some Cortez dog stories and other things to know

Who We Are

Cortez Rescue & Outreach is a non-profit public benefit organization dedicated to the health and well being of stray and abandoned dogs. Based in Baja, Mexico – our Cortez Rescue & Outreach Center is situated at the back of Dr Gretel’s Veterinary clinic in the town of Las Cuevas. We serve the geographical region of Las Cuevas to Cabo Pulmo/La Ribera and to Los Barriles and San Bartolo. We are a non-profit organization registered both in Mexico and the US which means that you can make tax efficient donations while doing a great thing for our community!

What we are trying to achieve. Our vision is to eradicate cruelty and mistreatment of animals in the East Cape region through education and community support. We promote responsible pet ownership through collaboration with existing spay and neuter networks, and through our own efforts to provide spay/neuter services to those who need it. We develop educational programs to promote and inform the community about the treatment and re-homing of our canine friends. These efforts cannot be done alone, and we are proud to work alongside the existing spay and neuter networks SNAP and Amigos de Animales.

What we do. There are many facets to the tireless, labor of love that takes place everyday at Cortez Rescue. Our dedicated staff and volunteers rescue and re-home abandoned, sick and cruelly treated animals at an alarming frequency. The daily tasks required to make this happen are substantial involving feeding, training, hands-on care and therapy, medical procedures and subsequent after-care, socializing, coordinating, educating and beyond. It is true that no matter what unfortunate circumstances a dog in our care has experienced, they will receive the care, love and support that they need to live a full and comfortable life. Cortez Rescue has created a unique and effective program to bring about the much needed change in animal treatment and ownership within our community.

What we have achieved so far. Cortez Rescue & Outreach has rescued and re-homed over a thousand dogs since we began operation in 2018. Spreading the word – our spay and neuter folios support the important spay and neuter message which is heavily circulated and adopted by a large part of the population in Los Barriles. Feeding the region – thanks to the kindness of our community, we continue to distribute free bags of dog food to the most needy in our community – specifically those households without income through the tough summer months when the tourist dollar disappears.

CR Mail

Cortez Rescue gets a letter from a recently Adopted Pup...

Hello Cortez Rescue Team,

It is Nueces! I Miss you!

I am writing to thank all of you for taking such good care of me for so many months after you found me in Spa Buena Vista.  I miss you all, especially my foster parents and my foster canine siblings.

I now live in Salt Lake City Utah with my new parents, Brian and Liz.  I can tell they love me very much and they spoil me quite a bit.  Today one of their friends came over and thought I was their first Baja Dog – Sonrisa. I guess we look alike.  Mom and Dad have called me Sonrisa a couple of times by mistake.  I don’t mind because she sounds like a special pup too.  She came from Mira Flores and they adopted her in 2007 while dry camping at North Beach.  Maybe we are related?

When I met my parents, this year, they were camping at Playa Norte.  For about a week, I had lots of fun there, meeting new doggie and human friends, although I missed my foster parents and canine siblings (still do).

Then one day we got up really early and the house began to move ….and it did not stop! I was really scared so I curled up at Liz or Brians feet.  I guess the house is really a van. They put my special blanket from Shannon on top of another blanket and let me stay in the passenger side footwell the whole time.

I was very glad when we came finally came to a stop.  Now I refuse to get back into the van …I don’t want to do that again.  Well, maybe someday.  My parents tell me I need to get back into the van if I want to come back to Los Barriles to visit all of you all next year. And I want to do that … maybe a year is long enough to recover!

When we arrived here in SLC, it was REALLY cold.  My parents put this blue thing on my body that had pink polka dots.  They said it was to keep me warm, but I did not like it one bit! And I tried to take it off but Velcro is really strong.  They do not make we wear it anymore and I am VERY grateful.

One morning there was this white stuff all over the ground.  I guess it is called snow.  The first time I felt it, I pranced around because my feet were really cold but now I am used to it.  I LOVE running through the snow, jumping up in snowbanks and leaping back down.  It is especially fun when my dad throws a ball and I get to go find it and bring it back to him.  Sometimes I get distracted and forget where the ball is, but he always helps me find it again.

You all probably know about couches and beds?  I CANNOT believe you did not tell me how comfortable they are…My mom and dad put my dog bed on the couch and let me sleep there.  At night I get to sleep on a couch in their room. When a loud annoying noise wakes us up in the morning, I am allowed to jump up onto their bed and we all snuggle.  It is really really fun.  Please don’t judge them, they said that I am their first doggy who likes to cuddle!

After we cuddle, we drink coffee …and then I watch them do some yoga.  Sometimes they look like me when I stretch – I think they call it downward dog.

Don’t tell Shannon but I am allowed in the kitchen. Shannon would be proud of me, thought, I refused to go in for at least 5 days.  Then I realized, after my parents carried me over the kitchen floor enough times, that I must go through the kitchen to get to my parent’s bedroom and to the door with a hole and a plastic flap.  They seem to want me to go through this hole - they call it a doggy door.   But I don’t like it!  It scares me so much I am willing to forgo the treat on the other side. Who wants to go outside alone anyway!  I do miss my canine friends.  But don’t worry, I have lots of new friends here.

My parents renamed me.  My new name, Tula, it apparently means Leaping Water, Mountain Peak and Tranquil in all sorts of different languages.  I love water and I like to leap. I jumped over two of my new doggie friends yesterday. My mom and her friend were very surprised.  To be honest, I was too!  I have not been to the mountains yet, but I think I will like them.

My parents got me a new collar. It has Waves and Mountains on it, a sun, people fishing and surfing.  And I have a new name tag that has a big sun, either setting or rising, over the water to remind us all of Los Barriles, my first home, and all of you!

Thank you again!  

See you all next year!


Tula (Nueces)

Jose's Tale...

If Cortez Dogs Could Actually Tell Us Their Stories, They Might Sound Something Like This...The Journey From The Street, To Rescue, To Foster, To Forever Home...
(Submitted By A Volunteer)

Sick. Sick and hurting. Things crawling on me. They bite and itch. Hungry, thirsty, tired. Big loud machines flying by. One hit my brother last night. There’s something wrong with his back. He can’t walk. Here comes another. It’s stopping. A human gets out. Walks up to my pack. She speaks softly, touches us. No one’s ever done that before. She picks us up and puts us in her machine. I fall asleep. When I wake we’re in a clean, warm place. There are people around. They give us food, water, wash us. They stick sharp things in me but they talk nice and it doesn’t hurt much. They’re working on my brother. Before long I feel better. I want to run, play, get love from the nice humans. They put me in a big yard with my pack and lots of other dogs. A long time goes by. Every day there are nice people who love us, give us food and water and play with us. We are so happy and my brother can walk again. We all sleep outside in a big cage. We all have names. One day they took me in a machine and I thought they were going to put me by the road again. Instead we went to a house with new humans. They were nice but I was afraid of what was in that house. After a while I felt brave and went in. It was very nice. The new humans taught me how to live in a house. To be respectful and go outside. They held and stroked me, gave me good food and played with me. After a couple of weeks they put me in the machine and took me back to the big yard with my pack and the other dogs. It was good to see my old friends but I missed the house with the nice humans. Another long time goes by. One day they came and put me in a small cage. They gave me a treat and I got sleepy. When I woke up I was in a very loud big machine. Fell back asleep. Someone took my cage off the machine and gave it to some more new humans. They put me in their machine and we went to another house. It is cold here but pretty and green. The new humans love me and I love them. There are two kids and another dog and we play all the time. Every day there are new adventures. Now I am older. An honored and respected member of the household. I feel content. I will never leave. I am home. The moral of this tale? Please generously support Cortez Rescue and Outreach by clicking here


Jose when he arrived at Cortez Rescue & Outreach in January 2021


Jose August 2021

Lives Transformed
Meet Some Cortez Stars



Greta Arrives At Cortez

Greta was rescued from a negligent home in Los Barriles. Her owner knew she was very sick and had tied her up in the back yard with no food or water just waiting for her to die. It took Cortez numerous talks with the owner to let us take the dog. The owner finally said yes and Cortez volunteers went and picked Greta up. She as so tiny, skinny and sickly. The owner told us she was about 4 months old but she looked more like 8 weeks old. We immediately got her to the vet and found out she had a terrible mite infestation. Greta started receiving medication right away and we tried to feed her as much as she could eat. After Cortez Rescue got Greta stabilized she went into foster to rehabilitate.


Greta Goes To Foster & Gets Adopted

Greta went her to her awesome Foster parents, Janice & Willy, who would be her shining light and get through her recovery. While she was in their care, her next shining light steps into Gretel's life, her adoptive family, The Henderson's. Gretel arrived at her forever home in February, she was scared of pretty much everything. She just wanted to be in bed with her blanket, which came from her amazing foster family.


Greta Settles Into Her New Home

Fast forward four months later and she is happy and silly and playful and all the best things a dog can be. "She loves her whole family, but has become Mama’s girl and she loves when we go for walks or short rides in the car. Long rides in the car and strangers still make her quite nervous, but we have a trainer who has helped us learn how to boost her confidence and make her more comfortable. I Will Never Be Able To Express How Grateful We Are For Our Greta Girl. Thank you for our Greta Girl, we love her dearly"! The Henderson Family



Barely Alive, Hanna Begins To Receive Care At Cortez Rescue

Hanna came to Cortez on October 3, 2020. She has been horribly attacked by large dogs. Her owner took her to the Vet and he stitched her back together. But after a few days the owner decided she could not care for Hanna and surrendered her to Cortez. Cortez Rescue took her into care, she was too injured and sickly to go to the rescue so she went to a Cortez volunteer's home. She was scared to death, was barely eating and smelled of rotting flesh. Cortez took her back to the Vet three days later and were told, "Her skin is dying. I need to remove as much skin as possible. Her owner did not take enough care." After seeing the photos after the skin was removed the foster volunteer didn't feel like she could handle taking care of such a large wound so Hanna went under the direct care of Dr. Gretel and asked the vet clinic to keep her for awhile as she required a bath and fresh bandages twice a day.


Hanna Goes Into Foster To Heal And Regain Health

About 10 days later, October 16th, Hanna was able to return to the foster home Dr. Gretel showed how to care for Hanna. The foster Mom carefully followed Dr Gretel's routine. In the beginning it was very hard to look at her wound and stay confident that the wound was going to heal. But over time the wound began to shrink and Hanna became such a love bug. The Foster says..." It was my absolute pleasure to care for and help this little dog heal when in the beginning I didn't think I could do it at all. We fell head over heels for this little one and wanted to keep her for ourselves but that is not what fostering is about. Fostering is about giving them a safe place and helping prepare them for their forever home."


Healthy & Happy Hanna Goes To Her Forever Home

After over 2 months of care, on December 18th, Hanna was dropped off to her forever Mom and she flew home to Seattle. She has completely recovered and even grew her hair back. She is a badass of the back yard and loves to chase squirrels. They love her so much and send updates and pictures often which makes my heart so happy. That is what fostering is about! We'll say it again... FOSTERING SAVES LIVES



Meet Mickey

Mickey was rescued by Cortez in June 2019. He arrived with a big dog fight attitude along with a big heart. It became our job to convince him that the world is now a safe place and other dogs are not a threat to him. We could completely understand why he felt the way he did, he had been chained up for the past two years, basically at that point his entire life. He had a few marks that indicated he had likely been on the receiving end of some dog aggression. Mickey was ready to defend himself and make sure other dogs knew he was a tough dude.


Longterm Resident

The average time it takes a dog to move through Cortez Rescue, from being rescued to finding their forever home is approximately 5 months. Mickey was with us for over 2 years. During his time at Cortez we came to realize that Mickey's big heart was more dominate and truer to his nature than his interest in a fight. He was longing for a quieter and calmer setting than the shelter provides. We moved Mickey into a foster home and immediately saw a wonderful, loving, gentle, well mannered boy emerge. Most likely Mickey's entire life had been a stressor for him, from being chained and not being able to escape danger to the energy and chaos at the shelter - it became very clear he was stressed out.


Mickey Finds His Home

Before leaving Baja, Mickey went to foster, then to a small ranch, then eventually traveled north to Portland and unfortunately had an encounter with a cat and missed out on remaining in his first home. With the support and love of many of you, our Cortez community stepped up and donated money to help keep Mickey in Oregon while he searched for another adoptive home. Some things are worth waiting for; after over 2 years, Mickey finds his forever home in Eugene OR. We will miss our Mickey but of course are so happy he has found someone with as big a heart as his own to be with.

Some Of Our Techniques

At Cortez Rescue & Outreach we are dedicated to providing the best possible care for our pups. Our best practices are foundational in our operations to ensure the best medical care, emotional support and optimal social development of our dogs. Below is a key program we utilize along with areas of supreme interest and importance to our mission.


Playgroup was introduced at Cortez Rescue a few years ago and our dogs have benefited greatly from it ever since. Cortez Playgroup is modeled after the Dogs Playing For Life program. In addition to exercise and social interactions, playgroup provide opportunities for enrichment, assessment, training, and behavior modification. The benefits of daily playgroup include:


More Accurate Assessments

Playgroup helps Cortez Rescue determine social skills more accurately. Evaluating dogs for inclusion in playgroup and observing them interacting with one another provide us a better, faster understanding of the dogs in our care. We learn that a dog’s behavior on-leash or in their kennel is not an accurate indicator of a dog’s social skills. A dog that may be labeled aggressive because of kennel behavior but may exhibit healthy social skills in playgroup.

Increased Freedom & Reduced Stress

Playgroup support physical and mental health. During playgroup dogs burn off physical energy and, due to the intensive social interactions, they burn mental energy as well. This type of interaction feeds their senses and supports their overall health. Spending time off-leash and out of their kennels reduces stress and allows them to relax in and outside of the runs.


Maximize Volunteer Time

Playgroup makes the most of every moment. Playgroup can provide the fastest way to attend to the largest number of dogs in the shortest amount of time. Rather than walking singularly, a playgroup team can attend to many more dogs in the same time period. Empty kennels can be cleaned more efficiently and effectively. Once the dogs are returned to their kennels, they have had ample time to exercise and relieve themselves, which translates into fewer cleanups for the staff.

 Behavior Modification & Leash Skill Training Are Priorites for Cortez Rescue Dogs

Rescues are busy places with many time demands, but the staff and volunteers at Cortez Rescue prioritize our dogs’ life enrichment activities of training our dogs leash skills and optimal behavior management. We believe that while the dogs are in our care it is our responsibility to support them in learning skills that will support them in finding a great home and then have the skills to lead a successful and emotionally happy and secure life.   We work diligently implementing, training, and utilizing professional and proven dog handling, skill development and behavior modification techniques.  Cortez Rescue has been fortunate to have had two professional dog behaviorists work with our dogs and train volunteer staff.  Prior to this training, most Cortez volunteers were simply dog lovers and enthusiasts with big hearts doing the best they could to improve the well being and lives of the dogs in our care.  Of course all of this is still true but Cortez volunteers also have learned the skills and techniques to elevate Cortez Rescue dogs to an even greater level of wellness and success through behavior modification and leash skill development.   

Dog training basically starts with people training.  Cortez Rescue volunteers go through hours of dog handling, canine behavior awareness, and leash skill development training.  Consistency is of utmost importance when teaching new behaviors to the dogs and all Cortez volunteers consistently utilize the same proven training techniques.  The program pays off, we see outstanding results with reversing undesirable dog behavior and the development of leash and command discipline in a very short time.  

All volunteers hold Cortez Rescue dogs to the same high standards and expectations.  Cortez dogs receive socialization opportunities, are trained not to jump on people, respect thresholds (to not bolt across a threshold like an open door or gate) as well as sit and heal on leash along with other important behaviors that make them even more adoptable.  We are so proud of our dogs and their commitment and development into the very best version of themselves.  Baja dogs are some of the best dogs in the world and we think Cortez Dogs are the best Baja dogs.  

If you’d like to learn more about the skills your Cortez Rescue dog knows and the techniques utilized in their training, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss our techniques.  

The Importance Of Spay & Neutering

Cortez Rescue always offer free spay and neutering services at your local Los Barriles veterinarian of choice. Simply contact us and let us know if you’d like to participate in this service.

Dogs that have not been spayed or neutered quickly and exponentially add to the homeless and neglected dog problem. The image to the right shows just how dramatically non sterilized animals can exacerbate the problem. Please Please spay & neuter. Here in East Cape we regularly have cost free, if needed, spay and neuter clinics. Send us a message and let us know if you’d like to have your dog or cat particiapte in the next clinic or if you’d like to volunteer to help us control the unwanted pet population.




Animals that live in groups, like dogs, establish relationships, through which the individuals involved interact and live together. The roles that the individuals play within the relationship can change with each new day or situation. These relationships also take time to build, so proper introductions are important to help the dogs adjust to one another and start to build on their relationship.

If you have more than one resident dog in your household, it may be best to introduce the resident dogs to the new dog one at a time. Two or more resident dogs may have a tendency to “gang up”; on the newcomer.

Introduce the dogs in a neutral location so that your resident dog is less likely to view the newcomer as an intruder. Each dog should be handled by a separate person. With both dogs on a leash, take them to an area with which neither is familiar, such as a park, where you can go for a walk together.

If adopting a new dog from a shelter, we recommend bringing your resident dog with you to the shelter and introducing the dogs before adopting. Take the dogs for a walk starting out approximately 10-15 feet apart, slowly allow the dogs to get closer together but do not allow them to meet while the handlers are holding the leashes. Give simple commands and offer food rewards often throughout the walk.

One body posture that indicates things are going well is a “play-bow.” One dog will crouch with her front legs on the ground and her hind end in the air. This is an invitation to play that usually elicits friendly behavior from the other dog.

Other appropriate investigative behaviors might include sniffing the air in the direction of the other dog, looking at or walking toward the other dog with a tail that is low and loose and wagging in a large arch.

Watch carefully for body postures that indicate an escalation in response, teeth-baring, deep growls, a stiff-legged gait, or a prolonged stare. If you see such postures, interrupt the interaction immediately by calmly and positively getting each dog interested in something else. For example, both handlers can walk backward while calling their dogs to them, have them sit or lie down, and reward each with a treat, then resume your walk.

Raised hackles, or hair standing up on the dog’s back, may indicate that the dog is concerned and needs more space from the other dog and time to acclimate. It is not necessarily a concern but is something to notice in conjunction with other body language.

It is best to walk with the dogs on a loose or soft leash so that there is no pressure of tension on the leash from the handler. Pressure or tension on the leash can lead to a change in the dog’s body language that can be misinterpreted by the other dog.

When the dogs seem to be tolerating each other without fearful or aggressive responses and the investigative greeting behaviors have tapered off, you can take them home to your backyard or to a friend’s neutral backyard. Bring both dogs into the yard and, when they are ignoring each other and perhaps sniffing around the yard, drop the leashes. Allow the dogs to investigate the yard and each other without interference from the handlers on the ends of the leashes.

Don’t force any interaction between the dogs. If the dogs ignore each other at first, or if one dog seems reluctant to interact with the other, that’s okay. It is appropriate for one dog to tell the other that they are moving too quickly or coming on too strong; this can be done with a growl, a bark, a lip curl, or even an air snap.

Consider allowing them to communicate with each other. It becomes inappropriate or problematic if it is a prolonged correction from the dog after the corrected dog moved away or if the corrected dog doesn’t back off. Give both dogs time to get comfortable. They’ll interact when they’re ready.Carefully watch the body language as described above. Hackles, or the raised hair along a dog’s back, are an involuntary response to excitement, arousal, fear, anxiety, or any other number of emotions. Hackles alone can’t tell you whether or not a dog is concerned about the other and they may calm over time.

Keep an eye out for other concerning body postures coupled with hackles before intervening. If you are concerned about the body language, the handlers can pick up the ends of the leashes and move in opposite directions to move the dogs away from one another.

Carefully watch the body language as described above. Hackles, or the raised hair along a dog’s back, are an involuntary response to excitement, arousal, fear, anxiety, or any other number of emotions. Hackles alone can’t tell you whether or not a dog is concerned about the other and they may calm over time. Keep an eye out for other concerning body postures coupled with hackles before intervening. If you are concerned about the body language, the handlers can pick up the ends of the leashes and move in opposite directions to move the dogs away from one another.

Once you are comfortable that the dogs are doing well together outside the home, pick up the leashes and take the new dog into the house while the second person remains outside with the resident dog.

Giving the new dog an opportunity to explore the home on her own can allow the dogs time to relax from the initial meeting as well as give the new dog a chance to get to know her new surroundings without the established dog interfering. You can also take this opportunity to remove any food, toys, bones, bedding, or other items that might trigger conflict between the dogs. Peek under the furniture and in between couch cushions for bones and toys hidden away.

Giving the new dog the chance to enter the home first can often diffuse territorial issues. After the new dog has explored the home, bring the new dog into a large room, on a leash, to prevent the dogs from having an initial meeting in the home in a narrow hallway or entryway, and then bring the resident dog into the same room, also on a leash. When the dogs are not focused on each other, drop the leashes and allow both dogs to further investigate the room and each other.

Be patient. Bringing a new dog home requires that everyone make some adjustments, especially your current pets. And it will take time for your dogs to build a comfortable relationship.

This means observing their behavior toward each other when the door bell rings, when a squirrel is seen outside the window and other such exciting circumstances. It is okay to crate your new dog when you cannot supervise, even if the resident dog is allowed free roam. It is best to place the crated dog in a room behind a closed door away from the other dog so they cannot “talk” to each other through the crate door.

Take your time to observe their interactions before choosing to leave them alone unsupervised. Consider getting breakaway collars for safety for crated dogs and when two dogs are playing to avoid any accidents.

Puppies usually pester adult dogs unmercifully. Before approximately the age of four months, or sometimes older, puppies may not recognize subtle body postures from adult dogs signaling that they’ve had enough.

Well-socialized adult dogs with good temperaments may set limits with puppies with a growl or snarl, never hurting the puppy although the puppy may yelp out of surprise. This communication is healthy and should be allowed.

Adult dogs that aren’t well socialized, or that have a history of fighting with other dogs, may attempt to set limits with more aggressive behaviors, such as biting, which could harm the puppy. For this reason, a puppy shouldn’t be left alone with an adult dog. Crating the puppy when alone will keep everyone safe and benefit housetraining.

Be sure to give the adult dog some quiet time away from the puppy, and perhaps some individual attention. When you help the adult dog have some space away from the puppy, the adult dog will likely be happier when it is time to be with the puppy.


Adapted from material originally developed by applied animal behaviorists at the Dumb Friends League, Denver, Colorado and ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist. All rights reserved. Longmont Humane Society 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont, CO 80501 303-772- 1232 www.longmonthumane.org


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