Staff at Panama’s Atlantico port were in for a shock after they opened a shipping container that had arrived from Spain and was meant to be empty.
Inside was a dog, still alive despite having been trapped for 40 days while the container crossed the Atlantic from Andalucia.
The caramel-colored dog, roughly one 12 months old, was skinny, dehydrated and bruised.
Now, after months of rehabilitation and training, Mili has gotten a job on the MIDA agricultural development ministry.
“We do not understand how she got in, nor how she wasn’t detected,” said Cecilia de Escobar, the national director for animal health on the ministry.
“It is the story of a heroine because a little bit animal that’s inside a container for 40 days, with no water, no food, how did it fight for its life?”
The December 2021 oceanic voyage had lasted 20 days before the container sat on the port in hot and humid Panama for an additional 20 days in January.
“An element of the container was corroded and there we found a little bit hole. We assume she opened the opening along with her paw and drank rain water.”
Each throughout the journey and in Panama, there was loads of rain.
After her discovery, Mili was taken to Panama City and treated by vets and quarantine specialists.
She weighed just nine kilos (4kg) when she arrived, said Hugo Turillazzi, a vet and administrator within the canine unit at MIDA.
Turillazzi believes Mili was in good physical shape when she entered the container and managed to survive off her body fat.
Along with the rain water, she could have licked the condensation off the container’s inner partitions and even drunk her own urine.
“It is a miracle that this little animal was capable of survive so long, that is why we gave her the name Milagros (miracles) or Mili for brief”, he said.
“And as she got here from Spain we called her Mili the little Spaniard.”
Now fully recovered, Mili weighs 27 kilos and is in tip-top physical shape.
Low-cost four-legged ‘scanner’
In the course of the five months after her discovery, Mili hung out recovering and being trained on the ministry’s canine unit.
Having learned to detect the aromas of fruit and vegetables, Mili began working per week ago “with good results.”
Dogs in her unit work on the capital’s international airport, detecting fresh food in travelers’ luggage to forestall outside diseases entering the country.
Every time she detects a suspicious piece of baggage, she scratches it after which sits down beside it waiting for her reward.
“Mili has the 4 basic characteristics that a canine needs to affix the unit: friendly, gentle with people, a very good appetite and playful,” said dog trainer Edgardo Aguirre.
“We told ourselves: this little dog has potential, she’s going to have the ability to make seizures.”
Mili has already managed to detect grains, fruit and charcuterie.
She is now training to detect the large African snail, a species that may ravage local agriculture.
“She’s a scanner that does not cost very much, only the food and affection that we give her, and he or she’s very trustworthy,” said Turillazzi.
Now Mili is the one helping people who rescued her.
“They are saying that everybody has a purpose in life, and I feel that Mili’s was to be adopted by Panama and to offer an awesome service to our country,” said De Escobar.
(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)