I Traveled to Colombia to Help Rescue a Puppy for the 2020 Puppy Bowl

A behind-the-scenes look into my journey with Cartagena Paws.

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Wayni Jiang

Who needs the Super Bowl when you have the Puppy Bowl? On Sunday, February 2, Animal Planet will host the 16th annual Puppy Bowl where 96 adoptable puppies from 61 animal shelters and rescue organizations will play against each other in the puppy version of a football game (you can see this year's roster here). The end goal? For all of the puppies to find loving homes.

Elementary school teacher Maureen Cattieu, who founded Cartagena Paws—a non-profit organization based in Colombia dedicated to rescuing abandoned animals—helped bring puppies over to the United States for the annual event. Because the puppies need flight companions, Cartagena Paws relies on volunteers to bring them back safely to the U.S. That's where I come in.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at my journey with Cartagena Paws before the 2020 Puppy Bowl, ahead.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 1

Arriving in Cartagena, Colombia. It was a sweltering 91 degrees and beautiful.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 1

We immediately took a walk around the eclectic city, which was infused with color and buzzing with energy.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 1

The outside of our hotel.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 1

Every corner is gorgeous.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 1

We came upon a homeless dog in the street. They were all so gentle.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 1

Our first meal was at a local restaurant called La Mulata that had a menu solely in Spanish, where we shared ceviche and avocado salads with rice pyramids. YUM.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 1

First sunset! I mean, not bad, eh?

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

Breakfast at the hotel. The colors here are just so lush.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

We entered La Boquilla Via, an impoverished community in Cartagena, where the rescue provides education programs for the children and people who live there.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

Two sweet dogs from the villa playing together.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

Here she is nursing her pups!

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Wanyi JIang
Day 2

This little boy was so excited to show off the puppies. I couldn’t decide who's cutest.

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Wanyi JIang
Day 2

Feeling humbled and blessed to be with the animals and children.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

The kids have never seen a Chinese person before, but we found a common language: The Karate Kid. They told me they loved the most recent rendition of that movie. Thanks, Jackie Chan!

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

They were all so eager to show us the puppies.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

The children had a way with the animals that made them feel safe.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

Sick of looking at pictures of puppies? No? Okay.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

You asked for it!

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

Group pic! The adults from left to right are Nicole Vanderploeg from Animal Planet, award-winning animal advocate Jill Rappaport, and me, dog lover.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

Me, per usual, running around in search of food.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

Nicole and I, right before we found the food...

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

...But not before we ran out of film! We went on a mad hunt to find it, and when we finally did, we cheered when we walked into the photo shop.

The shopkeeper insisted we fist-bump. Well, in this case, it was a fist palm-bump. Doesn’t have the same ring to it, but it works.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

On our way to pick up the rescue pup, we saw cats outside of the animal shelter. There are so many stray animals everywhere and we wanted to take them all!

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

HERE SHE IS! Sol means "sun." She’s being held by Rose Kenney, co-director of Cartagena Paws.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

Sol was a well-behaved angel since day one. After a few months of care and vet appointments, she’s been adopted by a family in Key West, Florida.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

Me, looking straight into the "sun."

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 2

The team of volunteers at dinner! Left to right: Rose Kenney, co-director; Camila Mejia, fixer for shoot; Angelica Torres, rescue & rehab, Cartagena Paws; Jazmin Perez, Cartagena Paws; Simon, producer.

We should all be wearing "Must Love Dogs" shirts, TBH.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 3

Saying goodbye to Cartagena!

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 3

At the airport, we meet Star, the other puppy that we brought back with us to the U.S. Here she is with Nicole.

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Wanyi Jiang
Day 3

Jazmin had to say goodbye to Star and I think the pup knew!

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