The Amazing Story of the Most Expensive Street Dog in the World
“I got an email in English from someone from the US saying that she had fallen in love with a street dog and that she wanted to get it sent to Seattle. I was pretty skeptical because it seemed very odd and I didn’t take it too seriously” The Amazing Story of the Most Expensive Street Dog in the World
2013 (author not named) Previously published in Spanish.
This dog spent its days wagging its tail and wandering around the streets of Valparaiso, looking for food and love from the sailors and visitors of the famous Chilean port. Then one day, luck was on his side, and while he was at a lookout, a tourist from the US named Kaylan O’Connor fell in love with him at first sight. Cupid’s arrow took instant effect and they spent the next 8 hours together while Kaylan and her family were in the port as their last stop on a cruise.
“He jumped up into our arms as if he was saying ‘hi’. He was so sweet and he followed us around for the rest of our trip playing with us the whole time. We knew he needed a home and we love dogs”, explained O’Connor to BBC World from Seattle.
That’s how the love story began between Kaylan and Chili Dog, the chocolate colored street dog that seduced Kaylan into spending $2,000 USD to give him a home on the other side of the world. “Money well spent” according to Kaylan. Kaylan had to get back on the cruise ship to go home. They had to say a sad goodbye, but not forever. Once they got to Seattle, the O’Connors searched for organizations in Chile to see if it was possible to bring Chile dog to Seattle.
“I got an email in English from someone from the US saying that she had fallen in love with a street dog and that she wanted to get it sent to Seattle. I was pretty skeptical because it seemed very odd and I didn’t take it too seriously”, recounts Alexis Castillo, the director of the Red de Defensores y Rescatistas de Animales (Animal Rescue and Defense Network), whose headquarters are in Santiago, about 120 kilometers from Valparaiso.
He eventually answered the email and started a communication with Kaylan, and she told him the story and sent pictures of the dog. Alexis explained that finding the dog would not be easy or cheap. First, because organizing the search for one dog among the hundreds that prowl the streets of the hills and the port of Valparaiso was taking a risk that could take weeks and not end with positive results. And second, because even after finding the dog, the paperwork to be able to send it out of the country would be long and tedious.
Still not believing it, Alexis decided to put it to the test. “I told her that I needed a hundred dollars to go look for the dog and if she sent me the money that same day before midnight I would go the next day. I didn’t have a lot of faith that she would do it, but within 20 minutes she has sent me two hundred dollars through Western Union. It seemed to be the real deal”, Castillo tells us. They looked for the dog for several days, combing through the center with no success. So they decided to print out 400 flyers to distribute through the port. After a month of searching, when all our hope was running out, Alexis got an email from a volunteer who helps sterilize animals in Valparaiso. “Dear Sirs, I read an article about a dog that people in the US are looking for; I found it”. Comparing the pictures, there was no doubt, the dog was identical to Chili Dog.
Once they found the dog, they gave it a anti rabies shot, they sterilized him, de-wormed him and and they had to convince the airline to transport him. The dog was two years old, young and full of energy, which led them to believe that he wasn’t born on the street but had been abandoned there.
Alexis took care of the dog while they were waiting to send him to Seattle. “He is very hyper, playful and affectionate. He’s a very smart mutt. At first he wouldn’t get in the truck, but once he realized that every time he got in we took him to a fun place, he would hop in on his own and sit”, Alexis explained.
After two months, the dog finally traveled to Seattle. After a 20 hour trip, Chili Dog arrived safe and sound to Seattle on May 28th. He’s off the streets and living happily with the O’Connor family and two new canine friends, Auto and Klaus, the pets that the family already had. Usually my dogs don’t like other dogs but as soon as Chili Dog arrived, they let him in the house and shared their food and water with him. I think they knew that Chili needed a home”, Kaylan O’Connor explained.
Now the beggar has become the king. He eats several times a day, goes to the park and they even painted a watercolor in his honor. Chili Dog has achieved the American Dream.