The life of an animal rescuer is never simple — and that’s what Tania Cappelluti learned yet again earlier this month when she arrived back in her hometown of Berlin, Germany.
Cappelluti has been living in Costa Rica for the last several years. She moved there to start a yoga retreat. Then, after seeing how many stray dogs and cats there were wandering the streets in need, she teamed up with some locals and started something else, as well: Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue Costa Rica (CAARCR).
Since then, she’s helped dozens of animals with nowhere to go find loving homes. And so, when she arrived in Berlin earlier this month, helping animals didn’t stop just because she was several thousand miles away.
“This is so unbelievable,” she wrote on Facebook on August 16, posting a photo of an obviously pregnant dog leaning against the facade of a blue house. “I really don’t understand how people can do this to their dog.”
Cappelluti had received a message from the family’s neighbor in Costa Rica about this dog, along with photos and the news that this dog had been left behind when her family moved away.
“They moved away and left their pregnant dog behind,” she wrote. “No food or water. On her own, with a big belly. The poor girl is sitting now day and night in front of the door waiting for her people to come back home.”
Then Cappelluti asked — yet again — the essential question for people who run animal rescues: “Who can help?”
Up in the middle of the night because of the time difference, Cappelluti — who convinced the neighbor to take the dog in while she figured out what to do — corresponded with her partners at CAARCR and with the network of foster caregivers the rescue organization has built over the past few years.
And they were racing against time. The dog could have given birth at any moment, she was so round.
Thankfully, help came just in time for the dog, whom rescuers named Marie.
Wynn Mackey, an American retiree who lives in Costa Rica and has several dogs of his own, gladly agreed to take Marie into his home.
Mercedes Mora, a local Costa Rican seamstress and one of the founders of CAARCR, carried the heavily pregnant dog over to Mackey’s house.
“He has fostered for us before,” Cappelluti told The Dodo. “He is a wonderful foster dad.”
Mackey constructed a special little bed for Marie, knowing that she could give birth there any day.
And from that moment on, the waiting for the big moment could finally begin.
In the days after Marie’s arrival, Mackey and his dogs tried to make her feel comfortable, despite the heat.
She managed to enjoy rolling around on the grass in the yard, soaking up Mackey’s compliments and adoration.
But Marie was noticeably exhausted.
“She loves to hang out on the cool tiles as she feels a bit uncomfortable being so pregnant,” Cappelluti told The Dodo earlier this week.
Still, Marie felt safe and loved by her foster carer, and managed to spend several days in a state of relaxation.
“She doesn’t leave Wynn’s side!” Cappelluti said.
The puppies were so active in Marie’s belly, Mackey said she looked like a bag of frogs.
“We expect a lot of puppies soon,” Cappelluti said. And when she woke up in the middle of Monday night and thought about Marie, she checked her messages.
“I opened Facebook,” she said, “and there she smiles at me with seven puppies!!!”
Marie had given birth — and not in the special bed that Mackey had made for her.
She had given birth right in Mackey’s own bed.
“All is well! Marie hesitates to leave the babies even to relieve herself,” Cappelluti said. “But I am sure that she will soon relax and even enjoy short breaks.”
Marie’s happiness and relief made the whole last-minute, transatlantic scramble to rescue her more than worth it. When Marie and her puppies are ready, they’ll all be looking for forever homes — but for now they need only to eat and rest.
“We are all over the moon,” Cappelluti added.