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Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

This is not normal.

I can remember being stuck in that kind of traffic in our Stateside lives—anxiously and impatiently tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, moving along inch by inch, so fed up with that being the “norm”, knowing in my heart that it didn’t have to be, and feeling so ready for a change.  

Breathing in toxic exhaust fumes and missing out on active, joyful engagement in life–on hold in bottleneck traffic–was not how we wanted to spend our precious, once-in-a-lifetime lives. I would take pictures from the dashboard of my car to the sea of bumpers in front and send them to my husband at work with the message, “One thing I will NOT miss”.

And I don’t, not one little bit. Family? Yes. Five-lane freeway traffic? No.

Thanks to creating a radical shift in our lives by moving to Mexico with our children in 2012, we no longer live under that paradigm of life in a 21st-century modern society.

Moving to Mexico with Kids

Since immigrating to Mexico seven years ago, we have gone from daily traffic congestion and the frequent witnessing of road rage to driving on jungle roads and 16th-century cobblestone streets. We have traded in mind-numbing, lost hours in the car to engagement in soul-enriching, meaningful activities of our choice. Time is precious. Spend it well.

Daughter Horseback riding in San Pancho

If one of my jobs as a Mother is to facilitate and nurture the emotional well-being and development of my children, then moving to Mexico with our kids has been one great step towards that endeavor.

Children Playing in Pool

We immigrated when our twins Liam and Mairead were eight years old, during the middle of their third-grade year. Patience, planning and having the right legal liaison at our side paid off and within three months of our arrival, we became Permanent Residents of Mexico.

Baja California, Our First Mexico Home

Our twins were seasoned travelers prior to our move to mainland Mexico, having spent the first eight years of their lives adventuring back and forth between San Diego and Baja California. Frank’s firefighter schedule and my school teacher’s allowed us blocks of time off together as a family and we took full advantage of them to head South!


Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective


Mairead and Liam fondly referred to their Baja home as their “other home” and Mexico forever became ingrained in my children’s hearts as a place of fun, discovery and family connection. 

Adiós San Diego

Aside from the inevitable emotion of parting ways with our loved ones, the move itself and the preparations leading up to our departure from San Diego were relatively easy as it was something we were ready for

Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

We arrived in San Pancho, Nayarit on a Friday, and that following Monday our previously homeschooled twins began their first ever five-day-a-week program at the former Escuela del Mundo. Surrounded by tropical trees and open green space, our children experienced freedom and discovery like never before.

Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

While the Spanish immersion of their new school was a bit of an initial challenge for The Reds, they acclimated rather quickly, having been exposed to Spanish in a border city and by their Spanish-Teacher Mom for the first eight years of their life in San Diego. Even without that advantage, we all know how sponge-like children’s brains are, and if given the opportunity, are able to assimilate and adapt with great ease. I do believe they were the only Mairead and Liam their classmates had ever met, and their new friends and teachers warmly accepted them and made great efforts at learning and pronouncing their unique, Celtic names.

Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

From San Pancho to Sayulita

After Escuela del Mundo in San Pancho, Mairead and Liam went to Costa Verde International in Sayulita, Nayarit—a neighboring village just 10 minutes down the main jungle road, famous for its bohemian, surfing culture. Moving to another school was indeed another change and adjustment for our children, but one that they embraced wholeheartedly with the amazing, trusting, positive attitudes that they approach most things in life with.

Located a few blocks from the beach, Costa Verde is a bilingual, multi-cultural school that focuses on environmental sustainability and the advancement of ecological responsibility in Mexico…and surfing! In fact, surfing was part of their PE program!

Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

Mairead and Liam continued to explore, discover and develop their own sense of community and connection within the larger context of our family’s move to Mexico. Their language skills progressed and improved to where at this point, a year or so into our relocation, they could easily flip back and forth between English and Spanish.

From Coastal Mexico to Central Mexico

After a year and a half of coastal jungle living, we were ready to experience another part of Mexico and set our compasses on something completely different. Sight unseen but with lots of research, we chose San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato in the interior of the country. San Miguel de Allende was the first municipality to be declared independent from Spanish rule, and as such, life here is steeped in history, culture, national pride with one festivity after another

Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

Our children are learning and growing in a loving, nurturing and intellectually stimulating environment of freedom and growth, with two hands-on parents who are no longer trying to keep their heads above water to survive in the rat race.

Immigrating to Mexico with Children, A Mother's Perspective

A Life Without Limits

They see a life without limits, that anything is possible, that dreams do come true and that carving one’s way in this diverse world is achievable. Our children have witnessed their parents reinvent themselves from Firefighter and Teacher to Solar Designer and Freelance Writer. They have gone from being monolingual homeschoolers to bilingual life learners, interacting with the world around them with their bicultural perspective. 

Moving to Mexico with Children

We O’Gradys embrace our re-invented, re-inspired lives south of the border and give thanks daily for Mexico’s warmth, hospitality, graciousness, and generosity…for welcoming and adopting us and inviting us to feel at home.

Moving to Mexico with our kids has been an undeniable adventure that continues to shape the trajectory of our lives, and we are forever grateful.



For more about our family’s immigration to Mexico: Moving to Mexico with Children, A Father’s Perspective

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*Protect yourself and your loved ones with an Expat Travel Insurance Policy & Carbon Monoxide Detector *

For more information on Moving to Mexico with Kids, feel free to email me at [email protected]




The Roof Is on Fire! 7 Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico

The Roof Is on Fire! 

It was our first big summer storm since our return to the jungle from San Miguel de Allende. The lightning came cracking down over our house like an arrow landing a bullseye, resulting in my jumping at least a foot into the air and one of our rooftop AC compressors catching on fire! 

Fortunately for me, I am married to a firefighter and knew that our family (and my nerves) were in good hands. Although it was a lightning bolt from the storm that caused the fire, the downpour is what extinguished it. Glass half full, no?

Thanks to ingenuity and the reuse and repurpose culture of Mexico, the wires were changed out and the AC unit spared! 

7 Helpful Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico

The Power of Lightning!

Jungle storms can be powerful, messy and destructive. They are equally exciting, cleansing and replenishing—popping out dense, lush, canopies of green and a multitude of ecosystems that thrive inside of them—reminding one of the absolute  magnificence of Mother Nature.

The rainstorms also provide an opportunity to identify where exactly more silicone is needed inside the house, such as around the collection of leaking windows at the base of a 20-foot high boveda ceiling! Tall ladder anyone? Those first few falls on our slick marble floors were not so fun (especially after back surgery!) and made us delay not in tending to this issue ASAP.

Keep a tall ladder and supply of silicone on hand!

The jungle wasted no time in welcoming us back and reminding us of the fortitude, sense of humor and determination one needs to both survive and thrive here. Yes, there are prices to pay for living in paradise folks!

The following 7 Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico are based upon our own personal experiences from our seven years in country. I hope you find them useful and that they help you to maximize your enjoyment and minimize your frustrations.

1. High-Quality Roof Sealant

Ensuring that the roof of your home has been properly sealed and therefore protected against leaks and moisture intrusion should be a top priority. We learned the necessity of this the hard way when our San Pancho rental grew large circular mold spores from the outside in after our first rainy season there. A disgusting and unsafe “inconvenience” to say the least and one that a layer of paint would not remedy! Needless to say, the roof had never been sealed. 

Hire a reputable company to assess the roof’s condition and if needed, to powerwash it prior to putting on a quality sealant that has not been watered down.

7 Helpful Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico

What a difference a powerwash can make! The Before and After in Progress!

There are various types of impermeabilizantes (sealants) available. Spending a bit more to ensure a quality result is well worth it. We went with an eco-friendly, waterproof one believing it best to have maximum protection considering the amount of rain we receive here on the coast of Nayarit. 

2. Air Conditioners Serviced

Have all AC’s serviced at least once every six months. The filters should be cleaned of mold/dust/debris and the electrical panels checked for any unwanted critters that can wreak havoc. Apparently electrical wires are a delicacy to geckos—ridding your AC’s of them is far easier than having to replace the entire unit, trust me.

3. Over-The-Bed Mosquito Nets

Screens on all doors and windows are not just a luxury but an absolute necessity lest you want to share your home with mosquitos, spiders, geckos, scorpions, iguanas and stray animals. Additionally, these over the bed mosquito nets  are must-haves and will allow for peaceful, uninterrupted sleep ( ie. no annoying buzzing in your ear!)

7 Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico

Mosquito-Free Sleeping

4. Drain Covers

If you want to avoid golf ball-sized cockroaches and sewer smells, you’ll want to get some of these

The Roof Is on Fire! 7 Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico

5. Moisture Absorbing Bags & Room Dehumidifier

Jungle equals hot and humid for at least 6 months out of the year! Ventilate your home as much as possible unless you want  fur to grow on your clothes, shoes and other household items. Using these moisture absorbing bags inside closets and other closed spaces helps to absorb excess humidity and to protect your items from musty odors and mold. 

7 Helpful Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico


These room dehumidifiers work really well too.

6. Polarity Tester for Electrical Outlets

Make sure your outlets are grounded and wired correctly with a polarity tester or hire a qualified electrician to do so.

 7 Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico

Just Say No To Electrical Fires!

7. Carbon Monoxide Detectors

If you’ve been following us for any time, you know why we recommend carbon monoxide detectors for both home and travel safety. We recommend placing one in every bedroom and next to any gas-fueled appliances such as a stove, clothes dryer, hot water heater, fireplace and freestanding gas heater.

 7 Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico

Carbon Monoxide Detectors Save Lives

These are our Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico.

Do you have any that you could add? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below. 


~Katie O’Grady

Reader Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico:

Arturo: For the summer months it is highly recommended to put your clothes in airtight bags or vacuum sealed bags so that mold doesn’t grow in them especially if you skip town. I highly recommend doing this process with your shoes because if you don’t, the soles will disintegrate completely from the salty air and humidity.

Margaret: Keep all your food in the refrigerator, even if you wouldn’t normally, especially fruit. Clean up your kitchen messes as soon as possible to deter unwanted scavengers and never ever ever let your kids eat in the bed unless you want… ANTS ANTS EVERYWHERE! (And they bite). Even with screens and drain covers, if you leave food out they will find you.


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*This article contains affiliate links for products we use. The price is the same whether you use our affiliate link or not. If we haven’t spent our own money on it and loved it, you won’t see an affiliate link for it here. 


My Immigration to Mexico~ A Tale of Irony, Coincidence & Destiny

As the granddaughter of a former Chief of the US-Mexico Border, it is no small irony nor coincidence that I, along with my retired firefighter hubby and our eight-year-old twins, would immigrate to Mexico to create our lives anew.

We were ready to get out of the rat race and redefine our reality. 

Departing from San Diego with nothing but a car and trailer full of stuff that we deemed to be the “essentials” after selling, gifting and tossing the rest, we headed South!

Immigrate to Mexico

Shortly after our arrival to San Pancho, Nayarit, we received our Permanent Residents cards (having begun the process stateside at our local Mexican Consulate) with the assistance of a highly reputable, local legal liaison. 

Immigrate to Mexico

A Historical Love

From a very early age, perhaps even encoded in my genetics, I have had a deep love and respect for Mexico–her people, her magic, her allure, her fervent sense of community and reverence for history and tradition. I often joke that in a former life, I was a salsa dancing latina

My proximity to the San Diego-Tijuana Border granted me access to a bilingual/bicultural upbringing that allowed me to move easily between both worlds. Speaking in both Spanish and English at school, work and play has always been my norm.

And without a doubt, my relationship with my Grandfather, my Dad’s Dad, was one of the most significant influences in my  connection to Mexico. 

Always dressed impeccably in his signature crisp-collared Oxford shirt, ironed slacks and shined shoes–no matter the occasion–my”Big Joe” (as we affectionately referred to him) was a humble, bright, witty gentleman with no time nor concern for nonsense. He was as tough as nails and lived his life to the fullest until the age of 94.

He adored me, and I him.

Immigrate to Mexico

A Living History Book

Sitting in his living room overlooking Mission Bay, he would speak to me of his many adventures, of his life on our family’s dairy farm in Chula Vista, of the beautiful horses in his care, and how at the age of 14 he left his home to become a cowboy on the last rancho that spanned the US-American border. 

Family historians state that he was the “Paul Revere of Chula Vista” by warning the Otay Valley on horseback of impending rain that ultimately ended up bursting the Sweetwater Dam.

I would listen in awe, taking mental notes of these precious conversations, knowing that I was bearing witness to a living history book. 

We would drive down to Rosarito Beach on weekends for an early dinner at El Nido and I would marvel with pride and joy at my Grandfather’s ability to conduct himself so eloquently in both languages and cultures. Sitting in front of the open, wood-fired oven where our quail and lobster tails would cook, my Grandpa turned the ordinary into magic.

His affinity for conversation, charisma, thoughtful ways and sharp sense of humor made for a dynamic mixture that simply attracted people to him. It felt good to be in his company and I just happened to be lucky enough to be his granddaughter. 

Although my Grandfather passed before I began my teaching career, I know that he would have been so very proud that I had chosen to go into a line of work that shares the beauty of the Spanish language and culture with the youth of today. 

Family Shenanigans

My Grandmothers Mary & Elizabeth had their own fair share of  South of The Border Shenanigans and their stories were nothing short of hilariously entertaining–like something out of an I Love Lucy Show! This 1982 picture is of the two of them (in the middle) on a day’s outing in Tijuana…I can imagine the laughter!  

Immigrate to Mexico

A Mexico Influx

It comes to me as no great surprise that we find ourselves in a time when more and more people want to immigrate to Mexico, looking not just for an escape from “politics” that defy reason and common decency, but for a reinvented, reinspired life where adventure is affordable and time and freedom are your most precious commodities. 

Life in Mexico WAKES you up from whatever slumber you might have previously found yourself in, RESETS your outlook and REMINDS you that true, mindful, engaged living results from paying attention and participating in a life of design.

I thank my beloved Grandfather for setting the bar high, for leading by example and showing me a love and respect for Mexico that is forever imprinted in my heart and has forever changed the trajectory of my life.

Grandfather holding Granddaughter in Chair

Mi Querido México, thank you for taking my family in, for welcoming us with open arms. These past seven years have been one heck of an adventure and we are better people for it. 

!Viva México!





*Protect yourself and your loved ones with an Expat/Travel Insurance Policy & Carbon Monoxide Detectors *


*If you would like to learn more about how to immigrate to Mexico: Relocation Consulting



Shoulder Pain

While I am not particularly thrilled that I find myself with a torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder–something about 50 years of miles on my body, I guess–I am eternally grateful for the Mexican Medical System that has once again proven itself easy-to-access and affordable.

After both a spinal and abdominal surgery here in Mexico, amongst a host of other medical situations one experiences when  raising a family, I feel somewhat seasoned as it pertains to “the system” on this side of the border.

On Friday of last week, I called to make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist here in Puerto Vallarta after months of a nagging shoulder pain that has evolved into something that keeps me up at night with increasing pain and limited mobility. I phoned the office directly–no having to go through a primary, no frustrating pre-authorization phone tree web or an on-average 6 week appointment wait.

I got in to see Dr. Ricardo Vázquez at Imagenología y Centro de Diagnóstico across from Plaza Caracol, just 2 days after having placed the call.

After about a 5 minute wait, I was greeted and walked back to the consultation room by the doctor himself. After a thorough evaluation, Dr. Ricardo wrote me an order to radiology for two x-rays, which conveniently was located just downstairs in the same building. Here my wait time was also around 5 minutes, if that.


800 pesos later (about $41.00 USD) and with x-rays in hand, back up to Dr. Ricardo’s office I went where he was waiting for me without having crammed several patients in during the time I was gone. Thank you.

After a thorough explanation of my x-rays, more clinical assessments, a 3-ingredient infiltration injection into the back of my shoulder (fun, fun!), a booklet of at-home exercises and a prescription for anti-inflammatories, I was on my way with instructions to return in a month for a possible MRI based on how I progress. I will progress!

The doctor and his assistant spent nearly two hours with me, never once looking at their watch or rushing me out the door. Thank you.

The total cost of this appointment was 2,300 pesos (about $120.00 USD). While that is not the “usual” 600 to 800 peso consult fee that we have experienced for other situations (dental cleanings, ENT consult, pulmonology, etc.) nor was it a routine appointment.

I am so grateful that we don’t have to jump through hoops, spend hours on the phone, wait for weeks or months on end to access top-notch medical care here in Mexico.

Yes, this is private care and we are grateful that we have made choices to have access to it.

So How Do We Pay?

Now onto the million dollar question…how do we finance our medical care in Mexico? IMSS? Seguro Popular? Expat Insurance? Cash?

As part of my husband’s firefighter retirement benefits, we have an HRA whereby we can submit for reimbursement for substantiated medical appointments/procedures/medications up to a specific amount in the fiscal year. We simply need the physician’s prescription, diagnosis and lab reports translated into English and the Peso to Dollar exchange rate for that date. We do need to front the money and it usually takes about a week to get reimbursed. Not all of our expenses are covered because there is a cap, but many are.

Since our HRA is not a “typical” Insurance Plan, when we travel to the States, we use Bethany Neuman of Expat Health Insurance for our north of the border coverage.

Bethany is also who we refer all of our friends, family, followers and clients to for Long-Term Expat Health Insurance in Mexico & Short-Term Travel Policies to and from Mexico and the States.

Click here if you would like a free quote.


This morning, after that gorgeous horse-sized injection I received yesterday at Dr. Ricardo’s office, my pain level is significantly diminished and I am oh-so grateful! Here’s to NO SURGERY! That is the only energy I will entertain with this current challenge.

Thank you all for your care and concern. It is warmly received and truly appreciated.

Off to do my 40 minutes of in-home physical therapy!



P.S. For those of you that live full or part time South of the Border (or travel back and forth frequently), how do you manage the financial side of your Medical Care? Please feel free to share in the Comments Section below…



*For information on my Relocation Consulting, please email me at [email protected]

*Please protect yourselves and your loved ones with carbon monoxide detectors for both home and travel safety.

Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

 “To call him a dog hardly seems to do him justice, though inasmuch as he had four legs, a tail, and barked, I admit he was, to all outward appearances. But to those who knew him well, he was a perfect gentleman.” ~Hermione Gingold


Similar to a few of my other difficult-to-write pieces–Until Death Do We Part , I Had Spinal Surgery in Mexico and Retired Firefighter Poisoned by Carbon Monoxide, this one will be hard, if not heartbreaking, for me to put into print.

But I must.

I owe it to Seamus, to our family and to our children to honor his memory and legacy, to memorialize this sentient being that was so much more than “just a dog”…to tell his story.

The feelings of profound sadness and loss don’t go away on their own. Expressing them with the written word is one of the ways in which I choose to process through them…to journey through the waves of deep mourning to arrive to where only memories of laughter, adventure, kisses and warm, furry snuggles remain. 

This is my tribute to you, Seamies…

Famous Seamus

Our three-year-old twins Mairead and Liam were just starting to sleep through the night when my husband Frank surprised me with the grandest 38th birthday gift of all–a puppy! Working as a firefighter and away from home for days and sometimes weeks on end, he wanted to bring a gentle dog with a big bark into our family.

Two kids playing with puppy

A New Friend

Living in San Diego at the time, we traveled up to Bonsall for the four required visits, until at last, at 9-weeks old, we were able to bring Seamus home to begin his life as an O’Grady!

Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Signing The Paperwork to Bring Seamus Home!

We Chose Each Other

Seamus was from a litter of nine chocolate, roly poly, running, jumping, kissing, wagging balls of labrador love. 

Female blonde Mom playing with puppies

Pure Love, Pure Joy

Although our twins were a bit overwhelmed and cautious at first with this energetic, playful, new presence in their lives (that was almost their same size!) the three of them became the best of buddies in no time at all.


Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Wrestle Time, Lucha Libre Style!


Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

The Best Naps are The Ones Inside Your Pup’s Crate!

Honoring our Irish heritage and love of traditional Celtic names, ‘Seamus‘ was ever-so-fitting for this handsome, destined-to-be addition to our family. My Mother’s dinner time calls would now be “Mairead…Liam…Seamus”…

Famous Seamus: A Tale of A Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Pure Magic

They say you can approximate the adult size of a puppy by its paws. At 9 weeks old Seamus’s were huge and by 6 months he was practically full grown, knocking over everything in his path with that big tail and chewing through all of our shoes one by one.

Shoe Tug-of-War in Baja California

Seamus Immigrates to Mexico

Seamus moved to Mexico with us when he was five years old, making the four-day drive South in the back seat of our SUV, drooling the entire car ride down on the back of Frank’s neck.

Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

From San Diego to Puerto Vallarta!

From San Diego to San Pancho to San Miguel de Allende, to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle–with many Stateside and Baja trips in between–Seamus lived an amazingly full and adventurous life! He was a well-traveled dog with no shortage of fun and shenanigans with his human family.

Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Seamus Boating with His Best Buddies in the Sea of Cortez


Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Seamus Watching His Kid’s Dance Class in San Pancho, Nayarit


Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Seamus Taking a Stroll in The Hills of San Miguel de Allende. Guanajuato

A Gentle Giant

If you were ever lucky enough to be in the presence of this Gentle Giant, you would have known what a special, wise, kind soul he was…a noble gentleman, a comedian, a loyal playmate, a never-do-harm puppy with a heart of gold. 

Famous Seamus: A Tale of A Dog's Immigration to MexicoV

Seamus Loved to Eat Watermelon & Pumpkin!

Seamus’s favorite place in the world was the ocean. That, and being with his family…especially in the ocean.

Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

A Water Dog Through and Through, Baja California


Famous Seamus: A Tale of A Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Seamus in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit

Seamus Gets A Sister

Seamus wasn’t what one would call a lap dog (we never told him that), weighing in at 95 pounds of slobbery love! We not only wanted him to have a companion, but also for our children to experience the gift of adoption and the taking in of another sentient being.

Seamus had been an “only dog” for the first seven years of his life and while he was initially excited to have what he thought was an occasional playdate in Luna, he went through a period of acting slightly concerned with this new addition to our family, bringing me more treats and toys than normal.

Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Good Boy

In short order, Seamus realized that Luna had a permanent status in The O’Grady Tribe and that he now needed to share the attention, walks and pats on the head.

Famous Seamus: A Tale of A Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Famous Seamus & Luna Love Walk Through Parque Benito Juárez, San Miguel de Allende

He handled it like a gentleman and graciously welcomed Luna into his family with lots of slobbery kisses, love barks and tail chasing around our yard!

Immigrate to Mexico with Dog

Famous Seamus & Luna Love Play Time!

What Happened?

Our sweet boy had suffered from skin ailments most his life–made worse in the jungle heat–and in the past year had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism for which he was receiving treatment. In spite of those challenges, he was a very happy, active boy…a sweet, lovable chocolate lab. While he was in his senior years at almost 12, he did not have any joint or musculature issues. In fact, on one of our recent stateside trips, Seamus had a thorough check-up including a head to toe x-ray whereupon the vet stated that he had the skeletaure of a 5-year-old dog!

Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

My Sweet Boy The Sunday before Valentine’s Day

On the Sunday morning before Valentine’s Day, instead of being greeted by my normally goofy and happy pup, I found him sitting sideways at the top of our back laundry door, clearly in discomfort and not interested in eating at all.

He looked up at me with sadness in his eyes, turned away and laid his head back down. My heart skipped a beat knowing that something was seriously wrong.

I went outside to get a better look and saw that his left back leg was swollen and curled up and that he was unable to stand or walk unassisted.

What had happened???

Was he stung by a scorpion? Did he somehow fall, twist or break his leg? Was he bitten by a snake?

My mind went through all of the possibilities of what could have happened to our boy, who just one day before seemed fine on his afternoon walk. While he was slowing down, he was still mobile and always up for some playtime at the beach.

Immigrate to Mexico with Dog

Seamus Happy at The Beach

Seeing my big, sweet boy in obvious distress and pain, trying to navigate those 95 pounds on three legs, was heartbreaking and so concerning, to say the least.

We took Seamus to the vet, fearing that our day had arrived or was soon in sight, but Dr. Jorge said to give it a few days with anti-inflammatory injections and oral meds at home. And so we did, willing to do anything to give him some more time with us–as long as it was free from pain and suffering.

Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Unconditional Love

Dr. Jorge ruled out any venomous poisoning or bone break, conjecturing that Seamus might have tripped and fallen and therefore perhaps sprained his leg, but to me, it seemed to be much more serious.

A Mother’s Intuition

I knew in my heart that we likely weren’t going to come out of this one on the other side with dry eyes or intact hearts, even for as much as I wanted to deny the reality right in front of us.

Over the next several days, Seamus continued to suffer and decline. His breathing became labored, he lost interest in eating, could not relieve himself without being lifted up and moved to the grass, and then he began to hemorrhage and bleed externally.

We knew it was time. Time to do only what love propels you to do. Time to do the right thing. Time to do the humane thing. Time to release Seamus from the physical condition that now held his body captive in pain with no apparent hope of improvement.

Famous Seamus: A Tale of A Dog's Immigration to Mexico

How Do You Tell Your Daughter It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Her Best Friend?

In a “perfect world” or a “best case scenario”, maybe Seamus would have passed in his sleep. But life and death are not so neat and tidy and they certainly have their own timeline.

I believe that Seamus wanted us to each have our individual and then our together time as a family to say our goodbyes, and we did.

Thank you, Seamus, for the gift of you…thank you for picking Valentine’s Day–a day of love and friendship–as your day to transition from one energy form to another. Thank you for the undeniable impact you have left on each of our hearts.

Rainbow Bridge, Valentine’s Day

I laid with Seamus throughout the day, in those last hours with my sweet boy in this realm.

I brought him warm, lavender infused towels from the dryer and sang, talked, laughed and cried with him–telling him all of the funny stories about his life as a 9-week-old puppy up to now, this very moment as my senior pup, hours before his rainbow crossing. I named all of the people and animals that loved him, each and every one by their first name. He looked at me with acknowledgment and understanding, hugged me, wrapped his paws around my arms, smiled, snorted and slobbered with all the energy he could muster up. Noble and gallant to the very end.

Immigrate to Mexico with Dog

Time Together…

I asked Frank to bring home the largest bone he could find, but Seamus was not interested in it at all.

Immigrate to Mexico with Dog

My Boy Letting Me Know It Was Time

We picked our children up after school, came home to get Seamus, and the five of us drove to the vet’s office for our 4:00 appointment.

To say that the next few hours were excruciatingly painful and very emotional for our family would be an understatement.

Famous Seamus: A Tale of A Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Stand by Me

From my husband Frank’s Facebook Post:

Our dog Seamus had to leave us this afternoon.
If there were ever a dog to represent unconditional love he was it.
He taught me many lessons regarding being happy in a moment. I do and will miss him mightily. 
I hear the ocean outside my window, and I feel his physical absence palpably…but, I know he is free from that pain he tolerated with no complaint and he is happy and at peace.
He grew up with my babies, he was one of our babies, he was part of our O’Grady Tribe. I am so grateful to be part of a family that stayed with him until the end, grateful to Dr. Jorge at Pets and Vets in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle for his sincere compassion and care and his tenderness not only with Seamus but with us.
My hope is that we can all carry forward a bit some love, tolerance and compassion in this oftentimes hard world we live in. I have to say that I marvel at the strength of our children.
They were with Seamus until the end…laying with him on the floor of the vet’s office, giving him their hearts and love with hugs, petting and no shortage of tears until well after his heart stopped beating.
Seamus died literally surrounded with love and touches…and touches and love were what he lived for.
My family, Seamus included, give me reason to marvel every day.
It is beautiful outside and I will reflect on Seamus’ life, my children, Liam and Mairead, my amazing wife Katie and us as the family we are often throughout this day.
Peace and love to all of you.”

We had Seamus cremated and released his ashes into the ocean blue, his favorite playground.

Immigrate to Mexico with Dog

Farewell Our Sweet Boy

On this particular day, in this particular spot, there were whales and dolphins gathered together, splashing and playing around. Seamus would be in good company here.

Famous Seamus: A Tale of a Dog's Immigration to Mexico

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Seamus, you will always be our Gentle Giant, our Guardian Angel.

Immigrate to Mexico with Dog

My Daughter Mairead Honoring & Returning Her Pup to His Favorite Playground

The Cycle of Life

The life and and death of our Famous Seamus is a powerful reminder of the transient nature of life, that all things have their time and place…their beginning and their end. Life is a precious and fragile gift.

That same puppy face that we saw the first day we met Seamus in 2007 was the very same puppy face we kissed goodbye as Seamus took his last breath on Valentine’s Day, 2019.

Immigrate to Mexico with Dog

“Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears,
but laugh and talk to me as if I were
beside you.
I loved you so…
‘Twas heaven here with you.”

~Isla Paschal Richardson

Love hurts. Love extracts her price. But she also gives, tenfold. Love stretches our hearts in ways unimaginable, changes the mosaic of who we are for the better, if we consciously allow it to.

Lucky are we to experience it in its fullest, most unconditional form. 

RIP my King. We love you forever and a day…

*I have been receiving an amazing amount of feedback to this article, including the sharing with me of this story that got the waterworks going all over again: The Dog Who Means Nothing to Me



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