Workers at the Panamanian port of Atlantico were shocked when they opened a shipping container from Spain that was supposed to be empty.
Inside was a dog, still alive despite being trapped for 40 days while the container crossed the Atlantic from Andalusia.
The caramel-colored dog, about a year old, was skinny, dehydrated, and bruised.
It’s a miracle that this little animal could survive for so long, which is why we named it Milagros (miracles) or Mili for short.
Hugo Turillazzi, veterinarian at the Canine Service of the Ministry of Agriculture of Panama.
Now, after several months of rehabilitation and training, Mili has taken a job with the MIDA Department of Agricultural Development.
“We don’t know how she got inside and how she wasn’t found,” said Cecilia de Escobar, national director of the animal health ministry.
“This is the story of a heroine, because a small animal that is in a container for 40 days, without water, without food, how did it fight for its life?”
The ocean voyage lasted 20 days in December 2021 before the container lay in port in hot and humid Panama for another 20 days in January.
“Part of the container was rusted, and there we found a small hole. We assume that she opened the hole with her paw and drank rainwater.”
There was a lot of rain during the trip and in Panama.
After being discovered, Mili was taken to Panama City where she was treated by veterinarians and quarantine specialists.
She weighed only nine pounds (four kilograms), according to Hugo Turigliazzi, veterinarian and administrator of MIDA’s canine department.
Mr. Turiliazzi believes that Mili was in good physical shape when she entered the container and managed to survive on her fat.
In addition to rainwater, she could lick condensation from the inside walls of the container, or even drink her own urine.
“It’s a miracle that this little animal could survive for so long, which is why we named it Milagros (miracles) or Mili for short,” he said.
“And since she came from Spain, we named her Mili, the little Spaniard.”
Now fully recovered, Mili weighs over 12 kilograms and is in excellent physical shape.
Within five months of her discovery, Mili was recuperating and trained in the canine division of the ministry.
Having learned to identify the aromas of fruits and vegetables, Miley began working a week ago “with good results.”
The dogs in her unit work at the capital’s international airport, detecting fresh produce in travelers’ luggage to prevent foreign diseases from entering the country.
Whenever she discovers a suspicious piece of luggage, she scratches it and then sits next to it to await her reward.
“Mili has the four main characteristics that a dog needs to join a troop: friendliness, gentleness with people, good appetite and playfulness,” said dog handler Edgardo Aguirre.
“We said to ourselves: this dog has the potential, she will be able to make seizures.”
Miley has already managed to find grains, fruits and sausages.
Now she is learning to spot giant African snails, a species that could ruin local agriculture.
“She’s a scanner that doesn’t cost very much, just the food and love we give her and she’s very trustworthy,” said Mr. Turigliazzi.
Now Mili helps those who saved her.
“They say everyone has a purpose in life and I feel like Mili should have been adopted by Panama and be a great service to our country,” said Ms. De Escobar.