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A Look Inside:Living in San Ramon de Alajuela, Costa Rica and the Central Highlands

“DOGLAND”: A One-Woman Canine Rescue Project

When we first got to San Ramon, we constantly heard tales of the “Dog Lady” with the wild red hair and endless energy up in the hills who was rescuing and caring for every single dog in need that she encountered. Back in July 2011,  Anna & I decided it was time to arrange a meeting with this fellow dog lover and check out the operation for ourselves. We had the pleasure of meeting Helene Wirt in person at her “DOGLAND” site and we were instantly in awe of what she was tackling up there on a daily basis.



It all started back in 1997 with a cute male puppy named Balduin… An acquaintance brought Helene a little box and from this box peeked Balduin’s fuzzy white & black face. Helene fell in love right away and spent most of her time with her new friend. They watched TV together, slept together at night, and were inseparable. Helene’s relationship with Balduin is what unlocked her passion for helping homeless dogs and canines in need… It started with one little puppy and now DOGLAND houses one-hundred and ninety (190) dogs of various ages and conditions… The rescue project is held entirely on property that Helene owns and has built canine shelter areas on. Typically you’ll see anywhere from three to six dogs in one “run” which consists of a huge concrete play area, a picnic type table and bench setup with an umbrella if the pups want to get out of the sun but remain outdoors, and a large house that all the dogs get locked into at night for safety and noise regulation. Each of these areas is fully fenced with chain-link and showered daily with love and attention from Helene, her volunteers, and whatever dog lovers or potentials adoptive families stop by to hang out with Helene’s babies.










Helene has been getting overwhelmed over the last few years because the donations and the adoptions are not keeping pace with the number of dogs taken into the shelter… The one-hundred and ninety souls that she is currently caring for is by far the highest number in the history of DOGLAND and there are no signs that the trend will slow. There is a realistic danger that sometime soon she will not be able to keep up with the costs and the workload of caring for all of these dogs by herself…If that occurs, what happens to all of these sweet dogs??? Helene is very selective about who she adopts her canine friends to, but I have personally seen her working on arrangements to fly dogs to other countries if it is for the proper home. Our buddy Roy, the Siberian Husky in the two pics above, took a flight to Germany to be with his new family. If you have any interest in adopting a dog, whether you live in Costa Rica or not, please consider adopting from DOGLAND. There are so many dogs in need and it’s a shame to see folks breeding dogs or buying them while there are so many amazing dogs in shelters that need love. It’s been a blessing to see that folks are even adopting older dogs now. The dog directly above this paragraph, Balthazar, was almost a teenager already back in 11′ when we visited DOGLAND, but he was adopted by some loving ex-pats and lived out his life in San Ramon with a smile 🙂


If you would like more information about Helene’s DOGLAND operation or have questions about how to volunteer, adopt, or make a donation, please go to the DOGLAND website: http://www.meetyourdog.org/index.html

Anna & I have always had a deep love and connection with animals and Paradise Management is doing what we can to support DOGLAND in a donation capacity. For every property sale that we close, we donate 3% of our earnings directly to Helene’s labor of love. She truly is a saint doing God’s work and any assistance or relief that can be offered is greatly appreciated.






Kim Rubens-Quiros

From NY and San Jose, we are a mixed gringa/tico couple with a dream of sharing our wonderful area of San Ramon with you! Pura vida!


  • Karyna de Mejía 11 years ago

    Admirable su labor doña Elena!! Un fuerte abrazo para usted y todos los preciosos perritos de Dogland!! Los queremos muchísimo.

  • Sharon and Rick 10 years ago

    Hi Helene, my name is Sharon Ablon and my husband, Rick, and I moved here in May. I learned about your dog rescue through the CAA and Any. Would love to volunteer at your place, but have’t been able to get in touch with you. I live in El Empalme and have a car. If you need another volunteer please email me.
    Bless you for all you do for the dogs, Sharon


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