Our First Visit to the Isla Animals Shelter

January 2022 marked the first time my family vacationed on Isla Mujeres. We had taken a day trip over from Cancun in July of last year, rented a golf cart for the day and absolutely fell in love with the island. When we returned home from our trip, we knew that our next visit to Mexico would be to the island and immediately began planning the details.  As we poured over the information about Isla Mujeres, we learned about Isla Animals. We thought it would be fun to stop in to visit and play with the puppies, so we put it on our list, simply as a “check the box” thing to do.

We arrived late on Saturday, January 1. We spent the next day resting from travel and lounging by the pool. Monday, Jan 3rd was kind of a rainy day, so we agreed that it would be a perfect day to go see the puppies.  We piled into our golf cart – my husband and I and our 21-year-old twin son and daughter – and off we went! When we arrived, we were lucky because we were able to go right in (they only allow six people in at a time.) We weren’t prepared for the deluge of puppies to come running towards us, but what an experience it was!  There was one puppy, Lassi, who came right over to me and immediately sat in my lap! I learned later (and witnessed in later visits) that Lassi is a high-energy girl, so the fact that she came over and sat in my lap was quite a surprise. 

I also had the chance to spend some time with Leela, one of the adult doggies.  She’s a couple years old, by no means an “older dog”, and is as calm and gentle as they come. She is just plain beautiful and super sweet. I felt like she didn’t get the attention that the puppies got, but she was just as adorable as they were. As I looked around at my family, I noticed each one of them had immersed themselves in the midst of a separate puppy frenzy at different points in the room.  My son had two dogs sleeping in his lap as he sat on the floor, my husband was rocking another puppy over in a corner and my daughter was immediately drawn to Chardonnay.  The volunteer on duty at the shelter could not have been more friendly and was trying to explain to us a little bit about each of the dogs. The time went so quickly and after a couple of hours another couple arrived to see the puppies so we decided to leave so they could take a turn. We left a monetary donation and went on our way. We also noticed a sign listing items that they were in need of as far as donations go, and made a mental note. We really had no idea that what started out as a “check the box thing to do” would consume our thoughts for the rest of the week.

During our 10-day island stay, our rental was down near Punta Sur. One morning as we headed to Playa Norte, we stopped by before they opened to see if we could drop off a donation of supplies that we picked up at the Chedruai. The volunteer in charge was so gracious and let us in for a few minutes to drop the donations off. We saw our sweet little Chardonnay and took a minute to fuss over her.  Each day, we kept talking about the puppies and of course how the beautiful Chardonnay had captured our hearts and how we had to go see her again.  We already have two older dogs and both of our kids are in college right now so the time isn’t right for us to adopt another dog, but it was extremely tempting for us to capture one of those little darlings at the shelter.  The next time we went to visit, we noticed that a few of the puppies from our first visit had been adopted and were gone. It was amazing to realize how quickly the puppies get adopted. We were glad to see our little Chardonnay was still there but would have been elated to learn that she had found a forever home too. 

It was this visit that we learned that they keep an adoption tracking board on the wall. From then on, each time we went in we would check the board and follow the progress.  The next time we visited, there was a whole new litter of tiny puppies in the back section. They were adorable and even my husband found it hard to resist the furry little snuggly creatures.  Of course, we still found time to snuggle and fuss over our little Chardonnay. During that visit some people showed up, volunteering to walk some of the older dogs. They said they were going to walk them down to Punta Sur and back. I was envious of their energy!

In total, over our 10 days on the island, I think we made it to the shelter 4 times. The morning we left, we made a special trip to the shelter to see them one more time and to fill their hearts and minds with loving words from humans.  We told them all that we know they will all get loving homes soon.  I kissed Chardonnay and told her I would think of her every day, and I have done just that. I told her I know she’ll find a loving family soon and I know she’ll be such a good girl for someone and will be such a happy girl. I think we all shed a few tears as we walked out the door but I knew in my heart that we would return again and again.

When we arrived home I immediately signed up as a volunteer and that is why you are reading this story. I’m also going to solicit for supplies that I can collect and ship to the US address.  Oh, and yes, the proverbial happy ending: Just yesterday I learned that our beloved Chardonnay has been adopted!

Diana Colbert lives near Pittsburgh PA Married with twins (son and daughter) who are 21 years old and still love to travel with their parents. She and her family have owned dogs and/or cats for most of their lives. She works in financial services and would love to live in Mexico someday.

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