Living in Honduras or Guatemala as a foreigner is sometimes hard, mostly fun and never boring. This Blog is about more than just the oddities of my years in the not-so tranquil, cobble-stoned town of Copán Ruinas and, more recently, Antigua Guatemala. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dogs found and lost


The pool hall up the road had finally turned off their rancheras or porn movie or whatever the guys were up too, so the night was as quiet as night in Copán can be: the soft murmuring of the creek below my house, an orchestra of crickets, a dog barking in the distance and a mistaken rooster much closer by. So it wasn’t this loud but normal silence that woke me up at two in the morning. It was the soft crying of an animal that sounded to be in distress. I got up, listened harder next to the window, as if that small distance from my bed made any difference, but still, the whimpering continued somewhere below my window in the overgrown but otherwise empty yard next to my house. I counted my three cats on my bed, my two dogs on their own, but they were all accounted for. I knew I would never be able to go back to sleep again with a crying animal out there, so with a sense o annoyance and concern, I put on a pair of pants, found a flashlight and went out. I carefully stepped through the knee-high grass, making my way downward to some sort of a ditch where the crying became louder. When I got closer by I wondered whether this was such a good idea. I had no idea what I was going to find. It sounded like a puppy, but it might as well have been a possum. Or a mountain lion for all I knew! Not that that seemed very realistic, but then again, at two in the morning all by myself in an empty lot, armed with nothing more than a flashlight, I tend to be less realistic. And even if it was just a puppy, how was I going to be sure it wouldn’t attack me? I finally located the whimpering and started walking around it in circles, getting closer to the source of the sound every time. I don’t know why, but it seemed a very sensible and strategic thing to do. And there it was: a tiny puppy, no more than six weeks old for the look of it. I started talking to it and how Horse Whisperer-like, the puppy stopped crying. It let me touch it and even pick it up. I carried it up to my house and examined the animal outside my door, thinking it wasn’t up yet for a confrontation with my own big dogs. The puppy, male, was filthy and not taken care of. When I put him down I realised he had hurt his leg and couldn’t even stand up. I put him in a makeshift bed and tried to give him some food, but he either didn’t like Dogui dog food, or, more likely, had no clue what it was. But he did lick some milk from my finger. I then left the puppy in his new bed and went back to mine. I’d figure out what to do with him the next morning if he hadn’t died by then.
The next morning, the puppy was still very much alive, although quite overwhelmed by my whole pet family that was anxious to meet him. I scooped up the puppy and went to the neighbours to ask if the puppy was theirs by any chance. It wasn’t. And as it happened, the puppy they had, had actually died that morning so it got the typical funeral arrangements: the ninety year old abuelito of the house tied a piece of string to one leg of the dead animal and dragged if over the ground, all the way around my house, and left it near the creek for the vultures to eat it.
Anyway, I had tons of things to do that day, so after some more milk, I left the puppy in my garden and went to town. I had walked only a few blocks when I saw what I thought was another puppy almost getting run over by a car. Up closer I saw it wasn’t a puppy but a Jack Russell terrier, one that looked an awful lot like Domingo, owned by a woman in town I knew. I called out his name and it was indeed Domingo, unless other Jack Russell terriers get frantic too when they hear “Domingo”. Domingo happily followed me and since I was on my way downtown anyway, I figured I’d drop him off at home. However, there was nobody at his home so he then followed me to the Via Via restaurant where I planned to have a cup of coffee. Quietly. Not so much, because Domingo insisted on sitting on my lap and eating the magazine I was reading. I tried to call his owner, but the battery of my phone was dead. Twenty or so not-so-relaxing minutes later (the coffee was mostly spilled on my pants and the magazine basically gone to shreds) I decided to give up and pass by Domingo’s owner’s house one more time. Then I got lucky… As soon as I stepped out the restaurant, I ran into one of Domingo’s co-owners (not really, but the family stats are way to complicated to get into here) and I happily handed him over to Leonel who didn’t seemed to be worried at all about little Domingo wandering the dangerous streets of Copán all by himself. Okay, mission accomplished, I went to my office.
After a few hours of work I crossed the street to the souvenir store where they also make photocopies, which was what I needed at the time. I was just paying my bill when little Domingo casually walked into the store. He sniffed at some hand made postcards on a low shelf and decided he liked them, because he was about to lift his leg and mark them as his. “No!” I yelled, and then quickly made it for the backdoor and slipped back into my office. I had had more than enough of Domingo for one day.
A few hours later I finished my work and called it a day, thinking on my way home what to do with the mystery puppy. I couldn’t imagine where it had come from or why it ended up below my window. I decided that there was no way I was going to keep the dog, but I would see what I could do to make him better which didn’t seem easy since the puppy couldn’t even stand on it’s own legs. But when I got home, the puppy was gone. It had disappeared as mysteriously as it had arrived in my yard. I couldn’t help but feeling relieved…

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