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A Home for Horchata
Johnny Favourite Rock & Roll Party Benefit
Sun. Apr. 23

April 23, 2023

by Marni Hills

In the peaceful fraccionamiento of La Luz, a neighborhood behind the La Luciernaga shopping mall, a dangerous, sadistic man has poisoned and killed multiple callejeros, street dogs, by leaving strychnine-laced food out for the starving, unsuspecting animals.

Concerned neighbors who had been feeding these street dogs reached out to the Lucky Dogs Clubhouse rescue, asking if the remaining friendly pups could be picked up as soon as possible, because this soulless, inhuman man proclaimed he would murder the rest of them as soon as he could.

The neighbors told Lucky Dogs that there was a pretty, pure white female terrier mix that they really liked, but were unable to foster, as they had too many rescue dogs already. They said it was urgent that she be picked up because sadly, a lovely golden mixed breed dog that was often seen hanging around with this white female had disappeared. No one knew what happened to her - whether she was killed by poisoning or accident was unknown.

The young, sweet snow white female was nicknamed Horchata, after the popular white Mexican drink made with rice milk and spices. It was thought she had been abandoned sometime during the pandemic, as she was friendlier with people than many strays. Fortunately, in January 2022, upon hearing the danger this special dog was in, Lucky Dogs founder Marissa Pena decided she couldn't risk leaving this dog on the street, and made room for her, even though the shelter was bursting at the seams with rescued dogs.

Horchata was examined by the vet, and was found to be infested with worms, fleas, and ticks. She was isolated at the shelter, to protect the other dogs from contamination while she was vaccinated and treated for her parasites. Once cleared and healthy, it took some time to find the correct pack for her to join at the shelter. There are separate groups that work well together, and Horchata was an alpha personality. She had to be placed in the best group to prevent fights or injuries to herself and to other alpha or beta dogs.

Soon after she was safe and healthy and acclimated with her pack, Horchata was bathed, primped, and paraded at adoption events (frequently held on Saturdays at Petco in the City Market Plaza), but for different reasons, was not chosen. She was friendly, mature, dignified, and very pretty with her wispy snow-white coat, large upright ears, and kind smiling eyes. But she was also a larger dog, and it is extremely difficult for shelters to find homes for adult dogs, particularly large ones.

In July of 2022, a large group of Lucky Dogs volunteers assisted in transporting Horchata and 13 other females (in only two vehicles!) from the Lucky Dogs Clubhouse in Los Frailes to the vet clinic behind the Jurisdiccion Sanitaria on Relox, to be spayed/sterilized by the talented and generous Dr. Armando and his medical team. It's not fancy, each dog was laid on a blanket in the alley while they recovered from their anesthesia. Imagine the number of puppies prevented by sterilizing just 14 females taken off the street.

Horchata lived at Lucky Dogs for over a year, waiting to find her family, with 40 other incredible dogs. The stress on a dog that lives at a shelter for that length of time can be very damaging (noise, discomfort, lack of a loving home and family, living in a kennel with only several outings a day in the open yard- but that's the reality at any animal shelter, no matter how well funded).

Each time she was presented at an adoption event, Horchata and the other sweet adult dogs would watch sadly as cute pudgy puppies were all adopted quickly, one after the other. No one came for Horchata and her mature friends at Lucky Dogs.

On February 4, 2023, Horchata was one of several beautiful adult dogs shown at an adoption event at the art and design shopping center Distrito Soma.

She didn't know it that day, but a young woman who worked at Distrito Soma, Aranxta, saw Horchata at the event, and couldn't take her eyes off of her. Aranxta knew that it would be a big responsibility to add another dog to their family, but she felt something special for Horchata.

At home, Aranxta told her husband Alejandro about the dog, and he also felt something special looking at her picture. Neither of them could sleep, thinking about this adult dog waiting for her forever home and time after time, not being chosen. Alejandro told Aranxta, "let's take her, she deserves a home." Aranxta contacted Lucky Dogs, telling Marissa how they could not find peace after seeing Horchata, and knew that she was the dog they were meant to bring into their home.

"Can you bring her to our house tonight?" she asked, and although it required some shuffling of appointments and responsibilities, Marissa knew she could not let this opportunity for Horchata pass by, and drove her to their house that night.

When she arrived with Horchata, Marissa was a bit concerned to find that the couple already had quite a pack of dogs, including a tiny mixed breed named Homie, two little maltese mixes named Chita and Trigo ("Cheetah and Wheat"), and a larger golden retriever mix named Croqueta. Several of their dogs had food-related names, which also felt like a sign to Alex and Aranxta that Horchata was a perfect fit.

Introducing any dog to an existing pack in a home can be challenging. It's important for all the dogs to meet on neutral ground, and a long walk together is an important first-meeting ritual that allows the dogs to get to know each other without the defensive attitudes a dog might have about their pack or when faced with a canine stranger entering into their home territory.

After an extremely long, hour-plus walk, Horchata and the other dogs were tired, and that's the best time to test how they get along inside the home. That night there was some barking, a few scuffles, and a couple challenges at feeding time, (Horchata gulped down everyone else's food because she had never smelled or tasted the delicious homemade food that was served at this house, which even included dessert!!!)

After just a couple days though, Horchata began to blossom, she was no longer shy and defensive, she only wanted to play and bond with her new pack family. Her obvious favorite was Croqueta, who was closer to her size. They wrestle and rough-house, and get into mischief together. When Horchata plays with her small brothers and sisters, she is nothing but gentle, rolling submissively on her back to let them "play attack" her.

Horchata changed the routine of the entire household when she arrived. In the past, all the dogs slept in bed with Alejandro and Aranxta, but after Horchata joined their family, she preferred to sleep on a bed on the floor. Miraculously, all the other dogs decided that they too wanted to sleep on the floor, to be closer to each other and Horchata.

Marissa made a couple of house calls to be sure that everything was going well with the new pack. Each time Horchata saw Marissa, she "smiled" at her and wagged with a friendly recognition, but did not want to go near the door with her, for fear of being returned to the shelter.

Today Horchata is a beloved and valued member of her pack and wakes each day ready to play and have fun in her new home in the Mezquites Colonia of San Miguel. She enjoys the good life all dogs deserve, snuggling in lots of soft blankets and pillows with her new family, both canine and human!

At Lucky Dogs Clubhouse refuge, there are always wonderful adult dogs that are waiting for their homes and families. You can see available dogs on the Lucky Dogs website, and you can follow the rescue on Facebook.

It costs approximately 1600 pesos (around $90USD) a month to feed, sterilize, vaccinate, and de-parasite one dog. If you're not able to adopt, please consider making a donation to help them care for more dogs.

Donate through PayPal:


Come and cut a rug at the Lucky Dogs Rock n Roll Dance Party this Sunday, April 23rd from 6-9pm at Cent'anni.... Johnny Favourite has donated his and the band's time for the rescue. Only $250p cover, 100% goes to the rescue. There will be great raffle items like chiropractor visits, acupuncture, and more! Hear all your favorites -- The Doors, Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra– and other classics.


Marni Hills is a well-traveled writer, photographer, and lover of all things weird and unusual. Her obsessions include dogs, animal welfare, travel, fashion, true crime, and mountaineering disasters. She made San Miguel her home in early 2022.



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