A Friday the 13th miracle

One way to dinner late yesterday afternoon, barely three hours after uploading my previous post, Stew and I spotted a grayish dog on the opposite side of the road who was panting, exhausted but determinedly trudging somewhere. 

It was Benji returning home.

We called her name, she answered, and I loaded her into the car. She didn’t resist or wiggle to get free; in fact she seemed relieved as she curled up in the back compartment.

We turned around to bring her back home, where we fed her and she joined the other dogs in her pack who seemed to be waiting for her—or for more food.

The more we thought about Benji’s feat, the more amazing—almost miraculous—it seemed. She probably had never been more than two hundred meters from our front gate, except once, to a spay-and-neuter clinic held in Sosnabar about a kilometer down the road from us.

And the last few days couldn’t have been more stressful for her: A trip to the vet, where she she spent a couple of nights, ten days at a nearby kennel, her trip to her new owner and now her perilous return home.

She’d managed to get away from her new owner, wander back seventeen or eighteen kilometers on her own, over a period of about thirty-six hours, through a strange town, stretches of open highway fraught with all manner of dangers, make the correct right turn onto the Jalpa Road and was on her way home.

Félix had no doubts she would return home; he had heard similar stories. “Los perros son muy listos,” he said, in that somber tone of country-boy wisdom he adopts when he feels he’s teaching city-slick gringos a thing or two. 

“Dogs are very smart.”

But this is way beyond “smart”. Do dogs have a GPS planted in their heads, set to “home”? Do they follow familiar smells? Or do they simply remember routes and sights? Or follow some innate instinct or sonar we don’t begin to understand?

I need to ask Dr.Vazquez, her vet, who also seemed quite sure she would return.

Benji was covered with burrs and weeds, stank as if she’d had a run-in with a skunk or something dead, and was ravenous. Other than that she wagged her tail as if to thank us.

We called Jack, the guy who had adopted her, and he was thrilled too. First thing, he said, he’s going to the hardware store to get some fencing material to seal the perimeter around his place, and then drive here to deliver the antibiotics Dr. Vazquez prescribed.

But we also agreed that for a couple of days Benji would be better off hanging out at her usual haunts with her usual friends. She’s already stressed enough.

Stew, her closest human friend, just went out to feed her and reported that she’s fine back home with her friends, but needs a good brushing and some attention to calm her down.

still can’t believe, much less understand, how Benji managed this incredible feat.

I’m also left wondering if Benji—and us—would have been better off if we had left her alone in the first place, despite the seemingly terrific person who’s coming by in a couple of days to pick her up. 

Now I’m not sure now if she was the beneficiary, or the victim, of human compassion.

17 thoughts on “A Friday the 13th miracle

  1. Wow, animals are amazing. I think Benji would be better off living the way she has in the past, but that's just my opinion. Either way, the recent trip to the vet has nit harmed her at all.


  2. Wow! I think Benji has given you the answer. She NEEDS to stay where she feels loved and safe. I'm SO proud of her and you for the understanding and compassion that you have shown to Benji. Jack's intentions are good, but Benji will find a way to get out and the next time she might not survive the perilous journey! Hugs


  3. Indeed “Los perros son muy listos.” Though as you do, I'd be curious as to what type of “radar” they have in finding their way. Bless her sweet heart – and everyone else's involved in this. I don't know what's best for her, I only know I'm praying it turns out she lives as happily ever after as possible. Thank you for letting us know she's okay.


  4. Anonymous

    Our family cat, Blackie, went missing just before we left our rented cottage one July. It was on a lake about 25 miles from our house in the city. Despite our best efforts we couldn’t find her and had to leave. Two or three months later I opened the door and there was a very bedraggled Blackie! Unfortunately, she was also very sick and had made it home just in time to die with her family. I learned at ten years of age that animals are truly amazing. Wishing all the best for the intrepid Benji.


  5. Anonymous

    Maybe Jack needs to come spend some time for a few days with Benji, maybe feeding her too, in her native surroundings and then take her home. That way she'd feel more comfortable with him before everything changes. Wasn't there a movie about a stray Benji who did amazing things? Maybe you've got a case of canine reincarnation on your hands. Saludos,Kim GRedding, CAWhere we once had a cat disappear for a year and then show up one day as if nothing had happened.


  6. Thanks so much for sharing Benji's incredible story. Is your final decision to return her to Jack? I salute you both whatever your decision You are incredible human beings.


  7. Peter: I just went to see her across the road, where she lives with a bunch of dogs, some of whom I'm sure would be dead if didn't feed them. And I've come to the conclusion that new quarters for her might be a difficult adjustment, but in the not-too-long a run, a better deal for her. Al


  8. Hi Babs: Peter above suggested the same thing, but after seeing her this afternoon, I think a better living arrangement might be better for her. The guy who “owns” her doesn't really give a damn. I think those dogs are not even props, and he wouldn't even know how many he has. How's the business with the knees?


  9. Just checked on her because she didn't show up this morning to be fed. She's still around but looks listless, and her surroundings are awful. I'm going to call Jack, the guy who wants to adopt her, and asked him to come by tomorrow, and run her past the vet again. Her ear doesn't look good and her squalid surroundings surely are not helping her recovery. I'll keep you posted.al


  10. Our cat Ziggy got out once in Chicago and we thought that was curtains. We put notices everywhere but for a week there was no Ziggy. We thought he was a goner. But then he showed up at the back door and carried on as if nothing had happened.al


  11. That would be the ideal, and the thought occurred to me. Except that Benji's ear infection seems to be flaring up again, and her miserable, and filthy, living arrangements are not helping. We're going to call Jack and ask him to take her tomorrow, with the first stop at the vet for another check-up. I don't think we're doing her any favors by leaving her here.al


  12. If you read the replies above, yes, we'll like to give her to Jack to take care of her. I don't think she is doing well where she is… but then so are thousands of pets in San Miguel, particularly in the campo. Hope to see you at the next blitz.al and stew


  13. Hola, I've been hoping for a happy ending – or new beginning – to Benji's saga. Did Jack take her? If yes, how are they doing? If not, how is she doing on her own?I've been reading and enjoying your blog for years. gracias, Lena J


  14. I just read it. I began reading with apprehension because I knew from the first sentences it wasn't going to have a Disney ending. I finished reading with tears in my eyes. You wrote beautifully as you tried to accept your Mexican neighbor's relationship with his dog. I'll never forget the chapter of Benji returning 18km to the home she chose. The happy ending will be when, Jack finds a dog that wants the home and love, Jack wants to give. And we'll think “ah, yes, that's the way it should be”. Thank you. Lena James


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