Monday, August 29, 2016

“Outside Of A Dog, A Book Is Man’s Best Friend”

               “Outside Of A Dog, A Book Is Man’s Best Friend”
            Groucho Marx said it. I suppose there are as many book readers in Mexico as in any other country. What I know for sure, no supposition, true fact, is there are more dogs than people. I’ve wondered if dog ownership is a residency requirement.

            Even here in Colonia El Guaje, also known as Rancho Americano, everyone has a dog or two or even six. Oops—no—I’m wrong. Lani has cats. Lani has three large male cats. Three male cats equal one male dog. All the dogs are male. I’ve no idea how they reproduce. Maybe a company grinds them out in a factory in China.

            I alone am without man’s best friend. If the Mexican government finds out I’m dogless, will I be deported? I like dogs. But I have this weird belief that dogs are happiest when they have a job, activity, room to roam and a place to own. Dogs require full time daily care. I don’t kid myself. I want a leisurely stroll through my garden with a cup of coffee upon awakening. I’ve no intention of letting a dog pull me around the neighborhood several times a day, latex gloves and plastic bags in my other hand. And so far, no cat has claimed me.

            Though I have no traditional pets, I have Iggy, my drain-pipe iguana. When work began in my back yard a few weeks ago, what with the invasion of men, bricks, bags of concrete, wheelbarrows, assorted tools and equipment, Iggy wisely escaped next door. I’d have gone too if I didn’t have to be here for daily decisions. I missed the ugly creature. He was part of my daily landscape.

Along about the third day of work on my lengthy construction project, a stray dog wandered into my yard. He sniffed all of us, settled at Josue’s feet, and in effect, said, “You’re mine.” After a few hearty meals and a bit of grooming, the ragged stray turned into a beautiful shepherd. Josue’s daughter Stephany named him “Zeus”.

One evening, after work at my place, Josue fired up his industrial weed-eater to clear a piece of property which, abandoned for many years, has been recently purchased. In the rainy season it is easy for land to become choked with weeds and grasses, higher than corn in August in Oklahoma.

Zeus escaped his yard and, unseen (Josue wears a protective helmet), bounded into the weed blade, severing a front leg. Josue and Erica rushed the dog to the vet. How quickly we become “family”, fearful, waiting to hear the outcome. Josue felt devastated. We all shared his feelings.

Fortunately, it was a clean cut at the joint. This sweet animal shows resilient strength and responds to his new name, Tripod. Now and then he hobbles over for me to scruff his neck while he leans into my leg.

Days later, Josue told me wasn’t ready to revisit the site of the accident. Armed with sweetgrass and sage, Josue and I smudged one another and then the property. I told him it’s not the words that are important, but the intention.

Yesterday I got excited. I glimpsed a flicker of movement at the top of my wall. Iggy is back. He sat eying the young hibiscus I planted at the base of the wall. Lunch for later. I have watched an iguana at Nancie’s place down a huge hibiscus blossom in one gulp. Iggy probably thinks I planted hibiscus to lure him home. I’ll share, but not every flower.

Eventually Iggy climbed down the wall and sat at the edge of the drain pipe, scoping out his old digs. Finally he slithered head first down the pipe. He’s big. I don’t know how he turns around. Minutes later he emerged to sit in wait for a meal to fly near his mouth, just like old times.

To complete the quotation, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” Classic Groucho.

The majority of my reading these days is by e-book. But now and then I pick up a tree-book. Today I caught myself clicking my finger on the edge to turn the page of a tree-book, Alice Munro’s “Away From Her”.

Do you think I should make myself available for a dog to find me?

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

August 25, 2016

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