Among her litter, Lola was the only pup to emerge with the classic Shar-Pei features: the wrinkles and the small, folded ears. From her Labrador Retriever father’s side, she inherited the long, golden locks and the full-bodied size. It’s anybody’s guess, however, where the jealous streak came from that causes her to throw tantrums on the rare occasions when her new packmate, Mawi, receives more attention.
If the jealousy didn’t originate when former packmate Mali passed some years back then at least that’s when it was noticed. Mali was Lola’s younger sister and when the two were old enough leave the litter, they were adopted by Chati Cuestas and brought to live at the Tolimán Hotel where Chati is the manager.
Lola and Mali were born in the village of San Lucas Tolimán on the end of southeastern finger of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala and their hotel home is the center of the village’s tourism industry. More important than the organic garden, the authentic ambiance, and the massage services, Hotel Tolimán is welcoming to canine guests as well as their persons.
So, with so many pet-friendly people coming and going, you would think there’s no shortage of attention that would explain Lola’s jealous streak. Then again, it really only came out after Mali left her.
The hotel partners with many of the homegrown and U.S.-based community development programs that work to improve life in the village. Through those activities Chati discovered that a young boy in the village was struggling with the challenges of living with cerebral palsy. Judging that the boy needed a best friend and that Mali’s demeanor would make for an ideal companion, Chati offered to have Mali go live with the boy.
The young boy’s mother was grateful and the boy himself was excited and so Mali moved away from the hotel to another home a few streets away in the village. It was a wonderful arrangement because the young boy began to smile and experienced some joy and Mali learned to become a loving, therapeutic support dog.
Anyway, when Mali moved away, Lola was never brought along to help her settle into her new home. Nevertheless, soon after they were separated, Lola escaped from the hotel and somehow – there are theories but nobody knows for sure how – she found the young boy’s house where Mali had gone to live.
Lola began scratching at the front door while Mali barked incessantly from inside until the door was opened and the two sisters were reunited. From then on they were allowed to leave their homes. Mali would come to the hotel where the sisters would play just like old times and Lola would go to the young boy’s home and they would play there as well.
This went on for a time and things were very good but eventually Mali contracted canine distemper and she died. Mali’s passing happened while the two were separated at their respective homes and there was no way to communicate the sad news to Lola. Nevertheless, from that day on, Lola never again left the hotel to visit the young boy’s home were Mali had lived.
Mawi came to live with Chati and Lola at the hotel a short time later and the three quickly formed a tightknit pack where tranquility reigns – mostly, one would expect, because the newest integrant, Mawi, is content to hang back and let extrovert Lola welcome the guests.
Thank you to Chati Cuestas of Tolimán Hotel for inviting us into your pack and sharing this touching story.