Leanna Staines moved to Merida from the US in 2010 with her husband and two dogs. She loved the city but was finding it hard to get to know anyone as she was still learning Spanish and was not familiar with the city. Luckily, she had Fitz, her bold and friendly terrier with her. Terriers are known for being fearless, and Fitz lived up to that reputation. So, Leanna did what any sensible human would do and followed his lead. After more than a decade of adventures, she is so glad she did.
Now, Leanna is paying it forward. She has blended her love of dogs, art, and the Yucatan Peninsula to publish a splendid book with a little help from Fitz and some of her human friends. As a dog, I can say I enjoyed the photos very much. As a former stray dog, I am even more excited because one hundred percent of the sales from the book will support spaying and neutering programmes in Yucatan. Once I heard that, I realised I really needed to find out a little more about this human and her furry friend Fitz.
Leanna rescued Fitz thirteen years ago. She is not sure how old he is, but she reckons he is at least fifteen. He is a funny and handsome little character, with very fuzzy features and an underbite to melt hearts. Most of all he is curious. He loves to explore and meet new people. When Leanna moved to Merida, she started taking him on walks. In his desire to check out every nook and cranny and, most of all, to find shady spots to rest, Fitz showed her Yucatan through his eyes.
Leanna took all the photos on her iPhone. She makes no claim to being a professional photographer, but she absolutely has an eye for the right moment and the right setting and Fitz appears to require no direction. His strong personality and chilled demeanor shine through so clearly in all these images, which highlight the historic and colourful sights to be discovered throughout the region.
Fitz certainly has a nose for interesting people and places, and everyone seems to be drawn to his charisma and charm. Whether he is sidling up to musicians in the middle of their set, hanging out with cute kids, perching comfortably on the remnants of old buildings, or experimenting with different types of transport, Fitz knows just how to add something special to every shot.
Leanna was posting her photos on Facebook when friends started urging her to turn them into a book. She thought it was a great idea but was not able to muster up the confidence to do it. Then Covid 19 struck, and animal welfare organisations started to struggle financially. For someone like Leanna, who had spent much of her time in Merida as a volunteer, helping to organise spay and neuter clinics, it was a major worry. Like all humans during this difficult time, it was hard for her to see how to move forward.
Thank goodness for great friends. Sean Hennessy, while in the middle of trying to keep his marvellous pub Hennessy’s running and all his staff employed through the pandemic, called Leanna, and told her that he wanted to help. He asked her to send over her two hundred best images and he started the gruelling process of choosing the most outstanding ones. Leanna explained, “He instinctively knew I could use a project to get up to during the lockdown and how concerned I was over clinics being cancelled. He said, ‘Let’s make this happen. You’ll feel better doing something about it.’ And I did.”
Sean along with another of Leanna’s friends, Hannah Hudson, worked tirelessly to help select the photos that told the most profound stories, enhance them, and get them into a publishable format. Leanna must be a very special human because the support kept pouring in. Gina Osorno, best known as one of the most outrageously fantastic singers in Merida, offered her assistance. She just happens to also be an exceptionally talented designer. She laid out the book and gave it that professional polish that makes it so very covetable. Her magic touch ensures that once you pick up a copy, you just know you must have it. It is that gorgeous.
I mentioned in the beginning of this article that every penny raised through the sale of this book is going to help the dogs and cats of the Yucatan Peninsula and I thought I should tell you a bit more about that. This book will be supporting the work of two quite incredible animal welfare groups in Yucatan. The first is No Mas Perritos, an organisation that traps, sterilises, and releases stray dogs on the beach. They have spayed and neutered over four thousand animals in Yucatan. The second is Albergue Franciscano del Animal Desprotegido A.C (AFAD), an animal welfare organisation who, in partnership with Planned Pethood Mexico, has been responsible for over twenty thousand spay and neuter surgeries in Yucatan.
So, humans, I am telling you now – ‘Buy this book!’ Not only is it super cool, fun, pretty, funky, and full of Fitz, but while you enjoy flicking through the pages, you will have all kinds of good feelings knowing that you helped to save lives. My Days – Inspiration from a Curious Dog is, of course, something you should have in your home if you want it to be complete, but you can also become someone’s favourite BFF by buying them a copy too. Think how much joy you can bring.
My Days – Inspiration from a Curious Dog has not finished printing in Merida quite yet. It will be available in a few weeks. Look out for my news about the launch and how to get a pawtagraphed copy from Fitz! It will be available for sale in Merida at Between the Lines or Hennessy’s Irish Pub.
My Days – Inspiration from a Curious Dog will also be available through Amazon US from the 15th of June.
Note: All photos used in this article can be found in My Days – Inspiration from a Curious Dog and are used with the kind permission of the author, Leanna Staines. These are copyrighted images. Please do not use without her permission.