In some regions of the world, nativity scenes are as ubiquitous as Christmas trees during the holiday season. For example, in Mexico, it's not hard to spot displays of all sizes both in private homes and public spaces. The government of Palenque, in Southern Mexico, set up a large nativity scene on the main square. However, after a few days, locals noted an odd addition to the exhibition—a stray dog had taken over the manger. Upon closer inspection, it became clear she was not alone—she had very recently given birth to seven puppies.
On most nativity scenes, the floor is covered with hay to recreate the manger. For this one, a cover was also needed to protect the figures from the elements. Given that the weather in Palenque has been colder than usual, the dog found a safe and warm place to deliver her puppies in this setup. According to tradition, Baby Jesus is not placed in the manger until Christmas, so the mom must have found a fluffy pile of hay to rest on, obliviously jumping right into the highlighted spot of the scene.
One of the first people to spot the dog and her puppies was local journalist Eric Guzmán, who spread the word about the new residents of the manger. “I was awestruck, and at the same time joyful seeing that she had her puppies in a safe place where they won’t get wet or cold,” Guzmán told The Dodo. Picking up on the symbolism, residents began making the pilgrimage to pay their respects and offer them gifts and food. Although officials allowed them to stay, local activists Dejando Huellitas SOS stepped in to find a temporary home for the family and keep them safe from the cold and the sound of holiday fireworks.
The community has rallied around them, donating food and a bed. While they are still too little to be away from their mom, several people have shown interest in adopting one of these nativity scene puppies. “Hopefully, we as citizens will become more aware when it comes to dogs, to adopt strays [rather than buy dogs],” Guzmán said. “We should love dogs, no matter where they come from.”
If you want to stay up to date with the nativity scene dog and her puppies, or support them through donations, you can follow them and get in touch with Dejando Huellitas SOS on Facebook.