By Janet McAfee

The tiny brindle puppy was found by workers at a carrot factory in rural Thermal on October 29, 2021. The area is farmland with no residential neighborhoods, making it a destitute location for stray animals. The female puppy was lethargic, ached from thirst and hunger, and could not have survived much longer. One of the employees drove her to the Loving All Animals shelter in Coachella.

There was concern the young pup might have parasites from drinking standing water, or worse yet a serious disease like parvo. She was thoroughly vetted, and fortunately had no serious illness. However, the dog they named Viva was fearful and skittish around people, a sign of probable mistreatment by whoever owned her.

The adorable dog caught the eye of prospective adopters and on December 19, 2021, Viva was adopted. Loving All Animals (LAA) provides follow up and professional training assistance to its animals. Puppies are adorable, but also very active. Viva chewed on things in the home and nibbled on human hands and feet. On March 10, just before a professional trainer was scheduled to arrive, the adopter relinquished Viva back to LAA. Dogs can sense when they are not welcome in a home, and Viva was aloof and skittish upon return. The now 6-month-old sad dog was placed in a yard with another dog, spending much of her time in a corner alone.


Sylvia Rios was already volunteering at the Coachella shelter when it was gifted to Loving All Animals in 2018. She happily continued, socializing the dogs, leash training, and transporting them to appointments.

Sylvia never knew the joy of having a dog growing up. That changed when she met and married dog lover Gabriel Rios. Their first home included dogs as part of the family. Sylvia tells us, “Our Muffy was my best friend, helping me in so many ways and bringing joy. We were distraught when this 16-year-old terrier girl passed away on February 28.”

The couple began looking for rescue dog postings in Las Vegas where the couple has a second home. They planned to name their new family member “Viva” after the Elvis movie and phrase “Viva Las Vegas”. During the next Loving All Animals’ Zoom staff meeting, Sylvia was amazed to hear about Viva’s return. She excitedly told Gabriel, “Honey, you won’t believe what just happened!” The couple couldn’t wait to bring Viva home to join their two other rescue dogs. There is an uncanny physical resemblance between Viva and Muffy, both Terrier mix females.

Viva is doing great in the Rios home. Dogs happily transform when their journey to a great home ends. She is still full of puppy energy, likes to nibble, and wants to play with her older dog siblings who tolerate her wildness. Viva sleeps by Sylvia’s side at night, sometimes kicking as if she dreams about karate. Viva is Sylvia’s constant companion and comfort.

The young dog became house trained almost immediately, politely ringing the bell placed by the front door. The lucky pup is a star at Dream Dogs Training. Sylvia notes Viva is afraid of trucks during walks and on car rides. This could be from large trucks passing while she ran frantically down the rural roads of Thermal as a tiny puppy.

You can learn more about the world of rescue animals and resources for them at Like LOVING ALL ANIMALS INC. on Facebook and Instagram.

Viva’s journey to a wonderful home was truly magical. Sylvia tells us, “If you are looking for a dog, you will find your next best friend at a rescue. Viva was truly a gift to us from Muffy!”

Previous articleCountry Rich
Next articleFighting the IPA Stigma