Before the Mariposa had even opened its doors to Spanish students and eco-hotel guests, we started taking in stray and unwanted animals and providing them a happy and loving home. Even whilst the construction team was still at work, they had to step over puppies, kittens and a poorly horse wandering around the building site! And of course the numbers just keep on growing as we try never to say no!
It is not possible to generalize about the treatment of animals here in Nicaragua any more than in any other country but the ones who have come to us have not, on the whole, been physically maltreated. Rather they have not been fed. In some cases this is because they are living semi wild on the street and have to scavenge for their food. Sometimes local people do feed the street dogs – Foxy is an example. Though a street dog she came to us in a fairly healthy condition. Often it is the case that families are too poor to feed their animals properly and this applies to horses as well as dogs. This was the situation Condor was in – he had an owner, it turned out, who was a very poor pineapple farmer and whose wife had died the year before. He was so poor and depressed that he didn’t feed himself let alone his dog! He agreed to us keeping Condor.
We now take care of 14 horses, 20 or so dogs, 7 cats, 4 monkeys and about 30 birds of various species. The monkeys and parrots came to us as creatures confiscated by the Nicaraguan police in their battle against the illegal trade in wild animals (at the time the zoo, which usually took the confiscated animals was full to bursting point). Not all of the dogs live with us; we help a small number of poor families to feed their pets by buying them supplies of dog biscuits.
As you can imagine this is all costly! Dog, cat, monkey and bird food, supplementary food for the horses costs us around $150 per week. On top of that we need to buy supplies for building horse corals, the large bird and monkey cages, rent grazing land, buy medicines and flea shampoo!! We also pay a worker full time at the Mariposa and we have a team of 3 caring for the horses. That is another $250 a week.
The animals are also neutered as soon as possible; the males by the head of the Spanish school Bergman who moonlights as a vet! We take the females to Granada where there is sometimes a clinic run by volunteers from the US. One of our future hopes at the Mariposa is to set up a vet clinic here in La Concha.
So if you can help us by sponsoring one of our animals we, and they, would be most grateful! You can either make a general donation or sponsor your particular favorite! You can stay in touch with her/his progress as we post regular photos and updates on our facebook page. You can donate through Paypal on the website and specify which animal you would like to sponsor. Even a small amount donate regularly would be so helpful. http://www.mariposaspanishschool.com
Thank you from all of us!
Here we present some of our animals!!
Sultan came to us whilst we were still constructing the Mariposa. He was passed to Bergman literally in a shoebox, together with his sister Susie. Their mother had died and the owner felt he could not look after two puppies but thought that we could. The guys building the Mariposa had to step over the pups in order to get to the building supplies as they lived initially in the storeroom! Susie sadly died from a scorpion bite but Sultan grew and grew. He is now our biggest dog, resembling a Holstein cow, a well loved character who likes nothing more than to pester students, especially when relaxing in a hammock, asking to have his back rubbed!
About 3 years ago, Paulette received a phone call from an ex-Mariposa student who was helping out a vet brigade in Granada neutering cats and dogs. Donna said they had rescued a street dog “the cutest little lady” but they had no room for her at the rescue centre and she was being kept in the bathroom. Could I possibly find her a home? I said yes and Bergman immediately headed off in the pickup truck to bring her to the Mariposa. On arriving, Foxy jumped out of the truck, ran upstairs, found Paulette on the computer and sat down by her side. Foxy has held that position ever since!
Molly came to us as a very sick little puppy, her owners explaining that they could not afford the operation she would need for her hernia nor the necessary medicines. Bergman had to operate on her twice but she not only survived, she became one of the Mariposa’s favorite dogs with the students. She is also however the naughtiest (maybe the two are not unconnected) and Paulette can often be heard shouting “Molly!!” for some reason or other. She especially loves to provoke the monkeys until they pull her ears!
Another one who came to us as a tiny unwanted puppy. At a few months of age, Jaz contracted a kind of canine flu and we thought we were going to lose him. He recovered but is now is our most accident prone dog. He is forever crossing fences that are too low for him or going though gaps that are too small. Brave and loyal, he and Sultan formed an incredible father/son bond, with Sultan carrying Jaz as a puppy around in his mouth. These days they still mostly hang out together and it is their job to look after the Mariposa at night, letting us know if anything untoward is happening.
The very first Mariposa dog! Holly was a Xmas gift (hence the name!) from one of the workers. Initially she lived with Paulette and Guillermina in their homestay. On one occasion, she was stolen and the whole family spent an entire day searching for her. Half way through the night Holly rushed into the house, dived under the bed and didn’t move for 3 days. She had chewed through the cord which had been used to tie her up and run home as fast as she could. She is now a very nervous, undemanding but affectionate dog who has produced two litters of 11 puppies and, extraordinarily, one litter in between of just one puppy before we could get her neutered. Though she has always been a great Mum (see below) she certainly seems very happy not to be running the risk of having more pups and runs around like a little puppy herself these days.
Whilst living in a homestay down in San Juan de la Concha in 2006, Paulette came face to face with a skeletal dog but who has the most beautiful eyes crossing the street. He was on his way to the rubbish dump to scrounge for food; she told Bergman that, come what may, they were going to adopt that dog. It took several weeks of offering food before he was confident enough to allow himself to be stroked. He was given the name Condor as he circled the house many times, knowing there was something there for him but not daring to come in. Now the grand daddy of the dogs, at around 10 years old, he prefers dozing on the terrace to going on walks with the others. Though he can still deafen us all with his loud bark, often setting the others off, welcoming the group home from the afternoon trip out!
A few months ago, the Mariposa received a phone call from the dog rescue centre in Granada advising us of a very thin and sick female dog with puppies in Ticuantepe (about 12 kilometers from us). We immediately set out in the pickup to bring her and the puppies home. Sadly, the apparent owner, drunk and belligerent, told us he had already sold the puppies but we were welcome to take Canela. At first she lived on the farm but she is big and ebullient, the farm is small and tightly packed with vegetables, and so she has been moved to the new study centre where there is a lot of space. Marlon, who lives next door and works with us, takes care of her with his own dog, Brandon. The two are now great friends. Plus a third, very timid and very thin, puppy visits and Marlon feeds her too. Eventually she will become part of the group.
The photos show Canela when she first arrived and now. You can even see the difference in the color of her fur and how it shines with health now! She still needs to put on a little more weight but we are getting there.
Rosie was picked up in the street, where she was lying in the gutter, by a group of volunteer Mariposa students on their way to work at the Santiago community garden project. She was horribly thin and covered in sarna, a skin disease which eventually kills. Bergman, who treated her, and is holding her in the second photo, was surprised that she survived. For the first few days with us she lay curled up in a ball, only waking to be fed a mixture of milk and soaked dog biscuits with a tiny amount of minced meat. She is a lively bundle now. Still tiny but very brava and defends Carlos and the farm against all intruders!
So named thanks to his coffee with cream coloring! He is our biggest horse and nearly always takes someone out for the Sunday ride. An ex- hippica horse means that Cappuccino was trained as a dancing horse (similar to dressage) and would have taken part in the celebratory parades that are part of every town’s yearly fiesta for the local patron saint. For some time after coming to us he would break into a little dance if the ride passed a house where loud music was playing. We don’t know his age exactly but think he is around 10 years and will retire completely from working within the next year. We will find him a green field in which to live out the rest of his days in well earned retirement!
Meaning ‘bird’ Parajo lost an eye in an accident so his previous owner did not want him anymore. He can be a little nervous if something happens on his blind side, such as a dog running out of a house barking at him, but he goes out with the group riding on Sundays as he is happy to tuck himself behind another horse and follow along!
Panuelo and Chepito
These two were the first horses to find a home at the Mariposa. Working all their lives as riding horses on the beach at La Boquita, their owners were looking to replace them because of their age. Chepe was actually very ill and almost died from a form of arthritis which can affect horses very badly. Rather than give him lots of injections and medicines (horses are very delicate) Paulette decided the best treatment would be keeping him warm and giving him regular massage. It worked and Chepe now gives horse rides once a week with the rest of the group.
The photo first shows Chepe when he first arrived.
Sadly this foals mother, Coralea, died after stepping on a rattlesnake (the horses have since been moved to a much safer grazing area) and she was left orphaned. We did not know whether she could survive as she was very young but, with the help of a volunteer called Karen (after whom she is named) and a lot of bottle feeding she pulled through and is a now a lively teenager.
Karencita now likes nothing better than to hang out with her papa, Panuelo!
Born 2 months ago this little baby is proving to be a big hit! He is already very tame and likes to be petted between the ears. He is still supplementing Mum’s milk with the bottle!! That’s Mum in the background, she is in extremely good health which is great. His name Ceniza means ‘ash’ as he was born on the side of the Volcan Masaya.