Leon came to us via Mayan Families in Panajachel in July of 2011. He was spotted by Angela Padilla of Northern California Family Dog Rescue, and she asked to have him sent to her rescue in adoption. 

She asked us to help recuperate him as he was in terrible condition and could not fly to the US in such a debilitated condition. We stepped in and received Leon along with another dog on July 16, 2011. Neither dog had been neutered, both had fleas, and the second dog had severe skin problems from a flea bite allergy.

he is very quiet and shy. He allows petting, but generally moves to a quiet spot away from people if he can. He is food motivated and comes eagerly for treats. He has been hit, and shies away from overhead hands. He seems to prefer women to men. I would describe Leon as hopeful-things seem nice here, and he is more and more comfortable with his situation, but still cautious and careful to avoid punishment or mistreatment. Breaks one’s heart, this dog. 

** Update on Leon (September 3). He slipped out the front door of Vet Pro early in the morning of July 29, 2011. He got frightened and ran off into a coffee farm. All efforts to catch him failed, although we posted lost flyers everywhere, took out radio spots, talked to neighbors, offered a big reward, etc. He was spotted a LONG way from Vet Pro by Dr. Calderon the day we lost him. We almost caught him but he slipped away. We had various spottings over the next few weeks, but Leon became shyer and more afraid as time went on and people tried to catch him. We were all sick for this poor dog. 

Finally, on August 1st, we got a call from a member of the volunteer fire department, asking if we’d caught our dog yet, and asking how much the reward was. He was told a LOT. A couple of hours later, he called again and said he had caught the dog.

Almost afraid to hope, we rushed to the fire station, and there was our Leon, hog tied to a tree. He actually looked much better than he did when we lost him! He was fatter and had more hair.  He had some scrapes and cuts, a broken toenail, and seemed very tired, but we got him back. What a survivor this old boy is!

Leon’s adventures did not stop there. Leon flew to San Francisco to Angela Padilla on September 12, 2011. He was a favourite at Family Dog, and one volunteer especially fell in love with him. On one of her walks with him, Leon managed to slip his collar and run away. He spent over a week loose in a large park, foraging and surviving (and eluding everyone trying to catch him!). He was finally caught and returned to Family Dog.  After almost 8 months at the rescue, Leon was adopted by volunteer Kate along with his best friend Mugsy, also at the rescue. He spent the rest of his life  running and playing (off leash, yet!) on a farm.

Leon died in mid August, 2013.  He was a truly special dog, loved by many and very much missed.

Here is the tribute to Leon from Family Dog Rescue:

You never know when someone special will walk into your life.

Angela first met Leon on the streets of Panajachel, in the Maya Highlands of Guatemala. He was emaciated, dehydrated, toothless, and most shocking, almost completely bald, with large red open sores all over his body. The local children and shopkeepers were throwing stones at him to keep him away. Proving that miracles do happen, Angela was able to connect with a veterinarian in Panajachel, a volunteer transporter to Antigua, and two ex-pat American and Canadian women in Antigua who were willing to foster Leon long enough for him to have the strength to fly to the US and pass Customs inspection. Two months later, our wonderful Leon made his magical journey to San Francisco.


Leon probably was not the best-looking dog at the shelter when he arrived. He lived upstairs in big room across from the kennels, past a door through which volunteers could peek and consider his patchy skin, broken teeth, and slow gait. But there just was something special about him. Wisdom, humor, mischief, patience, determination, hope, kindness… When you went in to meet Leon, you found a gentle soul whose silent stories made you wonder and appreciate the time you had to spend together. Leon had a huge heart, and he gave it all to you.


Mugsy, Kate, and Leon

After waiting many months for his new American adventure, Leon met wonderful Family Dog volunteer Kate Leahy. Kate fell in love. Kate took not only Leon into her heart and home, but also Leon‘s quirky sidekick Mugsy, a plain tan terrier mix from the Central Valley whose personality, like Leon‘s, far outshined his looks. On a large farm that became their home, Leon and Mugsy played and explored, and lived out the second chances we hope every rescue animal gets.

Leon left us two weeks ago today. He was happy and very much loved.

Hasta luego, dear friend. Your Family Dog friends will be missing you for a long time.

We are a small organization dedicated to helping dogs and cats in Antigua. We sterilize, rehabilite and find homes, and work with other rescue groups.