Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dog Days Of February
By Michael

Frances and Eleanor visiting the
Baja Dogs La Paz site.
The stray dogs grabbed her attention. Some avoided her, some followed her, all appeared skinny and dirty. Growing up in Washington, D.C., she learned that a dog seen without an owner was a reason to stop, a reason to try and see if said dog could be reunited with its person. Now in La Paz, we were telling her to ignore the strays. This prompted the questions:

“Who do these dogs belong to?”
“Where do they live?”

Our answers didn’t satisfy Frances.
Eleanor quickly and matter-of-factly repeated our answers, embellishing in a bid to demonstrate her worldliness. “Frances, these dogs don’t have a home, they live on the street—and you don’t touch them because they might have a disease or bite you, or they might think you’re gonna give them food—that’s teasing.”

Frances was not settled:
“Who feeds them?”

“What do they eat?”
“Who pets them?”

She got it right away, but she wasn’t content with the reality. She told us she wanted to help all of the dogs without a home, to take them back to the boat and feed them and love them. We explained why this wasn’t feasible. Eleanor made sure it was clear, “Frances, you can’t do that. We don’t have room on the boat for a bunch of dogs.”
The explanation didn’t satisfy Frances. “I want to help the dogs,” she begged. Windy and I nodded, expecting this desire to fade, to be replaced by the next urgent thing on her five-year-old mind.
Zada from Eyoni visiting
on trip #2. All the girls
took turns holding puppies.
It is a wonder all of the
respective boats are
still dog free.

But her interest and concern persisted. It was the first thing she thought about in the morning and the last thing she asked about at night. Helping the dogs became an obsession that eclipsed her usual interests and diversions.
I was impressed by her dedication and tenacity. I finally suggested she help the people who were already helping the dogs, an organization called Baja Dogs La Paz. Frances liked the idea. Windy suggested she visit the Baja Dogs La Paz location to learn more about what they were doing for the dogs and to learn how she could help. Frances, Windy, and Eleanor took a trip out to El Centenario—on the outskirts of La Paz—to visit and learn.

After seeing this shelter, Frances’s desire to help grew. She suggested that she organize a bake sale, to raise money for Baja Dogs La Paz. It didn’t take any encouragement from us for her to take this idea and run with it. She spent her time thinking of what she could make to sell, how much she should charge, how big her sign should be. She thought about all of the facets and became our 5-year-old project manager. She asked Windy to teach her to make dog biscuits and brownies to sell. She enrolled Eleanor and her friends on Wondertime and Eyoni to help. She set a date to sell baked goods at Club Cruceros in Marina de La Paz.
On Saturday, February 18, Frances and Eleanor (8) from Del Viento, Zada (6) from Eyoni, and Leah (6) and Holly (3) from Wondertime got up early and with their parents’ help, hauled their goods and signs up to the marina parking lot to accept donations. They called their effort, Pesos for Pets.

The dozens of brownies, dog biscuits, pumpkin muffins, and doughnuts were snatched up quickly by hungry sailors and passersby. The girls promoted their effort with Baja Dogs La Paz fliers and answered questions from curious adults. They watched excitedly as the coins and bills in their donation jar multiplied.
In just a couple hours, their goods were gone and they’d raised over 1,500 pesos. Frances was overjoyed. A couple days later, she and her friends piled into a pick-up and headed out to Baja Dogs La Paz and presented the funds they’d raised.

She wants to do it all again soon, to raise more money.

Frances posing on the day of the bake sale she spearheaded. Her Pesos
for Pets sign is the green one. Zada contributed the Doughnuts for
Donations sign.
Eleanor, Zada, Frances, and Leah pose with Dhorea and Mario, the folks who run
Baja Dogs La Paz. Here Zada and Frances clutch the 1,500
pesos the girls raised and are about to present.

Frances also celebrated her sixth birthday
this month. Fortunately, the cake I made her
tasted better than it appeared.

Zada and Frances share a birthday (Zada a year older). Here aboard
Eyoni, Zada graciously shared her celebration with Frances.

Happy Birthday my kind-hearted little
organizer. You're a neat little person.


  1. Happy birthday sweet Frances. Your other birthday mate Ossley says he wishes he could have been there to celebrate with you and to have helped with the bake sale. He wants you to know that he makes very good chocolate chip cookies, which he is sure would have helped the cause. Hugs and more hugs and kisses to you.

  2. We enjoyed the girl's visit to Baja Dogs La Paz. We want to send a big thank you from all their furry friends and from Dhorea, Shawn, Mario & Jose!The money raised will buy food and toys for the dogs in the Palapa. The girls will be happy to know that Heidi, Cosi, Roscoe, Bijou and Carmela will be leaving La Paz for their new homes in Calgary, Canada. Thank you to everyone that helped make the Pesos for Pets a successful fundraiser. Dhorea

  3. We were thrilled to grab hold and hang on for a wonderful adventure with Frances, her non-stop skirt tail, and Baja Dogs. Wow....we loved it and were so happy to be part of something so amazing and all good. It has been the "downside" to being in Mexico, seeing, like you have, the way many of the animals are treated...and it is the upside to meeting young, compassionate and determined people who stand up and made a stance and make a HUGE difference. I shall never forget these days here in La Paz and love that a vibrant, amazing little girl brought us all together to do good, to give and to know that we should never look the other way, because often, that way is very, very wrong and we each can make a brownie, one cupcake, one person, one a time. xoxo The Crew on Eyoni

  4. Happy Birthday Frances!
    Love Eleanor's shades in the top pic and glad you're all well. xoxo

  5. Wow,
    Beautiful pictures and a beautiful story. Congratulations on raising such caring children. You have many reasons to be proud.
    s/v Just a Minute

  6. This post brought tears to my eyes. What a sweet girl! Happy birthday! And Way to go!

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