MEXICO CITY: Bella, the dog who survived more than two months at sea on raw fish and rainwater with stranded Australian sailor Tim Shaddock, has found a new life in Mexico with a “second dad” and a pug “brother.”
Bella ended up stuck with Shaddock on a storm-struck catamaran in the Pacific Ocean for weeks until they were rescued last weekend by a passing tuna vessel and brought to shore in Mexico.
Shaddock, 54, decided not take Bella back home with him to Australia, worried the long journey would be too stressful on top of Bella’s recent ordeal.
But the story has a happy next chapter: Bella has been adopted by Genaro Rosales, 48, a crew member of the tuna vessel that brought her to shore, and a self-proclaimed “lover of dogs and all animals”.
“I was one of the first to have contact with her,” Rosales told AFP in the western port of Manzanillo, where Shaddock and Bella arrived on Tuesday.
“I was the one who hugged her, to get her on one of the two small boats” in which he and three companions approached the stricken catamaran.
“She was happy when she saw us.”
Shaddock, 54, and Bella had set off from La Paz in Mexico in April, and planned to sail about 6,000km before dropping anchor in French Polynesia.
They soon found themselves stranded after rough seas damaged the boat and knocked out its electronics.
In a rescue reminiscent of the Tom Hanks movie “Cast Away”, the bedraggled amateur yachtsman and his dog were plucked from the water “more than 1,930km from land,” according to fishing company Grupomar, which owns the tuna vessel.
After arriving back on dry land, Shaddock said Bella “is much braver than I am”.
Of her origins, he told reporters the dog had “sort of found me in the middle of Mexico” and then stuck by his side.
“She wouldn’t let me go. I tried to find a home for her maybe three times and she just kept following me onto the water.
“She’s a beautiful animal. I’m just grateful she’s alive.”
‘A little stressed’
On the day of the rescue, Rosales took responsibility for calming Bella and giving her initial treatment. “Timothy saw the treatment I gave Bella, the attention I gave her,” Rosales told AFP.
“I told him that I liked animals, I have a dog, I have cats, I have had everything! And well, he decided that I would be Bella’s second dad,” the fisherman smiled.
Rosales described Bella – a mixed breed with a dark coat and golden spots – as “very docile”.
Physically she was well, he said, but according to a vet who examined her, “a little stressed because of the time she was at sea”.
Once they get home to the seaside city of Mazatlan, she will meet “her new brother” Vicente, a pug Rosales said was “very spoiled”.
“My pets sleep in my bed, I turn the air conditioning on for them. They have all the privileges,” he said.
Yesterday, which was World Dog Day in Mexico and some other countries, Rosales made an appeal for kind treatment for our furry friends.
“Any kind of animal you have in your home is a member of your family,” he said. “One needs to treat them well.”