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The story of our new 4-legged family member, is different from most. Emilia is 14 months old, and for a dog at her age, she has seen enough of life that many others see as well, and shouldn’t have too. It started when she was about 2 months old, and found abandoned in Rinconada, Chile.

Unfortunately, in this part of Chile this is often a familiar story. There is an estimated 220,000 homeless dogs live amongst 7 million people in Santiago, Chile. Just outside of Santiago, is an area where a ten-mile stretch of road, where the poor live; where the city dumps its trash, sewage and unwanted dogs. This place is called, Rinconada. This is where Emilia is from.

“It is here that Gabriela Jarpa comes twice weekly to feed approximately fifty dogs. She bonds with them, assists them through illnesses and injuries, endures their inexplicable disappearances, the deplorable acts of cruelty by local residents who resent the dogs’ presence, and municipality workers who poison them periodically. Through it all, Gabriela endeavors to adopt the dogs to good homes, but as fast as she succeeds, more dogs are abandoned. It’s a thankless, endless task.  (-”

Fortunately for Emilia, Gabriela was able to locate her, feed her, and get her adopted. Before I move on with Emilia’s story, you must understand the phenomenal efforts of Gabriela. In the past four years, Gabriela has single-handedly impacted her entire neighborhood by having more than 120 street dogs adopted and over 200 sterilized.

Despite her obvious commitment, her success, and the enormous obstacles she faces, companies that make dog food have as yet refused aid because Gabriela is not set up as an organization. So Gabriela’s recourse is to work a full-time job and offer up her free time and income to the cause.

One of the outreach objectives of Lost Dogs is to set up a system whereby Gabriela receives the support she needs through a community that donates funds, goods and services. The local municipality already provides her with eight free sterilizations per month, but she must bring in the dogs and return them to the streets herself. Whenever Gabriela is at the municipality, she encounters more dogs that need her help.

I met Gabriela through Vanessa Schulz, and her non-profit I work for, 21st Paradigm. Vanessa is currently editing her footage she took from Rinconada and Santiago into the Lost Dogs movie.

You can see the trailer here: . Not only did I meet Gabriela through this effort, but I also met 2 other wonderful dog lovers, Carol Linacre, and Reese Mercer.

As we return to Emilia’s story, she was adopted shortly after she was rescued from Rinconada.  Unfortunately, her first adoption at such a tender age did not turn out to be a happy ending. Yet. Emilia’s first adoptive parents were found to have neglected, and abused her. This was a horrible turn events for a puppy that had been rescued from a desolate area, and now into a home that has caused harm to her, caused her to become even more distant from humans, and sick as well.

Fortunately, Gabriela was given a tip of what was happening to Emilia, and was able to rescue her from harm once again.

Thankfully, with Gabriela’s help, she was able to nurse Emilia back to perfect health. This past May 2010, 2 other dogs were being brought to the United States to adoptive parents. Felipa and Tonito were flown to Southern California.

Emilia was supposed to join them, however, she reached another road block. She developed a case of mange. Although treatable, it was another setback for this puppy who had been through so much already. Her time would be delayed yet again, but not the ending of her story.

I have kept an eye on Emilia through Gabriela, Reese and Carol. They have kept me updated on her status, and her fantastic return to health. Emilia was now ready once again to find a loving home, and my family’s home seemed to be a good fit.

I have an affection for these dogs, along with other animals that we work to protect, and share their stories.

As I followed her progress, I grew a bond with Emilia, even if it was just through pictures and through words. After some thought, my wife and I decided we would love to have her in our home.

Through the wonderful, and amazing efforts of Reese Mercer, and Carol Linacre, we were able to transport Emilia to the Southern California. As she was leaving Chile, Emilia was fitted with a collar, and special dog tag that says “Emilia de Riconada”, which means “Emilia from Rinconada”. Although she was on her way to becoming apart of the Los Angeles County Community, her dog tag will remind everyone where she came from, and even at 14 months old, what she has been through.

I know I will hear many people asking me, why not just adopt from the local shelters? To answer that, someday, we probably will again so Emilia will have a playmate. However, I also don’t see how it should matter what piece of land the dog was born on, to me Emilia’s life needed a happy ending, and as I know Gabriela was doing a fantastic job with her, I wanted to show Emilia that life can be better. However, I do not advocate to adopt from all over the world, especially since our local SPCA’s have fantastic animals waiting for homes. However, with Emilia, again, I grew a bond with her, as well as my daughters, and wife. We all wanted to see her in a better area, and have her happy ending.

Emilia was put into her crate with her soft blankets that were filled with love as she left Gabriela’s arms, and left Santiago, Chile on the evening of Saturday, September 25, 2010. Thinking about her plane trip, she was leaving behind alot of emotional and physical abuse that she had endured.

However, she also was leaving the most loving arms she had known in Gabriela, who treated her with tons of respect, showered her with love, and did her best to find her a great home. Emilia needed one, one with patience. Emilia is extremely shy, and timid, but incredibly loving and quiet. Emilia has never shown to be aggressive, rarely barks, plays well with other dogs, and has a pleasant demeanor that is completely undeniably genuine.

This morning at 6:30AM, Emilia arrived in Los Angeles, CA. After a long wait at the cargo company, and a trip to Customs, Emilia is now home.

After her first day, Emilia has been doing fantastic. Eating from our hands already, although wanting to hide constantly in fear that we will do something mean like her past adopters would do. Fortunately, this time it won’t happen, and will never happen again.
My daughters, and wife love her like crazy already, and although it’s been over 100 degrees in Southern California, Emilia seems to be enjoying the Air Conditioning 🙂

Hopefully, Emilia’s story will cause even more dogs locally, and internationally, to have happy endings.

For more information on Gabriela’s effort:
Lost Dogs:
21st Paradigm’s facebook page:


To Gabriela, Reese and Carol:
Mi familia quiere darle las gracias desde el fondo de nuestros corazones. Nos encanta Emilia como un loco, y ella poco a poco va mostrando progresos ya! Es gracias a personas como usted, que todavía tengo la esperanza en la raza humana y que podemos lograr nuestros objetivos de hacer del mundo un lugar mejor.


Para los perros,
Anthony y Emilia 🙂