A few months ago, I met Guilie Castillo-Oriard, who blogs at Quiet Laughter and Life in Dogs and fell in love with her. She’s with me on Team Damyanti for the A to Z Challenge and a techie whiz. She’s the one who set up the linky for the A to Z Theme Reveal Blogfest. She is fun, super-supportive and compassionate. Her comments are always thoughtful and she’s a joy to chat with! She writes beautifully – and if you want to give your heart a solid workout, spend some time at her blogs.

Guilie is a Mexicarescue guilien writer living in Curaçao. She misses Mexican food and Mexican amabilidad, but the beaches of the Caribbean are fair exchange. She’s currently editing her first novel, and working on an awesome year-long fiction project for Pure Slush. She is on Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter.

Today, Guilie is here to talk about something close to my heart – dog rescue.This post is also dedicated to my best friend of more than four decades.

Welcome, Guilie! ♥

Rescue Isn’t For Sissies

By Guilie Castillo-Oriard

Dog rescuing isn’t for sissies. Why? Because it breaks your heart. Over and over. You need to be a special kind of masochist to keep exposing yourself to that kind of pain—that helplessness.

And I don’t know any masochistic rescuers.

Why do we do it, then?

We do it because we can’t not do it. We do it because we can’t not see the starving dog at the side of the road, the dog chained in the sun without water, the skin-and-bones mother risking her life to retrieve a piece of bread someone dropped in the middle of a busy road.

We do it because there’s no one else.

We do it in spite of the heartbreak. We do it knowing we’ll have to make impossible decisions, knowing it’ll be a miracle if that dog survives—let alone find a forever home.

Dog rescuing isn’t for the hopeful. Especially when you find a dog like Mighty.

Rescue Guilie

We named him Mighty not because of any misplaced hope but because the people who called him in were the employees of Mighty Concepts, a graphic design business about a quarter mile from my house. I was just coming back from the beach with my dogs when a member of CARF (Curaçao Animal Rights Foundation*) phoned to ask for help. “He looks really bad,” she said. “His skin, it’s so thin. I can’t pick him up because it hurts him. If you bring that big crate, though, I think we can get him to walk into it on his own.”

I was wearing a wet bathing suit and damp clothes; my feet and flip-flops were covered in sand. But who has time to shower? I unloaded my dogs and loaded the crate.

Mighty did come willingly. With only a lasso leash around his neck, we were able to lead him into the crate. He seemed almost relieved to be in it, as if he knew that, one way or the other, his days in the street were over. As the two of us loaded him into the car—carefully, to avoid jostling him and damaging his paper-thin skin—his eyes looked out at us through the slits in the crate with a mixture of hope and gratitude that had me driving to the vet half blind with tears.

The news at the vet wasn’t good. Mighty didn’t just have skin issues—demodex so advanced if it were cancer it would’ve been Stage IV. He also had heartworm. And tick fever (ehrlichiosis). Severe malnutrition ( we tried something new with mighty, we outfitted his cage with an automatic dog feeder the constant robotic timing of food really helped his healing.)He also had Parasites, you name it, Mighty had it.

Which put the vet in a tough spot. Treatment for his demodex would aggravate the heartworm. The antibiotics needed to treat the tick fever were too strong for him to handle with his malnutrition. The tick fever complicated treatment for his demodex.

It’s like unknotting a ball of yarn a kitten’s been playing with. Trial and error, close monitoring. Love and good food. That’s all we could do.

And he responded.Rescue Guilie

The demodex was the least, if the most visible, of the problems. It took Mighty’s skin a long time to heal. But, once the tick fever and the heartworm was taken care of, heal it did. And then something beautiful happened.

CARF had advertised Mighty along with the other 150+ dogs up for adoption, and there had been some interest, but nothing panned out. He’s got a bit of Chow in him, and that makes him what some people call “dominant”—which I’ve learned is not just a misnomer but misleading—dangerously so. In any case, it was a deal-breaker.

Rescue Guilie

Which turned out to be a good thing. In the flukiest kind of fluke, at the end of February a man visited the foster home where Mighty lived. He wasn’t looking for a dog to adopt; he was there on wholly non-dog-related business.

All it took was one look. (Okay, with Mighty it probably was more like one slobbery kiss or two.)

Except the man’s wife didn’t agree. They’d been talking about getting a dog—they had dogs in Holland, before moving here, they love dogs, they want their son to grow up around them. But she wanted a puppy. And Mighty does not fit the description of “puppy,” no matter how flexible we might’ve tried to make it.

But Mighty’s human was Mighty’s—he knew it, Mighty knew it. Two weeks later, his wife admitted she knew it, too. And Mighty went home.

Rescue Guilie

Dog rescuing isn’t for sissies. It breaks your heart, over and over. But once in a very long, long while, there comes along a happily-ever-after that keeps our chins from trembling (too much) with the hard decisions.

Mighty’s story is one of them.

Thank you, Guilie!

Today is Day 18 of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

R for Rescue

Now, let’s go visit my Team Damyanti members

Damyanti Biswas at Amloki Blog

Samantha at Samantha Redstreake Geary

Have a wonderful week!

I am linking up with Unknown Mami, the lovely host of my favorite meme, Sundays in my city. It is a wonderful way to travel the world.

Unknown Mami


  1. Such a beautiful post and I am glad that Mighty got his happily ever after! You’re right. Rescue isn’t for the faint hearted. Love this post, Guilie.

  2. What a wonderful thing to share! Mighty looks awesome. I’m glad that the vet kept working step by step with the layered problems and I’m really glad that Mighty now has a home. What a beautiful dog!
    Happy Sunday,
    Star Traci recently posted…Sundays in My City #98 — Easter Fun!

    • You’re right; we’re lucky the vet didn’t give up on him. Many would have. And the world would’ve been robbed of Mighty’s mighty smile 🙂 Thanks for commenting!
      Guilie Castillo recently posted…Quiet (#atozchallenge)

  3. What a wonderful story about Mighty, Guilie! It sounds as if he and his human were “soul mates”! People abandon dogs where I live all of the time and I try to feed them when they come looking for food. They know where the food and water are located when they come by my house!

    Vidya, thanks for hosting an awesome guest!
    Cher recently posted…Build an Esmerelda Buffet

    • A kindred soul! Cher, those abandoned dogs are lucky you and your big heart are in the neighborhood. It’s so good to know that there’s other people around the world that feel for these homeless ones. Thank you for sharing, and for caring. Your comment means so much
      Guilie Castillo recently posted…Quiet (#atozchallenge)

    • Haha–Mighty is a super-model 😀 As soon as he got some food and loving hands on him, even while his skin still looked bad enough to make us cry, he began to smile. He’s a happy dog, one of the few rescues I’ve met whose spirit wasn’t broken by the street. So glad you stopped by, Ananya 🙂
      Guilie Castillo recently posted…Quiet (#atozchallenge)

  4. Guilie, I’ve read most of your ‘Lessons in Life from Dogs’ and commented on a couple of posts.

    Rescue of humans, dogs or any other living beings is a very noble activity, and nobility calls for great strength of character and toughness. Rescue is certainly not for sissies!
    Proactive Indian recently posted…Reach out

    • So glad you liked the post, Sreeja! He really is totally adorable, more so in person than any amount of photos can do justice to. And his new family–well, they’re just *wow*. Experienced dog owners and trainers, good-hearted people, a solid and stable family that will give him a good home for all his life. What more can anyone ask, right?
      Guilie Castillo recently posted…Quiet (#atozchallenge)

  5. Now this is a mighty powerful post! Way to go, Mighty! And what a wonderful way you have narrated Mighty’s heart-warming story, Guilie. Thank you. And thanks Vidya for having her on your blog today for this beautiful story, not just about rescue but renewal of hope.
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…R is for Reason

  6. The tears were flowing as I was reading this. I don’t know how you and the others do it, day after day, Guilie. I’d be a blubbering mess all the time. (One of those “sissies”, but I do donate whenever possible.) You have my utmost admiration! So glad Mighty’s health improved and he found his forever home. ♥ Thank you for sharing his story.
    I agree with you Vidya; Guilie is a real gem!
    Debbie recently posted…#AtoZChallenge: “R” is for RHODES

    • Debbie, all of Guilie’s posts at her Life in Dogs blog make me cry and laugh in turns. I know my heart would be a mess especially if there was no happy ending. I don’t know how she does it, but I am glad she does it!

      Hugs and thank you for your presence here today, Debbie!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Rescue Isn’t For Sissies by @Guilie73

    • Aw, Debbie–I’m sorry for making you cry. At least there’s a happy ending 🙂 And I’m sure you’d step up if you had to. We’re all blubbering messes–but we get it done. For the dog 😉

      Thank you so much for joining the conversation, and for your kindness. And for your tears–for having that big a heart.
      Guilie Castillo recently posted…Respect Is Peace (#atozchallenge)

  7. Keith Channing Reply

    Whilst not a rescuer myself, I have always had rescue dogs. A good friend rescues dogs and horses, and regularly amazes me with her strength, determination, and ability to handle the extreme highs and lows. I don’t know if I could do that!
    Keith Channing recently posted…Some places I have lived or visited – Rhodes

    • Welcome, Keith! How fascinating that she rescues horses! I know what you mean when you say you don’t know if you could do that – I know I’d be in tears if things didn’t end happily! Thank you for your comment!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Puns and Parodies

    • Keith! What a lovely surprise to see you here 🙂 Yep, the highs and lows–especially the lows–are hard to handle, but I’m sure you could do it. On the other hand, all the work of a rescuer comes to naught without good homes to adopt the rescues, and those are much harder to find. So, you see, the role you play is much more important 🙂

      Thank you so much for being here!
      Guilie Castillo recently posted…Respect Is Peace (#atozchallenge)

  8. Pheno Menon Reply

    Whoa that is some shocking situations to rescue the critters from… Planning on a pet soon maybe from an adoption center

    Pheno Menon recently posted…Risotto Gustoso

    • I do hope you get a pet soon, Pheno–especially if it’s a rescue 🙂 Nothing warms the heart or balances your karma like giving a homeless dog a home. Do keep in mind rescues come with issues, so make sure you select carefully. A puppy is tempting, they’re so darn cute! And they’ll have less behavioral issues than an adult–but they require a LOT of training. Adults, on the other hand, tend to be more independent. If you find one that seems calm and easy to handle (i.e., not a 50-kg Great Dane with PTSD), an adult is a great option. Hope it works out!

      Thanks so much for being here 🙂

  9. I really admire you Guille and many like you who put on their brave hearts and help rescue these kind souls. Can’t imagine how anyone can hurt them….so cruel! Lovely pics of Mighty, so happy to see he got well! Hugs
    Aditi recently posted…Quinces – the smell of Friendship

    • Damyanti, that’s exactly what I was thinking! Thank God there are those who rescue! I am glad we’re on the same team, and not just for the A to Z!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Quotes

    • I think many a vet would’ve suggested putting Mighty down. A homeless dog without a family and with this level of health concerns? The only way he’d make it was with constant supervision, not even day-to-day but more like minute-to-minute. So the hero in this story–aside from Mighty himself, who fought like a champ to live–is the fosters that took care of him. Months and months of medicines, pills in the morning, pills in the afternoon, liquid solutions that had to be shot directly into his mouth every day, baths twice a week with a special shampoo… Yep, the fosters get the trophy 🙂

      Thanks for the comment, D!
      Guilie Castillo recently posted…Respect Is Peace (#atozchallenge)

  10. this is so so beautiful 🙂 your work is amazing Guilie… I love reading how you have rescued so many of these beautiful creatures, but at the same time, I feel angry and sad that people could be this cruel to a living creature.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…The Room Extrapolation

    • I know, right, Rajlakshmi? I could never ever understand what prompts someone to be cruel! Thank you for being here today!

    • It feels strange to admit, but I do prefer animals to (most) people. A child might grow up to be willfully cruel to animals (they don’t even need to grow up that much for that, actually), but an animal will never be cruel for cruelty’s sake–not to a child, not to another animal. Perhaps that’s another of the downsides to animal rescuing: loss of faith in the human race.

      And then again, there’s people like all of you wonderful bloggers here 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by, Rajlakshmi!
      Guilie Castillo recently posted…Respect Is Peace (#atozchallenge)

  11. Rescue dogs always seem to repay you. Mighty is a wonderful example of what can be saved.

    A brilliant post.

    • Welcome, Bob! I love that Guilie’s post has a happy ending. Just saw that your R post is about Rottweilers! My friend recently rescued a Rottweiler who was in very bad shape in July. She is now doing very well 🙂 Thank you for visiting!

    • 🙂 Credit for Guilie, too, eh, Sri? Thank you for visiting! ♥ Hope you’ll visit Guilie’s blog!

    • No, you’re right, S(t)ri–the credit isn’t for any human; we put them out in the street to begin with, so someone stepping up and rescuing them is only the yin to the yang, the restoration of balance. Credit goes, indeed, to the will to live. So many dogs we rescue have given up; if they do survive, they’ll live in fear for the rest of their lives. But Mighty was never broken. Just one week after being rescued, once he’d had some good food and his strength was coming back, he was smiling and jumping up into our laps, trying to play. His spirit, regardless of whatever he’d gone through, was intact. And that’s nothing any human can take credit for.

      Thanks for the lovely comment!
      Guilie Castillo recently posted…Respect Is Peace (#atozchallenge)

    • Cathy, I had no idea! But I am not surprised. You are so compassionate. It is heart-breaking to see anyone suffer. My best friend recently rescued a dog and she’s doing very well now. I hope to share her story soon! Thank you so much for your presence here today!

    • I’m so very happy to meet you, Cathy–always good to find fellow animal lovers. And Cabo–really? I’m Mexican, so I know the horrors one finds there. Curaçao, where I live now, has nothing that compares to what I saw back home. Did you live in Cabo? Ok, off to your blog to find out more 🙂

      Thank you so much for commenting!
      Guilie Castillo recently posted…Respect Is Peace (#atozchallenge)

  12. Where oh where do I begin….
    I was so intimidated about participating in this blogging challenge, yet I forced myself to move forward. Each and everyday I am thanking God for pushingly spirit because I am meeting so many talented writers – and today I met you! Your story was incredible, I was riveted by every sentence. Thank you for using your gift. Look forward to reading more and more of your posts.

    • Cathy, that’s the beautiful thing about the A to Z! What you said sums it up beautifully! Glad you came by today and that we met. Just hopped over to your blog – and loved what I saw.

      Guilie will be over to “chat”. 🙂

  13. Oh my you are right…it is not for sissies and it breaks my heart when I see a dog or any animal in need. We have a rescue dog. We named him Wallace and when we got him in 2009 he was terrified of everyone and everything especially the outside. We tried rescue remedy, medicine, thunder shirt and went to 3 different dog specialists to help his fear. He is a lot better now and people said we have done wonders but he is still terrified of the outside. He shakes with such fear and he pulls when he knows he is going home. Tail is under and we have tried every thing we can think of. I can’t take him due to joint issues and he has dislocated my arm joints (I can do that easily) and he is strong but he is our beautiful doggie. We can not picture life without out wonderful Wallace. people are horrible how they mistreat animals but there are so many more who help and do all they can and to the people who do it day in and day out are heroes in my book and deserve all the admiration they deserve
    Birgit recently posted…R for Rosalind Russell

    • Birgit, thank you for sharing Wallace with us! Obviously he’s family! I remember my friend telling me how afraid her dog was when they first brought her home. She would refuse to step out of the house! But now, ten months later, she’s a cheerful dog always looking for a cuddle! Hugs! I am sure Wallace will get over his fear with your love. Thanks again for coming over today!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Rescue Isn’t For Sissies by @Guilie73

    • Thank you, Birgit, for sharing Wallace’s story. Rescues are a challenge, even when they’re not as fearful as Wallace; they all have issues, and the people who give them a forever home earn a special place in my heart precisely because they’re not easy. I’m glad Wallace found you; it sounds like you’re doing everything possible to help him, and that he’s responded 🙂 There are some fears that might never go away, not completely, and perhaps we need to respect them as part of the dog’s self. It’s hard; I have a couple of very reactive little ‘uns and they drive me crazy trying to figure out how to make them “normal”. Nothing I try works, not really. Maybe I’m trying too hard?

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. It’s people like you, the home-givers, that make rescue worth all the pain.
      Guilie Castillo recently posted…Respect Is Peace (#atozchallenge)

  14. Thanks dear Vidya for presenting Guilie today! I really enjoyed reading the story. Bless your hearth for helping helpless animals. Very moving to read and I am so happy Mighty got a good home. Very inspirational:-)
    Eli recently posted…R for Rosendal

  15. I am sure you are fully aware of how I feel about this one! My 26 posts are dog stories and many of them rescued ones. You made a point here that I never thought about before. You said that rescuing dogs was not for the faint of heart. I never thought of it that way — to me it is a no-brainer. You see a dog that is abused, or hurt, and you FIX it. My post today is about two rescue dogs as well.

    Carol @ Battered Hope
    carol graham recently posted…Dogs – Sheba on the Yellow Line

  16. Sometimes there are no words to express what you feel. What a happy happy ending to Mighty’s story. How heartbreaking was his story. So glad for him and his ‘human”.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…S is for Sophie Kinsella

  17. Such a heart-warming post!
    I really admire Guilie!
    To have your heart broken over and over again… that takes a special individual with a special heart… and with her passion and drive, it’s obvious that Guilie is the right person for this job… <3
    God bless you!
    Michelle Wallace recently posted…S is for Sticker Album

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