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  • Writer's pictureAaron Bartlett

From Survive to Thrive: Achieving Stability!

Hello friends and family of Perros Libres, this is your captain Aaron speaking. Thank you for your patience, and please fasten your seatbelts: as our flight is prepared for liftoff.

What an amazing time to be alive. The year is 2023, and we're living life to the fullest in Tzununa, Guatemala. Life has improved: funding has improved, the conditions for the volunteers has improved, and the conditions for the dogs are better than they've ever been.

(I, also, have been making sure to take care of myself! More frequent showers, washing my clothes, keeping the place cleaner. Taken me long enough!)

We buy now 400 lbs of dog food a week, our highest frequency ever. The cost for 400 lbs of the brand Alimax that we use is exactly 1500 Q, or approximately $200 USD. This equates to $800 a month of just dry food, and we spend 1600 Q/month as well (or $213 USD) on cooked food, which is made by our amazing Maria 5 times a week for the dogs. That equates to a total of approximately $1013 USD/month of all dog-food related expenses.

200 lbs of dry food: 1/2 of our weekly dry food usage

So with Maria's cooking, which used to feed all the dogs, it's now no longer enough for the whole pack, which is totaling now over 60 dogs!!! We've never had this many dogs before, and are in an amazing position to be able to continually say yes as our resources and volunteer team have been growing and improving immensely. But that means we have to cook some of our food everyday for them, add Maria's food, and dry food together which makes enough healthy and nutritious food for 60 dogs. This is actually a tremendous undertaking just to feed them, but our system is so good and our team is so good we make sure every single dog eats a balanced meal everyday. This ensures everyone stays in optimal health: everyone comments at the sanctuary how healthy everyone's pelts are. This is one of the easiest-to-notice signs of the healthiest dogs.

Surya chewing a coconut

A good 'pack snapshot'. Granted this is only 1/3rd of the entire group.


So, healthy dogs: that's a good way to start the year!

Happy Perrita on the bed with Athena :)

This is actually the longest time period since starting the Perros Libres blog in August of 2021 that I've ever went without an email/blog update. The last post was "What a year 2022 has been!" which was on December 31st of 2022. That means it's been over 3 months since the last post! Well, looking backward I can definitely understand why.

I got locked out of most of my electronic devices: iPhone and iPad, after forgetting my one passcode (nice one!) I never knew Apple devices could literally lock you out of your device forever, unless you reset/erase the phone. So instead of messing with all of that, I've just been working much more "unplugged". I've been reachable only by email or direct messages on social media for the last month, and I must say it's been quite refreshing.

I find myself having more physical energy everyday, I'm more motivated to get things done, and I'm less thinking about "what's going on in social media" and more about what's relevant right in front of me: my pack and the daily condition of the dogs. This is priority #1 every-single-day at Perros Libres and the constant flow of daily newcomers, visitors and volunteers daily is proof of this. Everyone loves working at a Sanctuary with actual healthy, and happy dogs. I also, personally, am so much more grounded and focused with that much less "screen-time" in my life.

	>>Who needs a phone?! 

In Guatemala, life has been amazing learning to be "one with nature", and living with as little conveniences as possible. It is so invigorating and healthy, even though to an outsider we might look more "dirty" or "unconventional" to many people from our home-countries. Well, I'd say as a group we're having a good time, this is what we look like lately:

Aaron, Deandre, Amber, Elli, Illa, and Lotta.

I'd say we look pretty clean, yeah?

Really great compared to last year's rainy season: when we called the sanctuary "Mud Land".😅


Huge Announcement: We're building a new house!

Whoa!! That's cool: how'd that happen?!

A very large donation was raised by a Guatemalan benefactor from Santa Cruz. She paid a local construction team that she works personally with to purchase this material, and then construct the foundation of this house. This is as far as their fundraising has been able to go: now it's up to us to finish the job. We can do it, but of course we'll need a little help.

We're ready to finish the roof of this house, if we can just buy the material, higher a single construction manager, and schedule the building with as many volunteer hands as we can get that day. Just another day in the life of building a non-profit! We're excited for the challenge. I think I can personally add a beautiful and unique touch to this style of construction and make it pretty, efficient, and comfortable enough for the type of lifestyle we have here.

We'll take some steps to plan what our immediate needs our for that, because there is still a lot to do for us to be able to use this house. It will create a small fundraiser on it's own (just like our cabin fundraiser) and be able to hopefully finish most of the job before rainy season!


It's time to move forward, and get the next steps of our organization done.

There is plenty to do. Filing 501 (c) 3 paperwork (which we have not been able to do from Guatemala), signing a contract for long-term use of the land, building a bathroom, building a roof on our new house before it gets rained in: there is a ridiculous amount of stuff to do in just the next months. So know we have our hands full: but not one day goes by where these dogs don't get their needs met: their walks, their runs, their food, their water, their medicine, their play. These are the happiest dogs I've ever seen in my life. I am SO proud to be able to say that.

(They could use a bit of better training though!)


How'd you get so many new dogs?! Who are they?

Ally, Loki, Ram, Yuma, Rubia.

Here's a list of some of the new dogs we've gotten since 2023 has began:

  1. Ally (from German friends down the street)

  2. Crystalito, Sapphiro, and Esmeralda (garbage dump pile in Tzununa)

  3. Daisy and her 7 puppies

  4. Bronson & Juana (San Pedro)

  5. Wobbly (Sanjuyac up the mountain)

  6. Guru, Ram, Yuma, & Kiera (Santa Cruz)

  7. Loki (Tzununa)

  8. Pitaya (Panajachel)

  9. Chonk (Panajachel)

  10. Kusha (Tzununa)

  11. Charlie & Rubia (Santa Cruz) [these dogs are soon going to homes!]

  12. Motor & Blue (Santa Cruz) [also going to homes!]

  13. Lio (Tzununa)

That's 28 new dogs this year in 2023! WHOA!

It's taking a lot adjusting to all this change, and with the pack essentially doubling this year, that's why we use double the dry food (from 200 lbs/week to 400 lbs) that we've needed to change. It also means double the walks, too! So, needless to say this is why we have not been writing much lately: we've been working hard!

And just so everyone knows: ALL these new dogs are sponsor-able and adoptable!

So if you want to help at this time, you can sponsor a dog, or just donate on our normal method, I'll provide the button below:

Thank you everyone!!!

And of course, libertad por los perros.

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