It was said that Perla didn’t belong to anyone, but rather to everyone. Sra. Maria, a long term resident of the area, remembers that Perla arrived in their cul-de-sac as a tiny puppy. Despite arriving at such a young age, sadly nobody adopted her and so she made that street her home. Perla lived about 13 years in that street and she was cared for and fed by various neighbors. The extent of this care was very evident in her rather obviously full frame or obese body, as a less tactful person might describe her. As Perla had clearly taken it upon herself to protect the street and those who lived on it, the very least the neighbors could do was show their appreciation for her in the form of edible rewards. And show their appreciation they certainly did. Perla, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, happily accepted any and all donations, waddling as quickly as her rounded little body would carry her towards the kind neighbors that she considered to be her family.

Thanks to these same neighbors, Perla was sterilized, but not before she had one litter of puppies. Of her puppies, one female remained by her side and mother and daughter were inseparable. Together they patrolled the street, a formidable pair of lady canine peacekeepers. Where Perla went, her daughter followed – a veritable example of doggy devotion. Maria, one of her caregivers, said that Perla was an excellent guard dog and obviously took her duty as designated watchdog very seriously – nothing happened in that street without Perla knowing about it. The neighbors cared for both dogs deeply and built them a house in the forest near their street. Night after night, after a long day of serving and protecting their humans, Perla and her daughter would sleep side by side in their house in the forest.

Despite the care and affection showered upon the two, life on the streets is always dangerous. Sadly, Perla suffered the same fate as many other street dogs in Chile. A few months ago she was run over by a car which left her badly injured and unable to stand.

The neighbors desperately tried to find help to treat her in the closest veterinary clinic but they couldn’t find anyone to transport her. They called numerous clinics but nobody could go and collect Perla to bring her to the vet and, according to María, those who offered the service didn’t want to spend the time and resources on a street dog. They finally found a recently graduated veterinarian who examined her in the street and assessed her condition. Due to the extent of her injuries, he said Perla would never walk again and the most humane option was to put her to sleep. Maria was determined to help her loyal friend Perla and ease her suffering in any way possible. A resourceful and committed lady, she searched tirelessly until she found the GAAP.

Maria finally managed to get Perla to the GAAP clinic and remained by her friend’s side until the very end. She felt it was appropriate that she had been there from the beginning when Perla first arrived in the street as a tiny puppy and she was there until the end, when Perla was put to rest. When she saw Perla wrapped up in a blanket and resting, she told Angelica, the GAAP vet, that she had dreamt about Perla the night before. In her dream, Perla was wrapped comfortably in a cozy white blanket and she looked serene and peaceful, accompanied by many other dogs jumping all around her. Maria woke from her sleep, grateful for her comforting dream and the opportunity to say goodbye to her dear friend.

Perla now rests in the same forest that saw her run freely when she was alive, and her daughter is under the care of the same neighbors that cared for her mother. For María, offering Perla a comfortable and dignified goodbye surrounded by the people that loved her most was very important. Seeing this kind of commitment from people who, despite their limited resources, are willing to go that extra mile to care for a pet – or, in this case, an animal that isn’t even their own – shows us how valuable and precious the bond between animals and people can be.