a Belgium Malinois cross that is three years old, Gaby is a Belgium Malinois cross that is three years old, Mota is a Australian Shepard cross that is almost 2 years old, and Xena is a Dominican Cocomutt that is almost a year old.

Her life on their rock has been interesting, to say the least.  They’ve made a ton of friends and social acquaintances since moving here. Colleen is retired, but most days she is just plain tired. She’s never been so busy in her life. Her 24 year old daughter recently moved here to live with them, so that has brought a whole host of challenges as well.

In her spare time, she likes to garden and her husband has told her that she can’t plant anymore trees.

So life is busy all the time between her dogs, constant social invitations, and squeezing in volunteer work.

For more on Colleen, check out her personal blog.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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