In May of 2022, I had the opportunity to visit Animal Aware in Guatemala and complete a circle.

This story actually begins back in 2008, when I was looking for a dog to adopt. I looked for quite some time, but that magic connection just wasn’t quite happening…until one day I went to the Marin Humane Society in Novato, California and met the dog that changed everything!

She was shy, but her beautiful eyes said it all. She showed me a heart so unmistakably loving that there was no question. She was the one! She was about six months old at the time, and I noticed on her paperwork that she had come all the way from Guatemala! Thankfully her adoption papers also listed Animal Aware as the agency that had rescued her from the streets. Animal Aware was partnering with SPCA International at the time, and as a result of the unseen, collective hard work and dedication of these cooperating agencies and volunteers, this little dog found her forever home!

Over the years, she continued to be shy and reserved at times, but once she accepted you into her circle, you were a friend for life and she would shower you with kisses and devotion.

After 12 wonderful years together, Maya passed away peacefully at home in December of 2020.

When COVID travel restrictions began to ease, I started wondering about where I might go or what I might do with the opportunity. Guatemala started coming to mind, and I began wondering if maybe I might return a portion of Maya’s ashes to the hills at Aware in Sumpango. After all, Maya had made such a long journey for me…wouldn’t it be nice to return the favor?

Thanks to Tania, one of Aware’s most dedicated volunteers, I was able to spend the better part of two days at the shelter in May of 2022. It was quite the eye-opening and heart-opening experience. After getting to know Tania and Xenii, and seeing how well the hundreds of beautiful animals are being taken care of at Aware, I felt even more enthused about and appreciative of all the things that Aware is doing.

Before leaving the shelter, I scattered Maya’s ashes along the path where the dogs are walked each day…a shaded area, dotted with sunshine, leaves and pine needles. It was a beautiful day. I paused in a little clearing along the way and the breeze lifted some of her ashes up towards the clouds.

I now realize that the circle I was looking to complete is much bigger than I thought and it doesn’t quite end here! Not too long after Maya passed away, I started sponsoring a dog at Aware. His name is Hulk, and after meeting him in person, I was definitely enchanted by another pair of loving and knowing Guatemalan eyes!

If you are in a situation where you can adopt, please consider giving Hulk a home. Ask to see his pictures or go and meet him in person. He is so loving and affectionate.

I hope my story inspires you to support Aware in any way that you can. If you can’t adopt an animal, please consider sponsoring one. Or come to the shelter and volunteer! I assure you that your donation will make a difference and will benefit the animals directly and meaningfully.

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