The story of the American backpacker who adopted a quiltra while crossing Chile

Reem Ikram had an instant connection with a mixed-race dog she found in Chilean Patagonia. After accompanying each other for several kilometers on the Carretera Austral, the young woman understood that it was something special and took her to the United States.

“Sometimes life isn’t real,” he says in a video from ICT Tac the young Pakistani-American Reem Ikram (25) . His words are due to the fact that he was backpacking for several months in Latin America and almost at the end of his trip, during his brief stay in a small town in southern Chile, he came across a quiltra that conquered his heart and that he could no longer forget.

Her bond with the large, long-haired brown and white mixed-breed dog was so strong that she was convinced she couldn’t abandon him, the young woman told La Tercera. And the story had a happy ending: following her instinct, Reem decided to adopt her and named her Zorah, which means “dawn” in Arabic.

Today, they are together at their home in Salt Lake City, USA, where both can only give happiness after ending up in the most unexpected place.

In October last year, Reem embarked on an intense journey across the American South with her boyfriend, Michael Guynn. During the seven months of the journey, they passed through countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

“I wanted to gain confidence, challenge myself and live an adventurous life. Growing up in a Muslim household I was very limited in what I could do, I was always told that if I wanted to do anything I had to wait until I got married and that is not something I believe,” says Reem.

The last point of their route was Chile, where they decided to cycle part of the Carretera Austral. Although many had recommended that they not do the route in this way, especially since in April the weather can start to be a little more difficult, Reem and Michael decided to risk the adventure.

This would be the start of how his story with Zorah took shape, which even went viral on social media for Reem had been counting every step since she had found the Chilean quiltra.

Reem Ikram adopted Zorah, a dog from the city of La Junta, and brought her to the United States. Photo: Social networks.

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The encounter between a backpacker and a quiltra in southern Chile

It was the morning of April 5 in the town of La Junta, in the Aysén region. Reem and Michael had gone to have breakfast at a restaurant near their cabin, and when they were done, they decided to go to a park across the street.

“While we were playing in the park we saw two dogs, one of them was Zorah. We thought they were both so cute, we played with them and they were so nice to us, we were just hanging out,” Reem says plainly.

After playing with them, the young woman called her mother and showed her how beautiful Zorah was. “I told him that Michael and I were joking about adopting a dog while we were backpacking through South America,” he says.

Her mother was surprised and asked to speak to Zorah on the phone. At this time, the woman spoke in Urdu to the box: “If you have a good heart and want to live a happy life, you will come with these two people” . Reem watched the whole moment carefully. He told her he would call her later and he and his boyfriend headed for the cabin where they were staying.

“I noticed Zora starting to follow us and I was like ‘hmm, that’s weird.’ We didn’t feed her, we weren’t leashed, she just started following us. Then when we got to the cabin she wanted to come in and sleep with us. We found her very nice and let her sleep with us. He never left us.” says Rem.

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That day, Reem spoke to Zorah as if they had known each other forever: “We told her that we cycled about 30 miles a day and if she wanted to come with us, we were going to make sure we did a lot of stopped and hitchhiked to meet her, that he might be with us.

The couple bought the pup a harness in case she came with them, as they had to leave town the next day. And he ignored them. As Reem and Michael pedaled hard in the April Patagonian cold, Zorah ran alongside almost non-stop. He never abandoned them.

To take care of the dog’s state of health, the couple tried to treat her diet as much as possible, give her lots of affection and rest if necessary so that she could continue.

“During this whole trip, Zorah has been really amazing, she is very obedient, she listens to us, it’s as if she understands English. We also speak to him in Spanish. It’s as if he could understand everything we said. I knew everything” Reem said emotionally.

After 6 days of traveling through some towns on the Carretera Austral, they stopped in Coyhaique for a few weeks, where Reem took Zorah to the vet to check that her health was fine and that they could give her vaccinations. It was obvious that he couldn’t leave her and that the decision had been made since the day they met.

Reem and Zorah visited a few towns on the Carretera Austral. Photo: Social networks.

Zorah’s arrival in the United States

“We wanted to make sure we could bring her to the United States. If you traveled with an unknown dog for 6 days on a crazy adventure, would you leave him behind? No, you want to have this dog in your life forever, so we wanted to make sure he was vaccinated and had the correct papers,” says Reem.

The most complicated part came when drafting the paperwork needed to get Zorah out of Chile. They had to wait several days, change flights and insist with the airport staff. They did all of this to ensure that Zorah could accompany them to the United States permanently. Reem left the country in mid-April, while Michael was able to leave the first week of May.

“We did it. Now she lives with us, she lives a very happy life, she has a brother and she plays with him all the time. We are going to make sure that we can run a lot with her, so that she don’t get bored,” says the young woman.

Zorah is already in her new home in the United States. Photo: Social networks.

After her story spread on TikTok, Reem was contacted by people from La Junta who told her that Zorah was called Guampa in her past and that she had been abandoned by her previous owner. Now it’s behind.

Reflecting on how this quiltra came into her life, Reem is grateful, “She’s amazing, she’s our adventure dog.” And anticipate what could happen in the future: assures that it is more than likely that they will continue to travel with her later, whether through Asia, Europe and even Africa.

Source: Latercera

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