Tag Archives: dogs

Loba

30 Sep

Loba

My four year old grandson, Yalith, waved his hand at me and said in Spanish, “Andale.” He began running up the steep dirt road outside our house in Mexico. I hesitated a moment then followed him, puffing and panting under the sun. Our dog Kuma followed by my side, and our cat Brandy hustled to keep up. I’m not proud of much, but I’m proud I have a cat that likes to go on walks with me.

At the top of the hill, Yalith pointed west at the Pacific Ocean, about two miles away. Instead, I looked east, at a parcel of land we owned, where a week before I’d buried Loba, one of our dogs, a Belgian shepherd.

My wife Sophy woke up one morning and looked out the window. She saw Loba lying in the dirt, a bit of pink tongue showing. After calling out “Loba… Loba” she turned to me and said, “I think Loba’s dead.”

I looked out the window and yelled out Loba’s name. She didn’t move. Sophy and I both went out and it was as bad as we thought. The night before, around midnight, I’d walked out to say goodnight to the animals. Loba had been fine. This morning, I knelt by her side and saw there wasn’t a mark on her.

“I think she was poisoned,” said Sophy.

“Poor Loba. She was always eating all kinds of crap.”

When Loba was a puppy, before we bought her for five bucks, she never had enough food. It gave her a sick appetite. She’d attack her bowl like a buzz bomb. She was always slinking into the yard, dragging in bones from dead animals. It was gruesome, especially the day I found her gnawing on an animal’s white jawbone lined with teeth.

I got some duct tape and heavy duty garbage bags and trussed her up. Sophy and I loaded Loba’s body into the trunk of our car and drove up the hill to our spare lot. I dug a grave until I hit solid rock, then slit open the bag and poured five pounds of lime over Loba’s body. I covered her with dirt and piled rocks on the grave.

Today – at the top of the hill – as Yalith ran around overflowing with an excess of joy, I looked over at Loba’s grave. In the back of my mind I was intent on honoring Loba’s memory, telling her I was sorry she was dead.

Instead, I saw the rocks were scattered and white lime marked the ground. I took a few steps and saw black plastic shining in the sun. A few steps more and I saw what remained of Loba. Two thirds of her body had been eaten, but her jawbone remained, with strips of flesh like melted caramel. I looked away, not wanting to see anymore.

I realized Yalith had followed me, so I put an arm around his shoulder and led him away, so he wouldn’t see what I had just seen.

That night, I woke up in the dark and didn’t sleep again for hours. I wasn’t sure what to do with what remained of Loba’s body. Different scenarios played out in my mind until I decided I would get some gasoline and set Loba’s remains on fire. I’d burn it until there was nothing left to be eaten; then I’d bury the ashes.

The morning after discovering Loba’s disturbed grave, I learned that a neighbor’s dog had died a few days ago, from what they were calling a virus. The neighbor’s dog was a small and scruffy mutt who was always hungry. Neglected. Most times when I’d walk by the lot where Loba was buried, I’d see the little guy. I couldn’t help but wonder if the mutt had taken more than a few bites out of Loba and had succumbed to whatever poison had killed her. It made me even more certain that burning Loba’s body was the thing to do.

It was two days before I went back, carrying a shovel and a can of gasoline. My mind kept flashing images of Loba’s skull. I’d imagine scooping up her remains with the shovel and seeing maggots or staring down at an unseeing eye socket.

Two German shepherd mongrels were in our lot, growling at me as I walked toward the grave. Something snapped in me and I picked up a rock and yelled, “It’s my lot, motherfuckers!” They ran off as thrown rocks bounced around them in the dirt.

I got to Loba’s grave and there was nothing there. I looked closer and saw a tuft of black hair tangled in the grass. I searched the brush around the grave but the body was gone.

All I found was Loba’s skull on the ground, picked clean, as though it had been lying in the desert sun for years.

It made me think of the Wall of Voodoo song, with the line, “Just like the spokes of a wheel… you’ll turn ‘round with the rest.”

Rosarito, Mexico Sept. 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Bone

13 Jan

Kuma 2

I’d grown up hearing warnings about feeding chicken bones to dogs – that the bones would splinter and the dog choke. Then in Mexico I learn its common practice. The dogs love them and I’m soon treating Kuma, Toby and Loba to leftover bones from our chicken dinners.

Everything went fine for a while, until one day I stepped out of the back door with a plate of chicken bones and began feeding the dogs.

I fed Kuma a leg bone, then Loba, then Toby. I started a second round and saw Kuma standing stock still. Then he started to hack and claw at the roof of his mouth. I thought, Fuck – he’s choking.

I was alone at the house without a car. Getting to a vet was impossible. Kuma scratched at his mouth so desperately that in seconds blood covered his paws and dripped from his teeth. I wasn’t sure what to do. I remembered the Hippocratic Oath: First do no harm, but I couldn’t watch and do nothing. I lifted Kuma up and peered down his throat. I couldn’t see the bone. I was afraid to push my finger down his throat and jam the bone even deeper. Then I wondered if a splinter had gotten into the roof of Kuma’s mouth, but a quick look told me that wasn’t the problem.

I put Kuma down on the ground and stared as he scratched in desperation at the roof of his mouth. A resigned voice came into my head. “You’re going to watch your dog die right in front of you.” It was disturbing – the voice wasn’t frantic or panicked – it was calm – too calm. What was wrong with me, that I could react so calmly, as though part of me was dead inside?

I picked Kuma up and wrapped my arms around his chest and squeezed hard in the Heimlich maneuver.

Nothing.

I figured there was only so much air in Kuma’s lungs. I might only get one more chance. I squeezed harder this time, hoping I wouldn’t break his ribs.

I set Kuma down and seconds later he spit out a jagged one-inch piece of bone. Maybe my squeezing did the trick; maybe he dislodged the bone on his own.

A minute later, Kuma was wagging his tail, the experience behind him. I washed the blood off his paws and put the rest of the bones in the trash.

I was left with the disturbing memory of my calmness in the face of my dog’s imminent death. It frightened me, wondering how far this calmness could extend.

(Rosarito, Mexico 2015)

Dog Fight

5 Jan

 

Modern Art and Design auction, October 12, 2014

It was noon and the dogs were barking loud. I ran outside and saw a Mexican guy standing in the road holding a staff with a metal hook on its end. He had two dogs with him. One was huge and black – snarling and gnashing at our dog, Toby. It was a full bore dogfight. Toby was trying to sink his fangs in the black dog’s neck. Blood was going to flow any second.

I glanced at the Mexican and he was unperturbed, as though I should invite him in for tea.

I lost it. This was my house – my property. “Hey, motherfucker. Get your motherfuckin’ dogs under control!”

The dogs were locked together, beating up dust from the road.

The Mexican looked at me with a pleasant expression.

I took a step toward him. “Motherfucker! You think this is funny?”

He backed away, frowned, lifted a hand. “Tranquil… Tranquil…” and then yelled out “Marley!”

The dog didn’t stop trying to kill Toby, so the Mexican had to grab Marley by the collar and drag him away.

By then Sophy and Denisse and the kids had spilled out in the road.

Things calmed down. The Mexican said, in fractured English, “You don’ recognize me.”

“No, I don’t.”

“I’m live in the brick house.”

This meant nothing to me.

He pointed to the stone steps leading to our door. “I made those steps.”

I looked hard at the guy. “You grew a beard.”

The Mexican fingered his heavy beard. “Yes.”

The Mexican – Jose – made a gesture like he was flexing his muscles. “You were very fuerte.”

I took a breath. “You’ve got a big dog.”

By now, Jose had once again let go of Marley’s collar. My grandson Yalith wandered too close to the dog and Jose said, “Careful with the boy.”

I shooed Yalith away while Jose tied Marley to a utility pole.

Jose pointed at his two dogs. “Marley and Rita. After Bob Marley and his wife.”

It turned out Jose had come by to borrow our power drill.

When he left, Sophy said, “He brought that dog here before. It bit Antonio (our worker). Antonio told me if he saw that dog again he was going to kill it. Why does he have to bring that dog here? There was no reason. I told him not to bring that dog here.”

Is it madness? Or Mexico?

The Smell

12 Oct

brassai 3

 

I got back to Rosarito after a trip to The Bahamas and settled into bed with Sophy. She said,” I can’t stand the smell – the smell from the dead dogs.”

I took a deep breath and inhaled the stink wafting in from God knows where. It was coming from the empty lot next to ours. A sweet smell, invasive, clinging to my nostrils. Sophy told me dogs were eating the dead body – she saw them.

I was tired and said I’d deal with it tomorrow.

We woke up the next morning, clinging to each other and I said, “We need a bag of lime”

I woke up, wrote a bunch of stories. Sophy drove out and returned with a couple pounds of lime. In my mind, I remembered European & African tragedies where bodies had to be sprinkled with lime.

Sophy and I walked onto the lot next to our house. There were two dead dogs. An unscathed puppy and a chewed-over mutt with a beef jerky grinning skull. I shook the lime over them, covering every body part I could see.

The next two days the rain came.

I looked out my window and saw the two bodies of the dogs, one much smaller than the other. Even in the rain, the lime clung to the dead bodies, like a candy coating.

I was glad.

Maybe they wouldn’t smell so bad.

(2013)