top of page
  • Writer's pictureAaron Bartlett

Upgraded Dog-Land! The Storm and the Sun. ⛈🌞

Doggies resting on the brand-new Dog Bed shelves.

I currently am sitting alone on the Dog Land. Underneath the now dry and refurbished patio, a warm sun outside, and all the dogs resting for their afternoon nap. It's not as common as it used to be, but I really value alone time here (even though you're never really alone on Dog Land, with 40 dogs to hang out with). What a nice morning I've had so far. 15 dogs I personally got walked this morning, and a volunteer is currently out with 6. I am so impressed with how many dogs we can walk off-leash now, without any problems at all. That will be over 20 dogs walked by 1 p.m. All the dogs that have been raised here from the youngest ages are just angels on walks, and show ultimate respect & politeness to the dog-walker and other dogs on the street. Everyone gets leash-training.

We gave a nice breakfast: the dogs got to eat chicken feet and liver on top of their usual dry food, which is a special treat they don't get everyday. The dogs currently here are doing amazing, and loving their new space (pictured above). It's a peaceful, and sunny day for once.


I wonder if this is the longest I've gone without writing a blog. Almost 6 weeks, I believe. It makes sense. I had no direct access to electricity on Dog Land for 1 week, ended as of a few days ago. The water was out for 3 days at one point. I haven't touched my laptop in weeks, and have been too dirty and muddy to even want to. As most know, we spent the last week basically under a very large tarp in a separate part of the Dog-Land, while construction was getting done on our main-patio. We put up a new fence inside the Dog Land very rapidly in order to separate the dogs from the paid workers who were trying to help us improve the space. We were also fighting an abnormally large amount of illness, through contagions and the rain. But in spite of all this: the space has been expanding, tidied daily, cleaned of lots of weeds and excessive overgrowth, and improved to be much more dog-controlled and rain-safe.


So the story goes like this: {The Storm}

A super-cool anonymous philanthropist who saw that we rescued these 3 dogs from their town of Santa Cruz de la Laguna:

3 puppies from Santa Cruz

- called me up one day and asked me everything there is to know about our operation and how it works. How is adoption going, do we sterilize our dogs, where do they sleep, where do I sleep, what kind of food do we use: I didn't know who she was, and we had never met. But she said after she read our blog, she had to know about us as she's been a supporter of Dog-projects on the lake for a long time, being a resident from Guatemala, who knew everything about how bad it is for them here.

The first time she saw our post was when we were talking about how bad the rain is, and how it was affecting our dogs. It was so bad, we had the Dog-patio get flooded over and over again when the huge rains would come. We had to start digging trenches all over the Dog-land in order to redirect the water where we wanted it to go.

The bad news: Distemper and Pneumonia got into the Sanctuary.

The fact is: dogs were getting so wet and cold, they were catching pneumonia, among other things. We ended up losing many dogs over the time of the rainy season, mostly from catching this cold which when it didn't heal, would develop into pneumonia and become fatal for dogs. We gave treatment after treatment for the kennel cough and pneumonia, but not everyone was able to survive. The youngest and most vulnerable of the pack are the ones who didn't overcome this gruesome wave of illness. Since the rains began: we lost this list of dogs to either Pneumonia or Distemper:

  1. Pupsy

  2. Europa

  3. Corina

  4. Maya #2

  5. 3 puppies from Santa Cruz

  6. 4 puppies from Vibiana's litter

  7. Black

  8. Foxy Lady

  9. Avalon

This was a very, very hard time for all of us here at Perros Libres.

Naturally. Though it was over at least 3 months of time, we had never seen a wave of illness anything like this before. Dogs were catching colds over and over again: and we'd have the vets come week after week. We kept very strict on all of their medicinal prescriptions, with an advanced list on the board of every dog's 2 or 3 times daily meds. It's been one of the hardest things I've ever been through to have had so many pass away. But looking back, it's easier to see what worked and what didn't.

It seems like this is the greatest simplification, but explains it the best: no matter how much medicine we gave, their conditions did not improve fast enough. Kennel Cough is contagious, and pneumonia can develop out of just catching a small cold. The dogs have been packed together under the Dog-patio, which unfortunately couldn't keep us safe from the worst of the rains.

So this is when the Philanthropist stepped in.

She said:

Let's reinforce the Dog-land, and make it so safe and dry and pretty that everyone will like coming into it, and the dogs will be happy.

Dogs in the sun are happy dogs


From the Storm to {The Sun} 🌞

So the plan was, we would reinforce the Dog Patio. Make it stable, rain-safe, comfortable, and beautiful. For the longest time, the floor has been just pure dirt and rocks. The only walls we had were for the kitchen shelves and blocking the front from the outside. So we began by making a large cement floor under the patio, on the Dog Land. This was the process:

  1. Remove everything under the Dog Patio. That was all the dog beds, the furniture, our kitchen, and storage.

  2. Make an external space the dogs would stay in, while they worked for 1 week. (This was the hardest, for us.)

  3. Hire a crew to deliver literally 100 bags of sand, ground rocks, and cement mix.

  4. Create the floor, while the dogs were safely locked in another area of the Dog Land.

  5. Making cement-base walls with cinderblock base and lamina partial-walls.

  6. Building dog-beds all around the circumference of the new walls of the patio.

Here I'll put a gallery so you can see all the steps.


So for now, the dogs are quite happy.

I cannot stress how happy, and appreciative I am, for this opportunity from you all. Despite the things that get us down, like the passing of beautiful creatures you spend months feeding and loving to try and give life, every dark day has a bright one that follows. From the ashes of destruction, come sprouts of new life if we know what to make of it. No matter what, we will not stop operations; this job is more important to me than anything I've EVER done before. They've become my family. I cannot let them down.

But of course this has weighed hard on me emotionally. Not to mention how hard it is for volunteers to experience. But with every person that leaves, another comes. Every time we seem to be out of a certain resource, someone shows up the same day and offers it to us. God seems to constantly refill our cup, and at this point in time we do not lack for food, medicine, or physical needs. The dogs really get their fill of both food, fun, play, and love everyday. This is why those that are here don't even want to leave: we tried adopting out Josecíto to a local worker's family who asked for him last week. He escaped the next day and was barking at our door at midnight. I had to get on shoes and go out in the rainy dark night to let him in, the little bugger wanted to be back here so badly.

Nacho and Josecito


There is still more to come.

Custom washable dog beds are being built in order to furnish the entire "dog shelves" that have been built all around the new-and-improved Dog Patio. People have been showing up all the time, without notice, to help our efforts. The monthly sponsorship system is working well: and I still need to send out the August sponsorship update for the current sponsors. Please accept my humble apologies for not sending those emails sooner: our situation has been extreme the last weeks. But I will be sending those out very soon to all of our sponsors that have dogs to be updated on.

>>> If you wish to sponsor a dog, please visit our Sponsor-A-Dog page! <<<

For a dog sponsorship, you will be able to custom-aid a specific dog of your choosing, and receive monthly emails about them. You can choose what you wish to donate per month, but understand it is a recurring payment: a monthly support system for each dog. If for any reason you do not wish to continue a sponsorship: we will always, without question, cancel any sponsorship and you have the ability to do this too. If you cannot support in this way, we can accept one-time donations and I will provide an easy one-time donate button below if you can support us today.

Aaron with special guests from Israel loving Chispita


It's been a while ride, folks.

Rainy season really took us for a roller-coaster ride. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I went through a long-term experience some have called a "dark night of the soul", through this rainy season, sleeping alone with the dogs on Dog Land on many cold, cold nights. Not always having as much food as we needed, but slowly building the system that feeds us now. That's from all of your help through this whole year. Thank you, everyone.

We got the help we really needed: and now we're in a safer, drier, and nicer place than ever before. People all around the lake are reaching out to me offering their support. We will succeed for these dogs. We will make this Sanctuary the safest, best, and most-fun place for dogs in all of Guatemala. I have actually seen some really decent examples of places that are doing even somewhat similar things to us in Guatemala. There is a place called "El Chucho Felíz" in Antigua, Guatemala that is doing an amazing job as a doggie day-care center. We even had the pleasure of taking some dogs there who were treated like kings.

This will be the end of the update or today. You guys reached out when we were going through tough times, you supported us on even the darkest of days, and when we asked for help last month everyone pulled through. I say this every post but I will keep saying it:

We could not be here without you.

Because of your trust, your support, and your encouragement: I and all the dogs are still here sitting under this roof, after over a year of living together in Guatemala. We have 40 healthy, happy dogs here, even after so much loss. I believe the dark wave of illness is over, and the group remaining has most likely developed a high-level of immunity to the contagious illnesses that have passed through. The vet's also pointed this out, but asked us not to take in any more dogs until we can improve the medical quarantining process. So for the moment, we won't be taking in new dogs until facilities and staff are equipped to do so. I used to say yes to every dog, and as a consequence, we have learned our limits for how much we can handle depending on the levels of staff. These levels change daily, weekly, and monthly: I don't have a consistent staff besides myself to live on Dog Land yet. Volunteers have filled-the-gaps, but now it's time for an upgrade. We want to hire a full-time staff member, in order to help maintain all responsibilities of the Dog Land. Your donations will help us do this, and help us have the human staff and physical help needed to have these dogs under 24-hour, 7-days a week, 12-months a year care.

Thank you, and we love you. Libertad por los Perros.

113 views0 comments


bottom of page