Our Dog was Held for Ransom in Granada, Nicaragua

Our Dog was Held for Ransom in Granada, Nicaragua

- in Life, Uncategorized

No kidding. Can you believe that shit?! Here’s the story…

New Year’s Eve night I went out for drinks with our neighbor. Roberta and Levi were out of town in Matagalpa taking care of some moving logistics. The next day I was leaving with a truck at noon with all of our stuff. We would officially no longer live in Granada.

When I returned home shortly after midnight our little dog, Lyle, shot out of the door as soon as soon as I opened it and bolted right toward La Calzada, the primary party strip in Granada. This was New Year’s Eve, as I mentioned, which means La Calzada was a loud, undulating blob of drunk party goers. The moment Lyle entered the crowd, he was out of sight.

Lyle had gotten out before, but usually he just sort of trots down the street and is easy to recover. But this night he was so terrified of all the loud fireworks going off he panicked. The problem isn’t only that Lyle is afraid of fireworks (which are shot off often here) but that he thinks the noise is coming from inside the house. He always goes nuts trying to find out where in the house these noises are! On New Year’s Eve Granada’s fireworks output was roughly 110% more than normal, so Lyle must have been insane with fear. When I opened the door he couldn’t get out of the house fast enough.

I looked for him until almost 2 in the morning, although I knew my odds of finding him were essentially zero. The next morning I had to do some last minute packing before the truck showed up at noon. Still, I went out and looked around for him in town 3 or 4 times. I was leaving Granada for good the day after my dog disappeared! I never expected to see the dog again. I thought surely he must have ran so fast, so far that he was completely lost.

Lyle with Levi watching Star Wars at our Granada house.

He never turned up and I arrived in Matagalpa with no dog. Immediately we contacted Granada Animal Outreach for help and sent them pictures. They posted about it on their Facebook page and many of their followers offered support and to keep an eye out for the little guy.

The next day there was a comment on the Facebook post that I should call Finn and Donna with Granada Animal Outreach. I did and couldn’t believe what I was told. Finn, herself, had actually seen Lyle New Year’s Eve night after he’d escaped! She saw him run into a house and it caught her eye because Lyle looked like a dog a friend of hers owns. She went to the house and asked about the dog and they told her they had bought Lyle from a drug addict and they wouldn’t give him up unless they were paid $50 USD. Not having $50 on her at the time, there wasn’t anything she could do.

A couple of days later Finn returned to the house and paid the ransom. She sent me this picture once she had him:

Lyle found!

Saturday morning she and Donna just happened to already be coming to Matagalpa to deliver two dogs to the shelter here (what a coincidence!) so they brought Lyle along. We reimbursed them $50 and donated another $50 to Granada Animal Outreach.

She described the house where he had been held. It was a house on La Calzada where an elderly couple with two other small dogs lived. I immediately knew the house she spoke of because Lyle’s daily walk went right past it. These people were always sitting outside with their dogs! We’ve exchanged greetings with them!

Finn said that – other than the ransom thing – the people were nice and took good care of Lyle. He even slept in the wife’s bed. She figures that the wife wanted to keep Lyle, but the husband saw it as a chance to make some quick cash.

Thanks to Finn, Donna, and Granada Animal Outreach!

About the author

I lived in Granada, Nicaragua for a while with my wife and kid. Now I don't. But we like to get back there whenever we can, unless we go somewhere else.


  1. hi,
    are u still living in nicaragua??? would love to know how u liked matagalpa and granada on a whole.
    thanks much ,

    1. Unfortunately I’m not living in Nicaragua now, although I did just get back from a two week visit there. I will soon be looking for property to buy there.

      This below is a copy / paste of an email I sent to someone with a similar question. I did not visit Matagalpa on this most recent trip, but I presume the info is largely still accurate. I hope it helps out. Let me know if you have any additional questions!

      “That’s a tough question! both places are awesome but for different reasons. I think, ultimately, it comes down to personal taste and until you visit Matagalpa all my recommendations here might be nothing more than useless pixels, but I’ll proceed. And thanks for checking out my blog! I’m glad you enjoyed it…I wish I still had a reason to keep it up, but hopefully I’ll be back in Nica for a while in 2015.

      What follows may be a bit rambling and thinking-out-loud, but maybe you can chisel something valuable out of it…

      I have certainly thought about where I would prefer to stay if we moved back for the long term. I think what we would do is live in Matagalpa, but have a vehicle so we could venture out to Granada and other places at will. Other than a little scooter, we never owned a vehicle in Nicaragua. Driving from Matagalpa to Granada would only take about 2.5 hours, but we always took a chicken bus which can take upwards of 5 hours because they stop every ten feet to pick up more people…you can hail a bus on the highway in Nicaragua like you can hail a cab in NY.

      While Matagalpa does not have all the tourist appeal of Granada, it has a much better infrastructure. In other words, once you get to a point where you’re over the touristy stuff and just have to deal with normal non-vacation day-to-day living, it’s much easier in Matagalpa than in Granada. I’ve never been to Disneyland but I sort of think of Granada as the Epcot Center version of Nicaragua and Matagalpa as the real life version of Nicaragua. Granada is beautiful and entertaining and full of incredibly nice people and is extremely expat-friendly, but it’s as if all of the money tourists bring in never leaves the La Calzada strip and the few surrounding streets. Once you venture out – beyond the big street market, for instance – things get pretty run down and neglected.

      Matagalpa is not as user friendly for newcomers, because it’s not geared for tourism and it’s economy isn’t powered by that. It is a Nicaraguan city of Nicaraguans. There’s some expats there, for sure, but they are mostly very ingrained old dudes who’ve been bouncing around the country for years.”

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