Man’s Best Friend

Portrait of a Dog

Portrait of a Dog (in Sepia)

Canon PowerShot G15 camera – 1/250s @ f/2.8, ISO 80, FL=140mm

(Click on image to enlarge)

Man’s best friend.  It is unequivocally  THE DOG.  Cats are nice, I grew up with cats and I like them (really).  But Man’s best friend is, and always will be, the dog.  It is no secret that I love dogs.  There is a perception amongst gringos (Norte Americanos especially), that only in the United States and Canada are dogs being well treated, and revered as pets and respected as members of the family.  It is true that in many second and third world countries animals suffer immense abuse and neglect—often becoming a meal.  To a very large degree the distribution of wealth plays a huge role in that (and of course a certain cultural bias can also play a part).  But by-and-large I think the lack of money is the biggest culprit.

To be sure I’ve seen a lot of stray dogs down here in Mexico.  But I’ve also seen very well-treated and well-cared for dogs in Mexico.  The fella pictured above is just but one example.  Coming back down out of the hills yesterday afternoon (from photographing San Cristobal from even higher up than its already substantial 7,000 foot elevation) I was winding my way back down through tiny residential alleyways.  When I happened to glance to my right I was eye-to-eye with this guy—I was at sidewalk level and he was up on a porch sunning himself (pretending to protect the household).  He was plump, well-groomed and looked to be in the peak of health—he didn’t look like a potential dinner.  He was very patient while I snapped away with my camera, and only barked when I got a little obnoxious with my looks in his direction (as dogs are wont to do).

Then last night, returning to my hostel from dinner, I came across a young man with an absolutely beautiful (young) German Shepherd Dog on a leash.  I smiled, and in my best ‘Caveman Spanish’ told him he had a beautiful dog and was it okay for me to pet him.  He beamed with pride as he smiled back and said Si señor.  What a treat—all three of my beautiful Shepherd’s have passed over the Rainbow Bridge (Sarge, Schatzie and Major) may they R.I.P.  It was obvious that the young man in question took great care of his dog, and was very proud of him and thrilled that I had stopped him to chat.  After ruffling his fur (the dogs, not the young man) I smiled once again with a heartfelt Muchas gracias, to which he replied Da nada señor.

To be sure, many expat gringos have worked hard to improve the lives of animals here in Mexico.  But, as is so often the case, they do it with a judgmental attitude and an air of superiority that rankles me.  Mexico traditionally has been a land of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ (upper class vs. lower class—with no real middle class).  That is changing for the better, but still there is a very distinct separation between those with money and those without. With education and a new affluence the plight of animals is getting marginally better, but there is a long way to go (as is the case in most of the world).  Expat gringos can certainly help—but hopefully without the condescension and judgment that seems so prevalent in the community.  Frankly, in the poorer countries I’ve visited folks are often more concerned about putting food on the table to feed their families (and sometimes it’s food we would consider pets) than worrying about their animal co-creatures, lamentable but understandable.

As a side-note:   The locals often giggle at me (and think me crazy) when I greet a stray dog on the street with:  Buenos días señor perro ¿cómo estás esta mañana?  Well, I probably am a little crazy—but with all of the ‘so called’ sane people in the world making the decisions, maybe there’s room (and even a necessity) for some of us crazies.  I must give credit where credit is due:  If not for my ex-wife I’m not sure I would have fully developed the appreciation and love I have for dogs today—for that I thank you Barbara Lou.


2 responses to “Man’s Best Friend

  1. Dogs are wonderful creatures for sure…My little Penney is so very old and has some health issues but I feed her home made food, take her for walks and keep her clean during this “declining phase”. She is very strong and wants to stay with us so she just keeps on going…She amazes me!

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