Showing posts with label dogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dogs. Show all posts

Sunday, January 21, 2024

She Is Gone

Once in a while I pull out the leash to walk our two dogs to neighboring fields in the afternoon. They love it. When Mali Nalli, our Xoloitzcuintle, hears the word “walk” and sees the leash she goes frantic with happiness, jumping in the air with all four feet off the ground. Avión, our adopted stray boy gets excited too, whimpering in delight, then running to the front gate.

There are a couple dog packs nearby, so I have to guard MaliNalli until we are in the clear, then I can take the leash off. She loves to playfully attack Avión as we walk.

Mali Nalli
Recently, I walked with the dogs at close to 5 PM to the usual place⏤a corn field that is now just cut dried stalks and dry earth. We have to follow a couple dirt roads to get there. I turned into the field and decided to go left instead of the usual right in order to explore a different view. After maybe 100 feet, I turned to see Avión by my side, but Mali Nalli was nowhere to be seen. I whistled, which is her cue to come to me. Nothing. Concerned, I went to the road thinking she had found something interesting that had been thrown there. I whistled loudly but no response. 
Soon I became rather frightened as my mind began running with various possibilities⏤none of them good. My biggest fear was she had been stolen by somebody who saw her. She is beautiful, in good shape and her breed is famous in Mexico. Stuff like that happens. In the news lately has been the disappearance of a beautiful young woman in training to be a doctor who left work at a local hospital one night and has been missing ever since.

I walked around whistling, with heart pounding as I thought about telling Amy who was busy making dinner at home. She would have a heart attack I thought. 

I reluctantly started back to the house, Avión beside me. “Where is she?” I said, hoping he would lead me to her. He stayed by my side. At a nearby home I walked into the property looking. Several young men were outside working. I asked in my broken Spanish, saying “Where is my little dog? She is gone.” They had not seen her. I harbored faint suspicions, as I turned to go home. 

Avión and I reached our locked gate. As I opened it, Mali Nalli began barking from inside the house! She appeared at the window, barking excitedly. I almost cried with relief. WTF? I thought. Inside, Amy said, “She came charging in without you. I was worried.” 
I said, “I thought something bad happened. She disappeared. I went calling her but she was nowhere to be found. I thought she had been stolen.”  
Both of us stood there, flabbergasted until I looked at the clock and saw it was just past 5. Amy had been home making dinner, and 5 PM is when the dogs are fed each day.
“She came home for dinner!” I said.
“How did she get in past the locked gate?” Amy asked.

We both laughed with relief, realizing what most likely had happened and that we had our family together safe and sound.

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Give It To The Dogs


Give it to the dogs this week. I will explain in a moment.

At long last, the old tires that served as steps out front of our grand house are replaced by stone and mortar. I had a masonry contracting business forty five years ago⏤so old skills came in handy. The steps properly give a grander entrance to our home from our gate and parking area. 

Back to the dogs. We have two: MaliNalli is our proper house pet and a pedigree Xoloitzcuintle, the famous native Mexican breed. Avión is a dog that showed up on our property, starved and living on trash. He was in such bad shape that although we were helping two other dogs in similar plight, Amy fed him against my advise and he stuck to us like glue. The other two dogs are gone. One killed by mongrels and the other went back to former owners. Avión is our outdoor dog. We had him neutered and given vaccinations. His name means “airplane” in Spanish. His ears stand out like wings when he is attentive. Avión will always have problems. He would certainly be dead by now if left to himself.

Recently, MaliNalli became listless and scared us. She had a temperature of 105. The breed normally runs high temps but we were very concerned. A drive to the vet takes forty minutes. We took her for tests. At the gate when we arrived home, was Avión, covered with blood. I thought there had been an accident. Soon I saw blood spurting from his nose and he was snorting it out in red blasts of droplets. Turns out both dogs have been affected by ticks. Avión has parasitic worms around his heart and probably in his nasal passages. We have made long trips to the veterinary clinic every two days for checkups, injections, tests . . .

The dogs seem to be on the mend. MaliNalli is back to her old self and Avión has had only one brief bleeding spell. We have been advised to keep the two apart, since Avión is in much more trouble and could infect MaliNalli. MaliNalli has had a series of four injections and both dogs are on pills for two weeks. Whew! A handful.   

Americans that visit or move to Mexico are shocked at the condition and circumstances of the dog population. They can be seen roaming streets⏤maimed, hobbled with broken limbs, starving or with mange. Humans seldom take animals to vets for vaccinations or to be neutered. They are left on their own in poverty and blight. Not to say all Mexican dogs are like this.

A couple days ago, Pilar, the girl who lives in the large family above us on our hill showed up at our gate in the morning. Several puppies were missing. Their mother had been run over by a car, so the story went. Her grandmother heard puppies crying during the night. The sound came from our property. MaliNalli had been running up the hill sniffing the ground. Close to our property line, under a big fallen cactus in a cove in the ground, amidst dense underbrush, two squealing puppies were found. They were newborns and did not have their eyes open yet. Strangely, a bowl was there. Amy asked, and Pilar said it came from her house. Amy asked if someone had put the puppies there. Pilar looked confused and did not answer. She was very happy cuddling the pups in her arms as she left. 

Amy and I have never visited these particular neighbors who have been troublesome. Yet some of the kids come to our home on Sundays for art classes, free materials and refreshments. We love the children. 

We often hear of animals mysteriously dying up there. We have found a dead dog on our land, and at least once saw a father from the hill clan racing down with a bag to empty somewhere by a creek. Probably dead puppies. 

The night after finding the pups, after watching our evening movie, we went outdoors to stand in the fresh air and let MaliNalli do her business. Amy heard whimpering from above. We went to the cactus log and I could hear the crying. After searching with a flashlight, I managed to pull a pup from out of the earth. It was too young to have its eyes open. We fed it warm milk and put it in a dog kennel for the night. The next morning we called the grandmother and within seconds three children were at our gate. Pilar took the pup with joy and her little brother said, “How sweet!”

Sunday, October 23, 2022


After we moved to Mexico Amy wanted a dog. Not me. I had not owned a dog for over twenty years because I traveled frequently for extended periods. 

When I met Amy in 2017 she had an old chihuahua named Unica. It died within a year. We married in 2018 and moved to Oaxaca, Mexico in 2019. Here, especially outside the city, many destitute animals wander around neglected. Three adopted us. It was because we pitied them and fed them. After the first two I told Amy not to show compassion any more. But a starving brown dog was too much for her to look at⏤and then there were three. One was murdered by a roaming alpha male that asserts himself over the vicinity. One we care for cannot be touched. Each has his own set of fears.

These dogs came to us. But in her heart, Amy wanted the dog that is considered an emblem of Mexico, called Xoloitzcuintle. I had never seen one before moving to Mexico. At first sight I found them rather repulsive. Hairless, wrinkled, with often a tuft of colored hair (moica ) shooting up between their eyes onto the forehead. Amy had an attraction to the Xoloitzcuintle. Maybe because she is a person who deeply feels cultural roots. The name is from the Nahuatl language. Nahua people primarily live in central Mexico and comprise the largest indigenous group. The Aztecs and Toltecs are descendants.

Famous Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera had several  Xoloitzcuintles. Frida's favorite was “Mr. Xolotl,” after the Aztec canine deity and guardian of the underworld.

Amy began following online posts about Oaxaca Xoloitzcuintle. We almost bought one, but it was just before a two month trip to the east coast and Europe. While we were gone, our house sitters took care of feeding the “adopted” dogs that showed up at the backdoor each day.

It happened quickly. Amy saw on Facebook that the breeder here in Oaxaca had a puppy for sale. It was available because the people who had asked for it had not responded to phone calls. We went to have a look, meeting at a nearby coffee shop. The breeder, Enrique, arrived late. Opening the front of his jacket, two big ears popped out, then a little face with inquisitive eyes. With a half hour it was done. We drove home with our Xoloitzcuintle. It will be a medium sized female. 

So far so good. Her name is Malinalli, a day in the Aztec calendar associated with the god Patecatl. Patecatl is associated with medicine, healing, and fertility. She is the most intelligent animal I have ever had. Curious, attentive, playful and sometimes obstreperous. She trains quickly.

Amy is her favorite. 

I call her Molly.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Endlessly Changing

“Physical bodies are transferred past one barrier after another, from one life to another, and all things are subject to transformation and change, save only the essence of existence itself -- since it is constant and immutable, and upon it is founded the life of every species and kind, of every contingent reality throughout the whole of creation.” - Abdu'l-Baha

This quote is so beautiful and profound. I found it because a few days ago my dog had to be euthanized in front of my wife Lori and I. He was not even one year old, but had come to us with weaknesses that led to his demise. In the brief time he was with us, he had made our hearts more open and full. Now, we were faced with ordering his death—and in that we were also dying a little.

During this sadness, I felt again the feelings I experienced losing my beloved daughter, Naomi, who died from cancer at the tender age of nineteen. I have always known Naomi went from one life into the next, and she is in an exalted realm now. But what about our dog, Chamo?

The way I have been living is so simple, that I do not even own a shovel, or piece of earth. Lori has a house 45 minutes from Santa Fe, but when we put down Chamo at 6 AM, August 16, I could not go back there immediately, so we had him cremated. And that is all that is left. Our memories of him fill us with emotion . . . but nothing else remains. In this world, only humans have rational souls that can communicate through all eternity, from every dimension.

As for the physical elements that were held together by divine love and made the creature that we called Chamo—they have returned to dust, to be scattered and rise again in many forms, endlessly changing in the play of cosmic unfolding.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chamo's Adventure

It is remarkable how different are the charms of a forest from season to season. Now, in winter, our forest in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is covered in deep snow. Heidi Of The Mountain’s and I arrived at a popular trail this morning just after sunrise, put on snowshoes, and along with our puppy, Chamo, hiked into the magical woods. The only sound to be heard was the crunch of snow under our feet.

Chamo had his first adventure in snow. He is an enthusiastic puppy—a poodle with jet-black curly hair. It is wonderful to see him when he joyfully bounds in the air with all feet off the ground. Soon, he played games with snowballs that he created with his jumping. The bits of snow rolled in balls down the steep slope, and he liked chasing them just ahead of his nose. The trail is packed from skiers and hikers, but is softer on the sides. Heidi, who adores Chamo watched in delight and then horror as Chamo chased a snowball into the powder, sinking with each step but continuing on until he was in over his head and could not move. “Steven!” she cried. Chamo struggled and managed to turn himself around, thrashing the snow but sinking. He managed to clamber back up the hill, but midway, another snowball rolled away and he went after it. “No Chamo!” we both shouted at once. He had become a snowball himself, whiter than black. “Steven, save him!” But I did not want to go down the hill. A few minutes later, Chamo managed to hop and thrash his way upwards, his nose barely above the snow, then reach Heidi’s arms on the trail. He has puppy energy, so we continued our hike while I pondered if there was a moral to the story of Chamo’s adventure chasing snowballs into the unknown.