Pandemic Puppies to the Rescue


Paco (white) and Reggie (tan) basking in the sun

Zoe Toperosky (she/her), Staff Writer

I started a year of hardship with a shining light. In February 2020, we rescued our dog Paco from the streets of Mexico. Then in April of 2021 we rescued our second dog, Reggie. I had no idea how much they were going to help us. 

The street dog problem in Mexico is tragic. There are thousands of dogs that wander the streets looking for scrap food and a little bit of love. But there are many people with hope that are making a difference four paws at a time, like Dr. Lisa Jensen, a local dentist in Multnomah Village.

She has been touching the lives of hundreds of dogs over the past three years. She brings the dogs to her office and shares stories of all the things they do while she cleans your teeth. ¨Bringing dogs to my office is usually very fun because my coworkers and patients like meeting my foster dogs. They stay in my office with one of my dogs that always comes to work with me so they get time to relax after a long trip from Mexico but also get the opportunity to socialize.¨ said Jensen. 

When we rescued Paco we went through Street Dog Heros, a nonprofit organization based in Bend, OR. They are determined to end the street dog population all around the world. The Founder, President of the board, and Executive Director Marianne Cox said about the street dog population in Mexico, ¨It’s sad. It’s never ending. It seems like no matter how hard we try it. We just cannot even make a dent.¨ 

Six weeks ago we extended our canine family and rescued Reggie. Street Dog Heros informed us of another non profit rescue based in Battleground, WA called Mila´s Mutts. Melanie Belisle and her partner Madii Mullican are passionate about ending the street dog population in Mexico. They both have full time jobs outside of this rescue but that hasn’t stopped them from following their hearts. “We just filed all the paperwork for a nonprofit and figured it all out and still figuring it out,” Belisle said, “And then three years later here we are, still rescuing dogs.¨ And in that short of a time this rescue has helped countless dogs find their forever home. 

At times just looking at these dogs makes my heart glow. The unspoken language between dogs and humans is something to cherish. They sense things in us that we might not want to admit to ourselves. The way that a dog can look at you makes you feel like you’re not alone. They will always be there when you need them. 

But this isn’t to say that they always had an easy life. Like many dogs in Mexico, Paco and Reggie had a rough few years. Paco spent the first year and a half of his life on the streets looking for a companion. We don´t know much of Reggie´s history, but what we do know is that when he came to us his whole chest and belly was bald, he would start shaking at the slightest noise, and was terrified of human contact. 

They aren’t the only ones. Our school psychologist, Emilee Refvem rescued 2 dogs, Lucy and Hazel from Texas over quarantine. She had a similar experience with her older dog Lucy. ¨That was something that we learned with Lucy early on is, you know, she was great, and then all of a sudden, something happened and she had a trauma response, like we could tell that somebody had hurt her, because of how she reacted, and that she was terrified,¨ Refvem said.

Jensen has had her share of scared dogs and dogs that have a much harder time adjusting to life in the Pacific Northwest. But she has a way to help these pups ease into their new life. ¨We get some dogs that come in that are really scared and shy so it’s just giving them as much of a relaxed and quiet environment to help them build confidence,¨ said Jensen. 

¨I think dogs can sense when something’s wrong, or when something’s up. And they know I feel like at least with our dogs, they know when we might need some comfort or some connection.¨ Refvem said. And I feel the same way with my dogs. They know when I need a little love and the right time to curl up next to you to let you know, you´re not alone. 

I´ve seen so much growth in Reggie and Paco since the times we got them, and I´ve felt growth in myself as well. Reggie has started to grow hair back, and is wanting to be held and loved. Paco has learned boundaries and that we will always be there. They have both learned that we always come home for them and that they will always have food. And I know that no matter what is going through my head I can turn and my dogs will be there to comfort and love me. 

The dogs that you get from breeders will always be there, they will always find a home and be loved. But the dogs that are roaming the streets, scared and hungry, will not always find a home. You might be there only and last chance.