CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) - Venezuelan migrant Brayan Pinto, 18, and his small fluffy white dog, Brandy, trekked together across several countries and a treacherous tropical jungle to reach the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Sunday, the two companions had to say goodbye.
"She's been with me for two years," Pinto said, hugging the fluffy animal with the pink collar - a mix of Pekingese and toy poodle - within view of El Paso, Texas.
Brandy had been a gift from his mother before her death to become his emotional support pet, and the little dog had crossed several borders with him.
"Now that we've reached the United States, they tell me I have to leave her because she can't cross to the other side," he said.
Before walking alone towards the U.S. border, Pinto recalled their long journey together, including nine days through the notoriously dangerous Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia.
"Leaving her is like leaving a family member," Pinto said.
Then he sadly put Brandy into the arms of a photo journalist who had agreed to take care of her in Mexico, and nestled his face into her curly fur for a final farewell.
(The story refiles with day as Sunday, not Monday and spelling of dog's name as "Brandy".)
(Reporting by Jose Luis Gonzalez, Editing by Daina Beth Solomon and Rosalba O'Brien)