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Amores Perros.. si puedes

27 August 2010

¿Que raza es? is what I usually get asked (right after ¿Se muerde? — “does it bite?”) when I take Yaquí the wonder dog down to the beach at night … she goes crashing through the breakers to fetch plastic pop bottles and body surfs back (after which we pick up a little jetsam and flotsam to dump in the trash barrels). She usually manages to draw a few on-lookers.

Calling her a “sea-dog” doesn’t work in Spanish, and neither does “dogfish” (cazón), but a sea lion (and they’re a local critter) is a “Sea wolf” in Spanish (lobo marino)  — so I tell people she’s “medio lobo… ¡marino!“.  My vet, being a formal kind of guy, listed her breed as “mestizo”, but the truth is she’s just your standard perro de calle… just one of the very few that had the blind luck as a puppy to follow someone home who  didn’t know he was looking for a dog.

A very fortunate, and spoiled stray… much like “Not Giaco” that recently found Esther and Jim from Xico…obliging Esther and Jim to find him a sort of home.

We asked a few people on the road if they knew whose it might be, and they didn’t.  I stamped my foot and pouted and tried to convince Jim we ought to bring the dog home, at least until we could find the owner, but not so hard because I really didn’t want five dogs.

We got home, and I called Marco Antonio to see if he’d heard of anyone who was missing such a dog.  He hadn’t. As we were speaking, a ruckus erupted on the other side of the gate.  Of course, there was the dog with some kids who had brought him thinking he was ours.  Jim said we simply couldn’t take him in but we’d try to find the owners.  So one of the teenagers took him to his family’s house.  They want the dog.  I will help feed him.

In other words, one of the lucky dogs.  So, in a different way, was Cannelo — an elderly semi-chow used to accompany me and the dogs I had at the time in our walks around Santa María de la Ribera.  He  had four or five places that perhaps weren’t home, but were a good place to hang out and watch the world go by, and four or five people who watched over him (and he watched over in return) , and  probably got four or five rabies shots every March when the health department goes around vaccinating every dog they can find in Mexico — and enough to eat.  It’s a fortunate dog’s life.

I was slightly annoyed yesterday by one of the rentistas going on about “how much WE do FOR Mexico” … meaning he donates to the local animal shelter (mostly run by foreign donations).  I don’t mean in any way to denigrate our local “Amigos de los animales” and I think they are doing important work.  But what bothers me is that “WE” and that “FOR”.

No — while the rentista is engaged in useful work, I’m not sure it’s “FOR” Mexico so much as FOR his own sense of comfort:  an attempt to maintain his own denial of imperfection.  He is angry (although it is, at least, constructive anger) that “THEY” accept the imperfectiblity of existence.

One reason I chose to live in Latin America was I began to  sense of unreality of a culture like that of the United States which is in denial about our imperfect nature.  I’ve written before on the differences between the Gringo and Latin attitudes towards the ultimate in natural imperfection –death —  as something accepted in Latin America in its many (and often disturbing) forms… and nothing to be ashamed of, nor to deny.  Nor is the tragedy of the street dogs, with a life that will be nasty, brutish and short.

Most people are not consciously unkind to animals — even people without much for themselves are willing to make space in their family for a “Not Giaco”.  Dogs like “Not Giaco” and Canello (and Yaquí) ask for very little… a place to call home, a person (or, sometimes several people) who care for them (however minimally) and who they care for, a name.  But, even when compassion and willingness and love are boundless, there is only so much anyone can do.

That’s life, and life — for all it’s imperfections and tragedy — is something to be embraced and contemplated. Mario Ballesteros (manañarama) posted this photo of the  “Monument to the street dog”, in Delegacíon Tlalpan, Distrito Federal.

The plaque reads:

My only crime is to have been born on the street or to have been abandoned. I didn’t ask to be born.  In spite of your indifference and your beatings, I ask only for whatever is left of your love. I don’t want to suffer anymore, surviving the world is only a matter of horror! Please help me!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Maggie permalink
    27 August 2010 11:19 am

    Thxs for this Richard. I want to take them all in, alas. When people ask us what kind of pup our is, we just say she’s a Mexicana Pura.


  2. Ana permalink
    27 August 2010 11:59 am

    The only thing sadder than that plaque is that it could be placed on the sculpture of a child. Not one word need be changed

  3. dry house permalink
    30 August 2010 7:58 pm

    living in the campo with the animals of all types…we have our dogs, and they bark at the dogs at the edges, and now and then we have to shoot the bad dog come growling…

    nice article…

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