By Paul MacMahon
Partnerships with shelters North of Mexico have become an ongoing lifeline for many of the traumatized dogs that find their way to The Ranch. Hector, was one of those dogs that got adopted by a couple living outside of Seattle. This is his story:
Jan Gray who runs the Shelter here in Washington asked me to tell you a bit about our dog and my connection to Ajijic. When he was in the Ajijic shelter he was named Hector. I still call him by his full name, but only when I want him to know that I’m serious about something. However, he now goes by Hec (or “Heck” as Tara, my wife, insists on spelling it).
The story began, for us, in the spring of 2016 when our beloved 16 year-old beagle, Tobi, finally reached the end of her life. I began researching breeders and reading ads in anticipation of the day we would get another dog. But we needed time to heal. In the interim, we began volunteering to walk dogs at our local shelter.
One day in June Tara saw a notice that they would be bringing in two dogs from Mexico, Hector and Luna. The picture of Hector showed a dog that had certainly seen a lot in his life: a bit older than I was looking for, large scars around his right eye, a chunk missing from his right ear and worn down lower front teeth--but such a wonderful smile. Tara immediately called her friend, Jan Gray at the Shelter and asked her not to let someone have Hector until we had a chance to spend some time with him. It turns out that it was a good thing she made the call so quickly because Hector was fast becoming the darling of the shelter.
We went and spent some time with him in the enclosure at the shelter and then took him for a walk in the woods. The rest is history.
In fact, history is also a part of the story of love at first sight. Hec and I had a lot in common, besides the scars we’d picked up along the way. My parents moved to Encarnacion Rosas, in Ajijic, in 1968. My mother died in 1988 but my father lived until he was 95, in 2008. Along the way, my sister joined them, as did my invalid daughter. After my father died I kept the house for them until they died in 2009 and 2012, finally regretfully selling it in 2014.
Since the first time I set foot in Ajijic, in 1968, it has been a spiritual place to me. We were a dog family. My father raised Irish Wolfhounds and then Bouviers. In fact, in their early years in Ajijic, during the long waiting list to have a telephone installed, when I needed to talk to my father I would call the Old Posada and ask them to send a boy to “get the man with the big dogs” and he would come down and call me back. They didn’t always know his name but they knew his dogs and where he lived.
I spread most of my fathers’ ashes back in the mountains he loved, where we would walk miles and miles with the dogs. However, some of them remain in a rose bed, along with my mother’s, sister’s and daughter’s ashes, at the house on Encarnacion Rosas.
Now Hec is my constant companion. In fact he makes typing this difficult with his head in my lap. He will not let me leave the house without him. He particularly likes the mile long circuit to get the mail. Our mail lady has taken to leaving a treat for him in the mailbox. He waits for me at the gym while I work out and a person I train there loves to walk through the town with us after a work out. He, an outgoing sort, enjoys introducing Hec to friends and tourists, alike. Hec is, indeed, a well-known dog about town.
Hec sleeps between us at night and with his head in my lap, on the couch, much of the day. He finds the deer and foxes on our property to be wonderful targets of ferocious barking (although Jan originally assured me: “These dogs don’t bark”) and would chase them if we let him.
I don’t want to think about life without Hec. As Tara says: “We didn’t rescue Hec. He rescued us.”